Last week, the TV reality show “Fashion Star” debuted to tepid ratings and less than enthusiastic reviews, but the show’s designs are a hit with fashionistas who like their styles fast and up-to-the-minute. While the show has the usual nervous contestants and celebrity mentors, the real judges are the buyers for participating retailers Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and H&M, because they decide who gets to stay in the game another week.
The would-be designers vie for a bid from the retail buyers, who will have the winning fashions on sale in their stores the next day. (I have a vision of sewing elves working all night to get the garments made, but probably don’t really want to know the reality.)
The three retail chains each invested an impressive $3 million for the rights to sell the garments seen on the show the next day, and that gamble seems to be paying off. Only 4.55 million viewers watched the “Fashion Star” debut, but enough of them were willing to hit the mall the next morning in search of their favorite items to let Macy’s sell out the $89 eyelet maxi dress by contestant Nikki Poulos in under 12 hours. The other two chains had similar results with Sarah Parrott’s $19.95 dress at H&M and Orly Shani’s $350 zipper mini-skirts at Saks, both selling out their stock.
The show’s designs are a hit, even if the show isn’t. According to TVGuide.com, the show’s executive producer Ben Silverman has confirmed that the click-through rate on purchase was “hundreds of percentage points higher than normal.”
With department stores like Macy’s and Saks racking their corporate brains for a way to lure more customers into their stores, “Fashion Star” has to be just what they’ve been needing—and totally worth the investment.