Serena Williams is grabbing the spotlight on a different kind of court. In fact, she could be key to blowing up HSN's already multibillion-dollar sales.
On Tuesday, the tennis champion and fashion designer revealed her Fall 2015 "Signature Statement" line in New York City. The new collection, in partnership with HSN, marks her second appearance at New York Fashion Week.
The runway event was live-streamed on HSN.com, Vogue.com, and Periscope. Ogling fans were able to purchase their favorite items online (i.e., a knit, knee-length sweater or fedora) immediately following the event.
To get the full Fashion Week experience, I arrived at the show's venue at the cusp of Manhattan's garment district with my hair and makeup done (in a moving taxi, no less) by a savvy team of two beauty professionals, working for Glamsquad. The business, which is based in New York City and launched in 2014, is offering to shepherd Fashion Week attendees to their events free of charge. Glamsquad is yet another entrant in the rapidly growing sector of specialized grooming.
Before the show, Williams ghosted back and forth down the runway--a last-ditch rehearsal before her star-studded posse (paramour Drake and fashion editor Anna Wintour included) was set to arrive.
"Throughout my life, I've always believed in pushing boundaries," Williams said in a statement ahead of the show. "By offering my Signature Statement collection exclusively through an innovative retailer like HSN, I'm able to communicate directly with fans."
Arbitrary though Williams's connection to HSN might seem, the media network's CEO, Mindy Grossman, says that the pick was more than intentional.
"I've known Serena for over 13 years," Grossman told Inc. backstage. "I was running the apparel business at Nike when we signed Serena. So we've been partners in trying to be a little disruptive."
Grossman adds that Williams is empowering of "all women," regardless of size, race, class, or creed. The Signature Collection features 30 looks, including plus sizes, with prices ranging from as little as $29.95 to $129.90. HSN's president and chief marketing officer, Bill Brand, calls her among the most "authentic" designers in the industry at large.
Fittingly chic, models on the runway paraded pieces like a faux leather jacket with a faux fur collar, or cardigans with side button closures. Fringe and leather are prominent motifs, as with the fringe jacket that Grossman herself sported.
Williams joins a stream of high-profile celebrity entrepreneurs that HSN has recently chosen to partner with. These include Hollywood actress and fashion entrepreneur Melissa McCarthy, as well as design mogul and Modern Family star Sofia Vergara.
With the ever-changing landscape of digital media, it's perhaps more crucial than ever that a retailer like HSN offer an experience that customers can relate to online. And given that as much as 20 percent of the network's traffic now comes from mobile, it's not surprising that the brand would want to use Williams as a means of connecting to a younger, hipper audience.
"You have to look at everything as competition," Grossman says. "The consumer really wants to be part of an experience. People want storytelling content. It's empowering, and has more meaning."
Grossman anticipates that the live stream, combined with Williams's more laid-back aesthetic, will be hugely successful in reaping those customers.