Inside the ‘Fashion Incubator’ Where Instagram-Famous Brands Are Born

Inside the ‘Fashion Incubator’ Where Instagram-Famous Brands Are Born

By Jessyca Dewey, contributor via the Underground Group
4-minute read

In short:

  • As the fashion industry started to nosedive, Karl and Jaynee Singer saw an opportunity to help celebrities become designers.

  • Their success started with a strong collaboration with the right partner, TV star Morgan Stewart.

  • Listening to their celeb partners’ fans provides insight that helps LA Collective grow and improve its clothing lines.

Karl Singer has deep roots in the fashion industry -- his family has been in the business for more than 50 years. 

He spent 16 of those years running a now-closed private label manufacturing company. As the retail apocalypse unfolded over the last decade, Karl watched the label's orders from retail chains and department stores plummet from 10,000 units in 2012 to 500 in 2016. 

It was obvious the future of retail was shifting, and Karl needed to shift with it. The solution, it turned out, was a perfect combination of the silver and digital screens.

Jaynee & Karl Singer founded LA Collective based on their experience in modeling & manufacturing, respectively.

The aha moment

In 2016, Karl’s wife Jaynee was working as an actor and model when a light bulb went off. While working with various brands, celebrities and social media influencers, she noticed the increasing importance of celebrity endorsements in the fashion space. She and Karl saw an opportunity to leverage Karl’s existing manufacturing business while tapping into this market. 

LA Collective, an incubator that develops fashion lines with celebrities, was born.

LA Collective is a "fashion incubator" that helps celebrities and influencers launch their own apparel brands.

Building LA Collective 

Karl and Jaynee knew that choosing the first celebrity partner for LA Collective would be crucial. The company seeks to work with celebrities whose fan bases aren’t entirely comprised of social media followers, knowing that the ability to reach a wider audience -- beyond Instagram users -- is extremely important to closing sales. However, a strong following is a piece of the puzzle.

As they pondered the perfect personality with whom to launch LA Collective, TV personality and E! host Morgan Stewart stood out. The L.A. native was popular with fans for “her sharp-shooter attitude and overall realness,” as one writer put it. In Karl and Jaynee’s minds, she was an ideal candidate to launch a locally made clothing brand.

“At the time, she was on the reality show ‘Rich Kids of Beverly Hills,’ and we noticed her personality and who she was, and we really believed in her potential,” said Karl. “She had great style, so we reached out to her team.”

The couple pitched a fashion line to Stewart and put together a deal: The LA Collective team of 10 employees worked with her, as they’ve done with all celebrity partners since, throughout the entire process, which can take up to six months. This includes conceiving, designing and manufacturing a clothing line, with LA Collective operating its own factory and warehouse space in L.A.

Later in 2016, the team launched what is now the brand Morgan Stewart Sport, a fashion-forward athletic line that includes bras, tops, bottoms and outerwear. Stewart’s Instagram followers, which now number 1.3 million, provided an instant fan base.

“From day one, [the brand] was profitable,” said Karl, who serves as co-founder and CEO of Morgan Stewart Sport, as well as LA Collective. 

The first brand LA Collective built was with TV personality Morgan Stewart, who markets it on Instagram.

Since then, Karl and Jaynee have grown a multimillion-dollar business by partnering with more celebs and influencers to not only create clothing lines but also sell those lines on the LA Collective site. Retailers like Revolve, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue also sell the lines online and in-store. However, LA Collective often manages and ships that inventory itself, a practice called dropshipping.

In addition to Morgan Stewart Sport, LA Collective has launched four additional fashion brands, primarily activewear, in four years, including: 

  • Ren, by influencer and model Alexis Ren 

  • DNA, by actress Lisa Rinna and her daughters Amelia Gray and Delilah Belle Hamlin

  • Vita LA, by LA Collective’s in-house designers

  • Candy & Caviar, also by in-house designers

Casting collaborators

The LA Collective team approaches celebrity personalities to pitch the idea of a fashion line to them. But more and more, Karl said, big-name talent agencies like CAA and UTA are pitching them

It’s critical that LA Collective's collaborators have a loyal audience and a team who is willing to promote the resulting line, Karl said. He and Jaynee, who serves as co-founder and creative director, have found that celebrity-backed fashion brands have fans who are dialed in and ready to provide feedback, which the couple encourages. 

“We want our partners to seek opinions from their audience regarding styles, fit, colors and fabric,” Karl said. 

These insights enable LA Collective to adapt new collections to better fit audience demands. The company also sends out quarterly surveys to existing customers to inform future creative decisions.

LA Collective also created a brand with Alexis Ren, a model who has more than 13 million Instagram followers.