Juicy Couture’s signature tracksuits, available in terry cloth, velour and a rainbow of colors including multiple variations of pink, were a defining outfit of the 2000s and made the brand a $50 million business. But Juicy’s founders, Pamela Skaist and Gela Nash, initially resisted the idea of pairing coordinating zip-ups and flared pants together in a matching set.
“They originally said it was corny and no one dresses that way,” said Lisa Shaller-Goldberg, who served as Juicy Couture’s East Coast representative after discovering the L.A.-born brand at a showroom through her marketing agency Simply Chic. “Head-to-toe matching was very foreign in L.A. at the time, but it became an iconic moment in fashion.”
Shaller-Goldberg has a self-identified knack for trend-spotting. Other than recognizing a desire to feel comfortable while making a fashion statement well before the term ‘athleisure’ was coined, she points to other trends. Ponchos, fringe and, most recently, accessories dotted with pom-pom decor took off, she says, after her own line Minnie Rose, launched in 2006, started selling them.
We talked to Shaller-Goldberg about how identifying trends has changed thanks to Instagram, the cultural climate that fed into a Juicy Couture craze, and whether or not such a perfect fashion storm could be recreated today.
You first discovered Juicy in the back of an L.A. showroom, and the idea for the tracksuit came around because of a market void for fitted loungewear. How has that discovery and trend-seeking process changed with social media?
I was a magazine-aholic before Instagram and Pinterest. Now, it’s much easier. You can see through bloggers what’s happening on the streets to get a sense of what’s going on. You still have to do your research in the stores and have a gut instinct of what’s going to be big next, of course. Instagram is sometimes frustrating. It’s an information overload and can be a distraction from sitting down at the design table. You can get caught up in the rabbit hole.
There was no Instagram, of course, when the Juicy tracksuit debuted.
Not only was there no Instagram, there was barely email. I was like Paul Revere on the pony: the tracksuits are coming, the tracksuits are coming! The marketing strategy was to give this tracksuit out to every celebrity possible. The business was celebrity-driven, and it was all about paparazzi, Paris Hilton, and magazines like Us Weekly were taking off. When we started personalizing them — we put ‘Madge’ on Madonna’s and ‘Mrs. Federline’ on Britney [Spears]’s — that’s when it exploded.
Do you think that moment could be recreated today?
I don’t think you can just throw something on a couple of celebrities and think it’s going to drive sales. It has to be a combination of people Instagramming it, influencers wearing it and celebrities being seen in it to generate that buzz.
And does that make the job easier, or harder?
It makes it much easier. It’s incredible, the exposure you can get today with just putting things out there on Instagram and online, and retailers are suffering because of it. People can shop online, compare prices and find alternatives. That makes it harder for traditional brick and mortar stores.
Does it also make it more difficult to stay relevant?
It’s a difficult balance between being ahead of and on top of the trends. When you deliver a trend too early, it’s just as bad as being too late. You have to make sure you’re continuously doing research, are in the game and delivering product that’s exciting, fresh and new at the right time. I would tell [the Juicy co-founders], we have to think of the next item other than the tracksuit because stores are asking me what’s next, and I had to keep pushing them to think about it. You can never take your position for granted or rest on your laurels.