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NEW YORK -- Sears has signed a deal with rapper/actor LL Cool J to produce a new clothing line.

The apparel collection, which hits retail outlets in September, will be carried across 450 Sears stores, with plans for increased distribution for the holidays. The line will include apparel for juniors, kids and young men. The success of the offering could lead to expansion, such as accessories, according to Sears, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

By partnering with a celebrity like LL Cool J, who has earned 10 platinum albums and two Grammy Awards, the struggling retailer hopes to reach multicultural shoppers, particularly African Americans. Sears said LL Cool J's line represents shoppers who desire authentic, affordable streetwear.

"I see the LL Cool J brand bringing families closer together. It was a priority for me to launch with a partner who connects with all of America and Sears does it best," LL Cool J said in a statement. "One of the happiest times I can remember was my grandfather taking me to Sears every weekend when I was a child. I am pleased to bring an authentic brand to Sears customers across the county who represent those people and family members who influenced the person I am today."

Sears' sales have dropped from $30 billion in fiscal 2006 to $27.84 billion in fiscal 2007. The company spent almost $495 million on advertising last year (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Its lead agency is WPP's Young & Rubicam, Chicago.

(Brandweek)


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