Will Ryan Seacrest's Clothing and Skincare Lines Suffer in the Wake of Sexual Misconduct Scandal?
Fashion partners seem to be standing by the host, while his fans on social media laud him with cries of "Team Ryan."
As the Ryan Seacrest drama continues to unfold, with members of the entertainment industry taking sides regarding how the star handled the sexual misconduct allegations leveled against him by his former stylist Suzie Hardy, we're left to wonder how his apparel brand, Ryan Seacrest Distinction, as well as his men's skincare line in collaboration with Hollywood-favorite Dr. Lancer, will fare in the current political climate when more than ever, people vote with their dollars.
The 4-year-old Ryan Seacrest Distinction (RSD) collection of suits and lifestyle wear, $50 to $500, sold exclusively at Macy's, is still currently in stock on the department store's website and in select stores. Despite Macy's typical discounts, there is no apparent change to the marketing of the collection. Representatives for Macy's declined to comment on Seacrest or whether RSD will be impacted by the allegations against him.
David Katz, CMO of New York-based Randa Accessories, the company that first approached Seacrest about creating a fashion brand, responded to the The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment by saying that "ultimately, there is no there, there."
Meanwhile, responses to Seacrest's RSD Instagram account, @seacreststyle, are largely positive. The comment section of the E! host's Oscars red carpet images are filled with sentiments of support and cries of "Team Ryan." (The same cannot be said about Seacrest's personal account, which is host to several comment-section debates regarding his reputation.) There's no way to be sure whether the comments of the RSD account are being monitored, however, it's telling that they haven't been completely disabled.
In collaboration with skincare expert Dr. Harold Lancer, Seacrest launched the Polished by Dr. Lancer and Ryan Seacrest collection of men's products, $10 to $55, in 2017. Regarding his relationship with the host, Lancer tells THR, "I have known Ryan for over 15 years and he was absolutely the best partner for Polished. We stand by him and are looking forward to our future brand plans."
Stacy Jones, CEO of marketing and strategy agency Hollywood Branded, tells THR that "Ryan Seacrest brands are absolutely in the crossfire at the current moment due to the sexual allegations against him, and customers are looking at [them] in a different light."
"At the moment, the focus on sexual misconduct — regardless of its truth — is still too much in the headlines to not have impact on his brand," adds Jones. "He has taken steps to disprove the allegations, with two featured articles countering the accusations, but in today's #MeToo movement with breaking news, on what feels like a weekly basis, where every male has staunchly denied claims, it's hard for those readers to know what to believe."
In the era of conscious consumerism, where shoppers are not just paying attention to scandals themselves, but also to how brands react to them (take Delta's public stance on the NRA, for example), a controversy like the one plaguing Seacrest can definitely affect a company's bottom line.
"When [shoppers] see headline after headline showcasing a scandal or controversy, they may be more likely to shy away from the brand, as what has happened with the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the fallout with Marchesa," notes Jones, alluding to the backlash against the once-beloved red carpet label, which was founded by Weinstein's estranged wife Georgina Chapman. Marchesa received no red carpet play this awards season.
On the Oscars red carpet earlier this month, Seacrest did take the opportunity to flog his Distinction line, which he does whenever he's wearing it on TV. But he did not manage to draw much A-list talent to his mic, including any of the best actress nominees, for interviews. ("Flocks of celebrities avoided stopping by and being interviewed by him at the direction of their publicists, who suggested they distance themselves for fear of the unknown of what may come," says Jones.)
He did snag interviews with best supporting actress winner Allison Janney and presenter Taraji P. Henson, however, many interpreted Henson's interaction as shade. "The universe has a way of taking care of good people," said Henson, stroking Seacrest on the chin. Henson later stated that her comments were misconstrued and she "absolutely" supports the host.
Both E! (which ordered a third-party investigation into the stylist's claims that ultimately cleared Seacrest in the eyes of the network) and ABC are standing behind Seacrest, as is the 43-year-old's Live with Kelly and Ryan co-host, Kelly Ripa, who made a point to defend him on air. "I know what an easy, professional, great person you are, and I feel very, very lucky to work with you each and every day. And we all do, we all do," she said.
When Seacrest's accuser resurfaced the claims this month, ultimately calling the investigation insufficient, Seacrest reiterated his innocence in a statement: "This person who has accused me of horrible things offered, on multiple occasions, to withdraw her claims if I paid her millions of dollars. I refused. I have worked extremely hard to achieve my success and I don't take my opportunities for granted. I don't want to accuse anyone of not telling the truth but in this case, I have no choice but to again deny the claims against me, remind people that I was recused of any wrongdoing, and put the matter to rest."
Moving forward, Jones says that the host should "concentrate on what he can control," adding that the situation is "absolutely recoverable." She adds, "Eventually, this too will pass."