What T-Pain and Juicy Couture Taught Me About Business

Juicy Couture

Juicy Couture tracksuits/Image by JP Yim/Getty Images/Source

In case you didn’t know, when it comes to books I have a penchant for punchy woman-centered business profiles. That’s why I jumped for joy when I saw The Glitter Plan, a Juicy Couture memoir, on the shelf at Barnes and Nobles.

I’ve never been a hardcore “Juicy Girl” but I remembered the whole velour tracksuit craze and I figured there’d be some gems in this book…and I was right! I won’t dive into a full on review but I think it’s worth the money. But don’t take my word for it. I just really like books!

Now you’re probably wondering what on Earth Juicy Couture, creator of “glamourous” lounge wear, has to do with T-Pain, king of auto-tune. And you’re probably super curious about what lesson I learned from the two. So, I won’t drag this intro out any longer (to be honest I just didn’t know how to wrap it up). On to the lesson!

In The Glitter Plan Pam and Gela, Juicy Couture’s creators, detail how they spread the word about their infamous fitted velour tracksuits using the world’s most popular influencers: Hollywood celebs.

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Celebs in Juicy Couture/Source

The Juicy suits emerged in the early 2000s around an interesting time in pop culture. According to Business Insider, reality shows like The Simple Life were beginning to pop up, gossip magazines were birthed, and the paparazzi captured more and more casual celebrity moments. Like Cameron Diaz shopping for toothpaste, or Britney Spears taking her dog for a walk, and a plethora of other terribly mundane things that make you wonder why we care so much.

Being LA girls with connections, Gela and Pam got their custom candy colored velour tracksuits and matching purses in the hands of every talked-about celebrity. Any time a famous person in Hollywood left their house to run errands they wore Juicy Couture and the paparazzi wasn’t too far off, snapping photos for gossip mags. For Juicy Couture, sending freebies to celebs was like free marketing and every time they were snapped out and about, it was in Juicy. You were “nobody” if you didn’t lounge in Juicy Couture! But soon, everybody lounged in Juicy Couture.

In the book they mentioned some of the bad publicity that their tracksuits got. Like Mariah Carey having a meltdown while wearing their brand, and Britney Spears outfitting her bridesmades in matching bubblegum pink tracksuits that read “maids” on the back.

Britney Spears Juicy Couture

Source: Corrine Andersson/Pinterest

As Business Insider pointed out, the brand became associated with celebrities like Paris Hilton and other people who were perceived as ditzy, lazy, and famous for no reason. And as the times changed, and people became fed up with seeing hordes of girls wrapped in bright velour, the Juicy suit remained the same. Because the brand didn’t change with the times quick enough, it faded from popularity…as all fads do.

In the mid-2000s another game changer emerged: T-Pain. With his harmonic use of auto-tune, T-Pain managed to resurrect and remix a sound that hadn’t really been used much since the 80s. Just like Juicy Couture’s velour tracksuit, T-Pain’s robotic R&B made waves, and you could hear him singing about being sprung, and wanted to buy ladies drinks on radios all over the country. Eventually, the auto-tune trend spread beyond T-Pain, with other stars hopping on the bandwagon. Including Kanye West, and other artists I can’t quite remember (because there was so much auto-tune, it’s all just a blur to me).

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But, just like with Juicy Couture, once everyone was using it, no one wanted to use it. According to a very depressing profile on T-Pain by the New Yorker, the tide started to turn once Jay Z released his song “Death of Auto-tune”. Which in hindsight is a kind of extreme statement/song. Like, why did Jay-Z care that much to dedicate a whole song to it? Anyway, T-Pain’s career had become a joke. His bread and butter was now seen as an annoying fad, and everyone seemed to turn their back on him and his robotic tunes. Just like Juicy Couture, T-Pain didn’t evolve and change with the times. The man can actually sing. So I’m wondering why he didn’t put the vocoder away for a bit and shock the world with an album full of smooth, auto-tune free jams, but eh.

So what was their problem?

As you’ve probably already guessed, both T-Pain and Juicy Couture failed to listen to their audience and evolve their brands. Yes, they set trends. But they rested in the success of those trends/fads for far too long and ended up getting left behind.

I’m not completely blaming them though. Velour sweats changed the game and elevated Juicy Couture to new heights. But because of the time period and how early they adapted to the rise of celebrity culture, they probably had no idea how flash-in-the-pan celebrity trends can be. And poor T-Pain. He just wanted to make music his way but he didn’t forsee competitors, who would rush in and oversaturate his auto-tuned market.

So I’m learning from their mistakes and you should too! Remember, once something that’s deemed a fad is adopted by everyone, no one wants it. People like their choices to be unique to them and if you cater to everyone, you cater to no one! That’s why it’s sooo important to build a rock-solid brand and know your target customer inside and out. Don’t just do things to be seen. You don’t need to take every opportunity if it doesn’t fit with the story you’re telling. One thing I’ve learned, actually I’m still learning, is every step you take that’s not in-line with your brand dilutes it and causes confusion. Also, only send products to influencers who fit your vision.

Now that you’ve read this super long post, go build that brand, create that moodboard, and stick with it!

What do you think about the rise and fall of T-Pain and Juicy Couture? Did you own a velour sweatsuit? Will you be picking up The Glitter Plan? Inquiring minds want to know!

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