Astrella, Donovan's Daughter, Talks Bringing Luxury Music Tees To Bloomingdale's
Astrella, the fashion designer and daughter of psych-pop legend Donovan, will be bringing her line of luxury music t-shirts to Bloomingdale's next month, with the tees featuring classic album covers and coming equipped with a scannable barcode that allows the buyer to download the album printed on the shirt. The Jazz & Blues Collection will feature albums from classic artists like Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, and expand later this year.
Astrella, who has previously collaborated with John Varvatos, tells Billboard that the launch has been almost two years in the making. "There's a lot of moving pieces to this, and a lot of history," she says. "It's a daunting thing to take on, but we come from that world and understand it so well."
Based in Palm Springs with her husband Jason Rothberg, Astrella immersed herself in the fashion world after wading through her father's history and old contracts, and deciding to start a t-shirt line based around his classic single "Mellow Yellow" as well as an image of Donovan performing at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. As the line was beginning to gain traction, Rothberg, who also heads the multi-purpose label Transcendental Music, came into discussion with Bloomingdale's executive vice president David Fisher about featuring his wife's t-shirts in stores.
Fisher wasn't interested in selling CDs in his stores to pair with a t-shirt collection, but when Rothberg pitched a line with scannable downloads attached, they came to an agreement. "It really comes from a mixture of her background and my background," says Rothberg of the collection.
In mid-April, Bloomingdale's will start featuring the line, which is made in California from organic materials and is currently being sold at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and at Astrella's website. Last fall, the retail chain showcased a handful of Beatles products as part of a "Bloomingdale's Loves Great Britain" promotion, and in 2008, Sony had about 40 titles in Bloomingdale's stores, featuring artists like Bruce Springsteen and Adele.
Although Astrella admits that lining up the rights for the t-shirt collection has been "a bit of a hard pull with the labels and their artists," but says that the special promotion will be worth the effort. "We want the artist to feel not taken advantage of, or as if they're giving something away," she says.