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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | HEARD ON THE BEAT / RETAIL

'ET' Helps Wet Seal Sew Up a Higher Profile in Hollywood

April 18, 2001|LESLIE EARNEST

If you tune into "Entertainment Tonight" some evening, don't be surprised to see female anchors wearing outfits made by Wet Seal Inc.

The Foothill Ranch company, a retailer of trendy clothes for girls and young women, has been stepping up its marketing efforts, recently hiring a public relations firm to get high-profile exposure for its Arden B division's fashions.

"We're dressing the female anchors," said Steven Strickland, Wet Seal's senior vice president of marketing and creative services.

In another coup, Debra Messing--co-star of "Will & Grace"--wore an Arden B dress to the show's season premiere. Her photograph wearing the dress landed on the cover of TV Guide, Strickland said.

This isn't the specialty retailer's first venture into TV Land. The stars of "Clueless" wore clothes bearing the Wet Seal junior's brand, Strickland said.

Arden B, which caters to slightly older customers, also has been nabbing some free print publicity. Its fashions appeared recently in Glamour and Cosmopolitan and landed on the cover of the May issue of Lucky magazine, now on newsstands. Wet Seal brand apparel has popped up recently in YM, Seventeen and Cosmo Girl magazines, Strickland said.

Analysts say such marketing pushes are a sign that a company is feeling good about its merchandise.

"I think it signals their confidence in what they have in their stores," said Elizabeth Pierce, with Wedbush Morgan Securities.

Leslie Earnest covers retail businesses for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7832 and at leslie.earnest@latimes.com.

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