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Kellan Lutz, vampire-turned-designer, recently stopped by Nordstrom Fashion Valley in San Diego to promote the Abbot + Main spring line—his new collection of comfy basics—and to hand out long-stemmed white roses and hugs to his (mostly) teenage audience and their adoring mothers. Nevermind his newly shaved head and the frequent piping in by co-founder Danny Guez, Racked correspondent Christianna Ablahad got the scoop on the line, Lutz rolling around with Adam Levine's girlfriend, and why he loves Juicy Couture, all in an unintended three-way interview.
Racked: What prompted you to start a clothing line?
Kellan Lutz: Well, I started out as a model when I was 14 and fell in love with modeling. I really learned a lot with different labels, photographers, and designers I shot with. I then became an actor, but I always just wanted to create a design. Around the same time, Danny [Guez] (hits Danny's knee) was looking to start another line.
Danny Guez: I created William Rast and People's Liberation, then launched Dylan George in 2008. Then the recession hit. That was really fun, trying to sell $200 jeans. Then I just wanted to get back to grassroots and cross-promoting with a reputable celebrity. Guys really like Kellan and girls want to be with him. A mutual friend reps him and asked how I felt about him. I was trying to figure out a muse for the brand, and I looked him up and thought, "Wow, this guy's amazing." We set up a meeting, and within the first day, we became instant best friends. (Looks at Kellan) Can I say best friends?
KL: Lovers, lovers. Whatever you want to say.
Racked: How involved are you, Kellan, in the design?
KL: I'm a part of everything. I didn't want to be one of those celebrities who just put his name on something, So talking to Danny, I said, "Look, if we're going to do this, I don't just want to be the face, I want to create something that I'm proud of, that even if it were to fail—which it wouldn't, ever—I would have a bunch of rejects that I would wear. He then raided my closet. I didn't know what the fabrics were, really, so I asked, "Danny, what's this, what's this?" He would educate me and we worked on the line. I was shooting Breaking Dawn at the time, so we would design by Skype.
DG: What's Breaking Dawn?
KL: Just some Twilight movie. I'll take you to see it someday. So I want to be a part of everything Abbot + Main, and I trust Danny, so when I am out of town, we're on the same page and we think the same way. And when I am in town, we just hang out.
Racked: What details in particular separate your line from other basics and knit lines?
DG: I'll say color stands out among all of the other brands. A lot of other brands have blacks, greys, other neutral colors. Our color pallet's like Skittles. Like a rainbow. And if you look at the women's line, it's all about comfort, quality and color. And that's a formula for success. It's really affordable, as well.
Racked: What type of guy or girl wears Abbot + Main?
KL: Everyone. That's what was really important to me. For example, I have roommates. And they're 6'5". I didn't want to design just for me, because I have a bigger build than some people, but they're huge. I wanted to make something that everyone could wear.
Racked: We love the ad campaign with Anne Vyalitsyna. Did you have to get the green light from Adam Levine to roll around half-naked with his girlfriend?
KL: Oh, man. I knew I forgot about something! No, no, he's a really cool guy and they have such a great relationship. It was just easy-going because he trusts her, she trusts him. Anne and I both model, so it's work. We goof around a bit, and then they're like, "Be sexy!"
Racked: Do you plan on expanding the product line to perfume, like Justin Bieber's, maybe, or something else?
KL: (Laughs) I saw a commercial for that. What I really want to do with our brand is be a whole, unity of what I like to wear already. just simple pieces of clothing.
DG: We're doing footwear, hats, pet wear.
Racked: Pet wear?
KL: I have two dogs that are cold.
Racked: What's your absolute favorite piece from the collection?
KL: I love the hoodies and the v-necks, and for women, the sweatpants and sweatshirts are the softest material. And I love Juicy Couture! Especially growing up, girls would wear it and I would like to pet it. I'm all about the hand of the product.
Racked: What's the whole Venice Beach connection? What was it about Venice Beach that you were trying to capture?
KL: I moved there from the valley, right on the corner of Abbot, Kinney and Main. And that's what our symbol is, it's the crossroads of the three streets. I fell in love with it the first day I moved in. There are so many trendsetters and hipsters, artists, musicians, actors, cute little boutiques. It has its own feel that hadn't been captured yet, the way James Perse has captured Malibu.
Racked: One last question: Do you have any advice for other potential vampire-turned-fashion-designers?
KL: (Laughs) No. DON'T DO IT. Let me feel special.