How a Pretty Little Liars Collaboration Could Help Ailing Aeropostale

Costume designer Mandi Line dishes on Pretty Little Liars' inevitable clothing line.
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Costume designer Mandi Line dishes on Pretty Little Liars' inevitable clothing line.

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It looks as though 2014 could become the year of TV show-branded clothing lines, with an abundance of shows on the air garnering attention for more than just their dramatic plots. Series like Revenge, Downton Abbey, and Scandal are all reportedly in talks to do clothing or accessories lines, but one show, which targets the increasingly challenging teen demographic, has beat them to it.

Ailing retailer Aeropostale teamed up with Warner Brothers and Pretty Little Liars costume designer Mandi Line on an ongoing collaboration featuring outfits based on each of the little liars themselves -- that's Aria, Emily, Spencer and Hannah, if you're not an avid watcher -- and it's launched just in time for the show's premiere on Tuesday night.

Aeropostale was a somewhat surprising choice, but Line explained over the phone earlier this week how collaborating with the teen retailer would benefit everyone involved. When discussing whom to approach for the collaboration, Line initially thought they would target a bigger mass retailer: "You think H&M, you think Topshop." But instead, the show went out in search of a company that was perhaps less massive and thriving, and more in need of a buzzy collaboration, and, more specifically, one they could work with for more than a single collection. "We wanted someone who would keep us for four different collections," explained Line, adding that, "you want to go to somebody that wants to do it. You don't want to always be trying to please the brand, you want the brand to want to want to work with you." And that's what she found in Aeropostale. "Five months in, we have become a family."

Not to mention, Aero could probably use the buzz. The retailer was recently downgraded, along with Abercrombie & Fitch, from a buy to a hold, and share prices have been falling for months. And Pretty Little Liars is a popular show: It's ABC Family's most successful, with an average of 2.6 million viewers per episode last season. (It's also soo good. If you don't watch it, you should start.) Plus, fans have become obsessed with the high school-aged characters' ridiculously trendy and over-the-top wardrobes -- think Dior handbags, cocktail dresses and four-inch heels... at school. While unrealistic, the girls do look incredible in every scene. There are multiple Tumblrs dedicated to chronicling their bold looks, and people go nuts over the fashion on social media.

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In fact, Line says that while she "knew from the beginning after half a season that we needed a clothing line," social media (as well as the hiring of booking and talent agency Matchbook) played a role in convincing the studio. "I went to Warner Brothers and was like, 'I just got 1,500 likes on a hoodie,'" she said, referring to a customized hoodie that one of the girls wore on the show, which she had posted on Instagram -- where she has over 16,000 followers. "It's the hottest show for young girls' clothes."

She also gets ceaseless comments from fans demanding to know where to buy items that were one-of-a-kind, customized by Line. Now they can at Aeropostale. Though, naturally, Aero, where the aesthetic is more casual and sporty, toned down the girls' looks a fair amount. "The head designer every now and then, she'll be like, 'Mandi, a pleather skirt? Really?' They'll send back maybe three things being like, 'Come on.'" However, since the collaboration is ongoing, Line insists that each collection will be more true to PLL than the last, as she gets more comfortable with Aero's design team, and the retailer sees how each collection does. Line is pretty confident: "I'm going to bring you a customer you've never had -- a Pretty Little Liars customer who's like, 'Wow, Aero? Really?'"

Click through the gallery for more images of the collection, available in stores and online now.

Photos: Courtesy