How Gwen Stefani—the rocker mom we can’t help but have a girl crush on—has, with three labels and numerous collaborations , rebranded what it is to be a style-savvy teen

By Sarah De Brun

Most of us possess one standout note of personal style, a signature look we are famed among our cohorts for. For Gwen Stefani, it’s that world-renowned lip…a flawless crimson pout. Of course, then there are her platinum blonde locks, made to play perfectly with a rotating range of styles. Abidingly true to her No Doubt roots, the Fullerton, California native’s fashion has remained a fine-tuned mixture of ska, Rasta, retro, and punk, ever with a touch of So-Cal “Hollaback Girl.” In recent years, she has introduced modern cuts and a black and white palette into her wardrobe in forms of moto vests, slouchy harem pants, hi-lo tops, and of course, skyrocketing heels.

A self-proclaimed “Orange County Girl,” Stefani comes from a long line of seamstresses, including her mother who would make clothing for her when she was a kid. Among these handmade designs is a replica of a dress worn by Grace Kelly in Rear Window that Gwen and her mother teamed to create. A quick search on the internet kicks up the throwback pic, and you see a young Stefani dressed up for prom in a black velvet top delicately hanging off the shoulders, while black sequined vines glide down a white chiffon shirt…hands tucked into white gloves. Her blunt, blonde bob, side-swept bangs, and faint hint of tan lines prove that her style was largely set more than 25 years ago. Every era her clothing is inspired from is coupled with those So-Cal roots, and hers was not an image created by record executives or a team of stylists—it’s genuine.

After years of designing costumes to perform in onstage while touring with her band No Doubt—such as zipper-adorned pants, cut-off tops (literally), and a few fairy tale numbers— Stefani embarked on her first collaboration with L.A.M.B. and LeSportsac (the former an acronym of her debut solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby.) that consisted of her well known monogramed tanks and a range of handbags and accessories. In 2003, the brand was officially founded and a collision of designs inspired by India, Guatemala, Japan, and Jamaica launched into the world. What started off as a clothing line quickly spread into footwear, handbags, watches, and fragrances, within just a few years accruing an annual gross income of $90 million.

Achieving an entire “Twin Stefani” look was easier than ever, although the price range of the brand was slightly higher than other contemporary lines. In 2005, her Harajuku Lovers line hit the scene. Inspired by the Shibuya, Tokyo district Harajuku that Stefani has professed love for on multiple occasions, the characters the brand focused on were based off the singer and her backup dancer during “The Harajuku Lovers Tour.” Lower price sets, ultra-cute designs, and the addition of stationery were aimed for a teen fan base that wanted a piece of the cutie-pie, but at an attainable price tag.

In 2011, squeals were heard from mothers everywhere when Target announced a next collaboration, Harajuku Mini, and the collection vanished as fast as Stefani’s braces circa 1999 (almost forgot about that, didn’t you?). The same fan base that scooped up the unique designs the first year of L.A.M.B.’s arrival was now hoping to dress their children like Stefani does her own sons.

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More than a decade has passed since L.A.M.B. stepped into our closets, and the multi-media mogul hasn’t begun to hit the brakes. Early this year, she debuted, GX by Gwen Stefani, a run of footwear and handbags for (where her good friend Rachel Zoe is chief stylist). With soaring heels in muli-textured details, bold colors, and graphic patterns, the efforts are trendy yet modern, sexy but tasteful, and every inch a reflection of the singer.

Next up for the 44-year-old is the brand she started with denim whiz Michael Glasser, who was the force behind lines 7 For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, and Rich and Skinny. The new line, DWP (Design With Purpose), is made of everyday separates that often contain a subtle, unexpected twist of details—its relaxed and lightweight fabrics are combined with slouchy trousers, cropped blouses, and the occasional dress or jumper—made to fit into any woman’s wardrobe. The goal is to keep the line as denim-free as possible and at a price range that doesn’t cause sticker shock. Better yet, it’s made right here in the States, specifically out of Vernon, California, sharing production space in Glasser’s factory with Rich and Skinny. •

Gwen Stefani