Celebrity appeal is helping retailers

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This holiday season you’re likely to spot singer Jennifer Lopez in Kohl’s. You could get a peek at pop-music icon Madonna in Macy’s. You might even catch a glimpse of Kim Kardashian in Sears.

Well, not literally. They’re not likely to make guest appearances in the aisles of your favorite department stores. But clothes, shoes and even ties that bear their names will.

It is part of a big push by stores to cash in on celebrities’ money-making names. The move can be savvy. It can also be risky. The stars, figuratively, have to be aligned for celebrity lines to become a hit with shoppers. That can mean having the right celebrity pair up with the right store at the right time with the right amount of involvement in the design of the line.

“If it’s simply to monetize your moment in the sun, it is not going to work in the long term,” said Ivanka Trump, the daughter of real estate mogul Donald Trump, who is an executive vice president for his Trump Organization and appeared on his Apprentice reality TV show.

Trump, 31, has a line of $150 handbags and $125 pumps at Lord & Taylor and other department stores. “You have to be involved in every aspect of the product line,” she says.

Celebs have long dabbled in design. But with the growth of TV shows and Web sites that follow everything celebrities say, wear and do, interest in their clothing lines has increased in recent years. Indeed, revenue in North America from celebrity clothing lines, excluding merchandise linked to athletes, rose 6 percent last year to $7.58 billion, according to The Licensing Letter, an industry trade publication. That’s on top of a nearly 5 percent increase in 2010.

Major department stores, facing growing competition from trendy fashion chains such as H&M, Mango and Zara, have jumped on the trend. They’re hoping to reap benefits from the lines during the holiday shopping season in November through December, a time when stores can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. Big stores now get as much as a quarter of their sales from celebrity brands, which is up from under 10 percent five years ago, according to market research firm NPD Group.

As interest from stores and shoppers grows, so does the list of celebs with their own lines. Madonna, 54, has a new Truth or Dare line of perfume, over-the-knee lace-up boots and other shoes at several department stores. Nicole Richie, 31, former reality TV star and daughter of singer and songwriter Lionel Richie, earlier this year rolled out an eponymous clothing line of $86.50 floral maxi skirts and $49.50 lace tops on QVC home shopping network.

Singer Jennifer Hudson’s new fashion collection was launched on QVC this fall. Her line includes $96.50 hooded jackets, $53 blouses and one of her favorite wardrobe staples – $50 leggings. Hudson, a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers, said her goal is to appeal to women of all sizes.

“Every piece is a part of me,” said Hudson, 31, who recently slimmed down from a size 16 to a 6. “And it came from something that I have worn or would wear.”


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