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Celebs turn their fame into clothing lines

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 reality TV star Kim Kardashian in Sears. Well, not literally. These celebrities likely won't be making guest appearances in the aisles of your favorite department stores. But clothes, shoes and even ties that bear their names will. It's part of a big push by stores to cash in on celebrities' money-making names. The move can be savvy. After all, who wouldn't want to don the stylish duds of a superstar? It can also be risky. The stars, figuratively, have to be aligned for celebrity lines to become hits 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 said.

Revenue from celebrity clothing lines, excluding merchandise linked to athletes, rose 6 percent last year to $7.58 billion in North America, according to the latest figures available by the Licensing Letter, an industry trade publication.

As interest from stores and shoppers grows, so does the list of celebs with their own lines. Rocker Jon Bon Jovi, 50, just inked a fragrance deal with Avon. 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 the QVC home shopping network.

But attaching a star's name to a T-shirt or earrings does not guarantee success. The lines can be a gamble for stores. For one, their success often is closely tied to one person whose popularity can fade quickly among finicky fans. And while shoppers may grab celebrity brands when the lines debut, they may not return if they don't like what they see after that.

Indeed, industry experts say for every celebrity brand that is a hit, five others flop. Anyone remember hip-hop star and actor LL Cool J's casual clothing line with Sears? It lasted less than a year after its launch in 2008. Lopez, 43, shuttered her Sweetface clothing collection in 2009, six years after launching it at several department stores, in part because shoppers didn't believe that the line matched her glam style. The collection, which included sweat pants instead of the fitted dresses Lopez is known for sporting, was seen as too casual.

But Lopez learned from that line. Last year, she launched an exclusive collection for Kohl's, which offers $99.99 platform wedge boots and $60 animal print faux-wrap dresses under her name. The collection is faring well, according to Kohl's, although the chain declined to give sales figures.

Odd pairings can be a concern. Sears raised eyebrows when it announced that it would carry clothes under the "Kardashian" name. The collection, which was launched last year, is named after Keeping Up With the Kardashians realty TV stars Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian.

The fashions embrace the individual looks of the sisters — Kim's glamorous style, Kourtney's Bohemian chic look and Khloe's rocker influence. There are $99 leopard print maxi dresses, $24 snakeskin print earrings and $40 metallic striped tops.

Celebs turn their fame into clothing lines 11/27/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 10:06pm]
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