Celebrity lines pop up in stores

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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 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 is part of a big push by stores to cash in on celebrities' moneymaking 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 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," says 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 websites 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 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 Port Washington market research firm NPD Group.

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But celebrity lines can be a gamble for stores. Shoppers may grab celebrity brands when the lines debut, but they may not return if they don't like what they see after that.

"The celebrity name draws the fan base to the product, but at the end of the day, the product has to stand on itself," says Michael Stone, president of The Beanstalk Group, a global brand licensing agency. "It has to be well priced and well designed."

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