Jul 21, 2023 - Economy

Celebrity retail brands surging in popularity

Illustration of a hand holding gold shopping bags.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Celebrities are starting retail brands at a feverish pace, capitalizing on their social media prowess to sell goods to customers interested in their brands.

Why it matters: The celebrity retail phenomenon entered a new stratosphere this week when Kim Kardashian's apparel brand, Skims, raised money at a $4 billion valuation.

  • Kardashian started Skims in 2019 as a shapewear brand. It's now expanding into swimwear and loungewear and plans to launch men's clothing in the fall, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reported.

By the numbers: About 60% of all celebrity retail brands were founded in the last six years, according to a new report by real estate firm JLL.

  • Essentially all of them started online.
  • "We saw a lot of celebrities in the last three years especially start these brands while they were unable to go on tour or go on movie sets and looked for other ways to make money," C. Ebere Anokute, JLL's research manager of U.S. retail, tells Axios.

Zoom in: After getting traction with digital sales and sales partnerships with chains like Ulta and Sephora, some celebrity brands are now branching into their own physical locations — with 76% locating their shops in malls.

  • Kate Hudson's Fabletics has the biggest physical presence among celebrity brands with 95 stores. Drake's October's Very Own is next with 11, and Sarah Jessica Parker's SJP Collection has 6, according to JLL.
  • Celebrity brands have more than 300,000 square feet of physical retail space: "We think it's going to grow," Anokute says.

Between the lines: 53% of the celebrity retail brands are focused on beauty and cosmetics products, such as Rihanna's Fenty Beauty brand and Kim's sister, Kylie Jenner's, Kylie Cosmetics.

  • 41% are focused on apparel and footwear, such as influencer Arielle Charnas' Something Navy and Rihanna's other business, lingerie brand Savage X Fenty.

But, but, but: There are even more celebrity brands than this. JLL intentionally didn't track alcohol offerings, of which there are dozens.

The bottom line: Turning celebrity into sales is easier than ever.

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