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Monetizing celebrity

Illustration of a dollar sign in the style of a Hollywood Walk of Fame star
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

One set of retailers is doing a great job of bucking the retailpocalypse trend: famous people.

Why it matters: If you want your retail store to be swarmed, it helps to be a YouTube influencer. A pop-up shop for David Dobrik's hoodie-centric Clickbait brand attracted 10,000 fans in a single weekend. More established retailers like Nordstrom have teamed up with influencers like Gal Meets Glam's Julia Engel to drive traffic and sales.

Other examples:

  • Rihanna, having already launched a lingerie line and a hugely successful makeup brand, has now joined LVMH, where Fenty has become a fully fledged international fashion house. Its products, including $460 antisocial sunglasses, are available only online.
  • Kylie Jenner is reportedly a billionaire, as is Jay-Z. Other celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow (Goop), Kate Hudson (Fabletics) and Jessica Alba (Honest) are also having more financial success in retail than they ever did in Hollywood.
  • Shopify, a platform that makes it easy for influencers and celebrities to sell goods directly from Instagram, has doubled its share price in 2019 so far. It is now worth more than $30 billion.
  • Cameo, a startup that gives boldface names the opportunity to sell personalized videos to fans, is raising a new round of financing at a $300 million valuation, per Axios' Dan Primack.
  • Techstyle Fashion Group, which is behind both Fabletics and Savage X Fenty, has raised more than $415 million in equity capital, per PitchBook. It describes itself as "a platform to build high-value global fashion brands."
  • Authentic Brands Group recently bought Sports Illustrated magazine for $110 million; it already owns brands under celebrity names from Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley to Greg Norman and Shaquille O'Neal.

The bottom line: Abercrombie & Fitch is closing flagship stores because they do a dreadful job of driving online sales. Meanwhile, the reverse syndrome — online influencers driving in-store sales — is only getting started. After you add in direct sales from Instagram, being famous has never been more lucrative.

Go deeper: The death of department stores