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Kai Ryssdal: There's magic happening in Las Vegas today. Not just the kind where guys in sequined suits make ladies disappear either. MAGIC is the name of a big conference of fashion buyers and sellers this week. That may help explain why someone chose right now to leak a rumor that Madonna may be releasing her own clothing line. That and a little thing called Fashion Week that's happening in New York City right now.
But no matter the reason, Marketplace's Rico Gagliano reports that if the rumor is true, it'll be one of the biggest -- but certainly not the only example -- of superstars hitting the runway this year.
RICO GAGLIANO: Women's Wear Daily broke the news. They quote anonymous sources that say Madonna will license her name to a fashion line, to be sold solely at Macy's department store. Neither Macy's nor -- big surprise -- Madonna returned calls today asking to confirm. But if it's true, the line would be a big deal, especially for Macy's.
Marshall Cohen is a retail analyst with the NPD Group.
MARSHALL COHEN: One of the big issues that retailers have been wrestling with is how do they separate themselves from one another. And by getting in partnership with a celebrity or a designer and having exclusive product, it's one of the best ways to differentiate yourself.
Still, both celebrity and retailer have to be careful not to tarnish a star's brand. Cohen says for every celebrity fashion line that succeeds, two fail.
COHEN: In some cases like Sarah Jessica Parker and the Venus Williams lines, these were products that were in partnership with a retailer who was trying to sell them at really low prices and making the product at very low quality. In some cases they had fit issues, quality issues and even style issues.
Which explains why some stars do more than just let someone stitch their names into a T-shirt. Last summer the Olsen Twins were actually inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers for their work on their clothing line The Row. And Jessica Simpson is reportedly hands-on with the line that bears her name.
Leah Wahba is a VP at the Camuto Group, which owns the Simpson license.
LEAH WAHBA: She will be wearing a coat and she'll say, "You know what? I would like to see the pockets slant sideways as opposed to being vertical, because women want a flattering cut and they need to be on the side."
Then again, maybe you don't always want a hands-on approach. Jenni Farley, also known as "Jwoww" on the trashy reality show "Jersey Shore," she's got a fashion line this year, too.
In Los Angeles, I'm Rico Gagliano for Marketplace.