Obama merchandise: Bright spot for stores

$150 crystal-studded T-shirt, $70 tote among items spurring sales as nation awaits inauguration of 44th president.

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By Lara Moscrip, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

Obama merchandise: Sweet spot for stores Obama merchandise: Sweet spot for stores Obama merchandise: Sweet spot for stores
Designers and retailers are hoping to cash in on Inauguration Day frenzy with a plethora of Obama-bilia.
What should President Obama's first priority be?
  • Finalize a foreclosure plan
  • Work with Congress on economic stimulus
  • Fix the bank bailout program
  • Detail how he will cut the federal budget

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Retail sales have contracted as consumers slow their spending, but gear linked to President-elect Barack Obama is generating sales for many retailers and designers.

Businesses including Amazon.com (AMZN, Fortune 500), niche clothing line Sean John and a score of haute couture designers are among the those celebrating Obama's inauguration.

On Amazon.com, the most popular items are T-shirts, hats, tie clips and beanies emblazoned with Obama's visage. Obama paraphernalia even has its own section in the Amazon Inauguration store, where top items are ranked, according a company spokeswoman.

Obama-related merchandise is a bright spot in a dark time for retail, said Dawn Robertson, president of Sean John, media mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs' clothing brand.

She said the company has sold "hundreds of thousands" of Obama-related T-shirts since launching the items in mid-November in department stores and specialty stores across the country. The $28 t-shirts sport slogans such as 'Voted and Won' and 'Yes We Did.'

"It worked, people really embraced it. Retailers and customers bought it across the board," Robertson said. The shirts will remain for sale a few weeks after the inauguration.

The Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC), a nonprofit organization charged with orchestrating the inauguration, asked several top designers to create Obama-themed designs to decorate t-shirts, tote bags and a scarf.

The money raised will help defray the multimillion-dollar costs for the inauguration celebrations, according to committee spokesman Brent Colburn.

The goods, which range from $150 for a crystal-studded t-shirt to $40 for a scarf, will be sold online and in a store in Washington until February.

Many of the designs feature the words 'Change' and the image or 'Obama.'

Designer Rachel Roy created a shirt with the words "I (heart) my president."

"It was my hope that the slogan would communicate the faith we have in Obama to be the change we need and the change he represents," Roy wrote in a statement.

The committee's Runway to Change section includes handbags from Diane von Furstenberg and Tory Burch, t-shirts from Zac Posen, Narciso Rodriguez, Donna Karan, Beyonce, Derek Lam, Juicy Couture and Gerald Matthews, and a scarf designed by Alexander Wang. To top of page

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