Mr Men and Little Miss generate annual retail sales of $100 million worldwide and the brand is Chorion's biggest in EMEA. Apparel is the largest category, and there are 16 licensees active in apparel in the U.K. alone, with about 50 operating worldwide.
Demand for Mr Men apparel keeps growing and Chorion's resulting apparel strategy has taken a significant step up in the fashion business. New packaging, creative treatments and style guide for the brand (which will be on view at Brand Licensing Europe) reflect
"We were very happy riding on the successful self-expression brand, but we wanted to rejuvenate the apparel strategy and create multi-territory appeal," says Bettina Koeckler, Chorion's senior vice president of licensing for EMEA.
Chorion worked with trend forecasting experts such as WGSN and encouraged creative work by existing licensees to inject a new twist into the brand and create a more fashion-oriented offering.
"Working with people at the heart of the fashion business means we have moved on from just a picture of a 'Bump' to something much more sophisticated such as the new Little Miss Sunshine collection," says Koeckler.
This collection, created by U.K-based agency Watermelon, will launch spring 2011 in the U.S. supported by robust marketing programs and public relations, and with expansion likely into the U.K., France, Australia and Japan. Aimed primarily at teens and young adult women, the clothing features new graphic treatments on trapeze shape tees, turn-up shorts and retro gym bags.
The Junk Food NBA collection also breaks new ground, featuring items cross-licensed with Mr Men and Little Miss characters and NBA teams. It will be launched at MAGIC this year and distributed in the U.S. for the start of the NBA season this fall, with likely expansion into additional territories such as the U.K., Canada and Mexico.
The new look for the brand (which will come through on products next year) goes back to the clear outlines of the original book covers and celebrates the personality trait of each character such as Tickle, Cheeky, Happy and Silly. It is fresh and timely and there is no longer a distinction between TV and book. "The consumer just wants their favorite character," says Koeckler.
Fun is had with the characters, dressing up, using accessories and showing more imaginative flair.
"We want the consumer to enjoy the characters. The result is that licensees such as Fabric Flavours and Junk Food can get really creative with the characters and that every retailer ends up with something special," says Koeckler.
This summer saw the launch of Mr Men and Little Miss baby clothing. When Chorion acquired the brand, it took all the baby products out of the market but re-launched in the U.K. with Mothercare in June through licensee Crystal Martin. George at Asda launches its baby line in November. In Germany and France, Sahinler Group's babywear rolls out alongside its existing line for kids and Blues Clothing is developing a full range of classic Mr Men and Little Miss apparel for tweens, teens and adults for retail in France for 2011.
"The beauty of Mr Men is that we can surprise retailers with new ideas about how to use the characters and keep them fresh and funny. We're taking the brand from a license to something standing out with a fashion sense in its own right, and the creative work that's been done by the licensees has really helped to achieve this," says Koeckler.
Disney Consumer Products (DCP) has been setting the standard when it comes to finessing old and new franchises across retail channels, especially in the high-end marketplace. The most recent example was the buzz created around the
Alice in Wonderland
film where Disney teamed with hot designers such as Sue Wong and partnered with Bloomingdale's to create a fantasy window display that garnered significant press coverage.
"We have been in high-end retail for the last eight to 10 years and what is a little different is that we are communicating it in a more meaningful way," says Stephen Teglas, vice president and general manager, fashion and home, at Disney Consumer Products.
Disney recently released an exclusive line of Toy Story 3 T-shirts retailing for $70 to $108 at Revolveclothing. Next up: Disney Consumer Products has lined up partners for a
-inspired collection of men's performance apparel leading up to the Dec. 17 release of the film. Partners include Adidas for apparel, Burton for snowboarding boots, Hurley for casual sportswear and surfwear and Oakley for sunglasses. Teglas points out that the DCP strategy extends beyond its movie franchises.
"Mickey and Minnie Mouse are some of our most evergreen franchises that we are able to stretch and develop product content and tell that story to the upscale strategy as well as mass. In November, we will launch a very unique design look that is kind of unexpected in the design aspect, but fun for a juniors' customer," says Teglas.
The Disney Couture by Lauren Moshi collection will resemble the old stuffed animal featuring buttons as the eyes and a body with patches, stitches and safety pins and with the stuffing falling out. The collection will offer flowy and fitted T-shirts, tanks, dresses, pullovers and totes in a color palette of black, white, ash and rust. Items range in price from $92 to $196 and will be available at retailers including Kitson, Dash and Nordstrom.
• Kids Republic and Warner Bros. Consumer Products will launch a line for boys based on DC Comics super heroes and villains. The range will be ready for the back-to-school season at stores including Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's. The line ($14 to $39) will feature T-shirts and will expand to woven shirts, hooded sweatshirts and fashion bottoms.
• William Rast, a fashion brand from Justin Timberlake and Trace Ayala, will launch an exclusive line for men and women at Target on Dec. 19 and will run through Jan. 22. The line will include denim, outerwear and sportswear.
• Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products U.K. has signed new partners for the U.K. in time for the second season of "Glee." An apparel launch is scheduled for September 2010 to coincide with music and DVD releases from the hit series. Smith & Brooks will launch an initial range of casualwear aimed at girls ages 12 and up. BCI International will be launching a nightwear and loungewear collection, alongside sock partner Roy Lowes.
• The Licensing Co. will oversee a European merchandise program for Skechers for categories including apparel, accessories, hosiery, bags, sporting goods and luggage.
• Universal Partnerships and Licensing has tapped Mighty Fine for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World-inspired T-shirts. The range for teens and adults will be available at Hot Topic and Transworld, as well as boutiques and comic book stores. The T-shirts will also be available at
• The Collegiate Licensing Co. has teamed up with Infinity Headwear and Apparel to launch a costume collection inspired by mascots. MascotWear will include infant and child Halloween costumes, hooded tops, towels, bathrobes, sleepwear and rainwear. The line will hit in August and an adult collection is expected in 2011.
• Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar is currently Sainsbury's top-selling baby line and Brecrest is readying a second range at the retailer for November together with a first line for Asda. Very Hungry Caterpillar licensor Chorion is now expanding the line to appeal for toddlers with licensee Aykroyds, which will produce pajama sets for Debenhams.
• Vision Street Wear, a brand that re-defined street style in the 1980s, has been re-launched through a partnership between Collective Licensing International and Bioworld Merchandising. The line includes apparel, headwear and accessories and incorporates bold skating motifs and contemporary trends.
• Montefiore will produce apparel for babies based on Planeta Junior's "Puppy in My Pocket" series. The clothing will hit retailers this October. "Puppy in My Pocket" is set to air in October on Italia 1. The animated series is a co-production between Gruppo Preziosi, Meg Toys and Mondo TV.
• ABG Accessories will produce Boondock Saints headwear, gloves, and belts and buckles. The deal was brokered by the Joy Tashjian Marketing Group. Product will be available in fourth quarter 2010. The indie thriller debuted as a film in 1999 with a sequel in 2009.
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