A New Fashion Model

From the moment First Lady Michelle Obama stepped out for the inauguration along with her JCrew-clad kids in bright colors, the industry sensed a wave of change that they hope can make registers ring once again. As many he

April 6, 2018

12 Min Read

From the moment First Lady Michelle Obama stepped out for the inauguration along with her JCrew-clad kids in bright colors, the industry sensed a wave of change that they hope can make registers ring once again. As many head to MAGIC, there is an air of hope. i1_501.jpg

The apparel business can use the spark. According to SpendingPulse, a sales tracking firm in Purchase, N.Y., while total U.S. retail sales, excluding gasoline, slid 2 percent to 4 percent during the weeks in November and December over the year-ago period, apparel sales plummeted between 19 percent to 21 percent. Hardest hit was the women's category, with declines of 22 percent to 23 percent. Men's apparel sales faired a little better, posting an overall 14.3 percent falloff during the recent holiday season.

Felix Mercado, celebrity fashion stylist/expert and founder of Say It With Style, agrees that shoppers need to wowed. "The most important thing is to know who your customer is and produce a quality product he/she will ultimately decide whether they can or can't live without," he says.

He thinks the economy could favor young, but affordable, talent. "This season, and over the course of the rest of this year, retailers will be looking for styles that are new and fresh, but most importantly, priced really well to lure customers back into stores," he tells License! Global.

Retailers agree and although they want to be optimistic, they are being realistic and realizing price is more important than ever. Kara Ornato, the owner of fashion boutique Bottega Giuliana in New Haven, Conn., will be looking for cleaner cut styles for 2009 and will also be on the hunt for lower-priced items.

She says the economy has changed retail buying patterns. Manufacturers are expected to go into production closer to the selling season this year, as a way to guard against surplus inventory. The move could disrupt retailers' buying routines. "Typically, you would buy six months in advance of the season. Now, we might be buying in August for fall," says Ornato. Understandably, she added, "nobody wants excess right now." Otherwise, she is hoping manufacturers will lower minimum purchase requirements this year, "to make it affordable for us [smaller retailers]." i4_90.jpg

Roseanne Morrison, fashion director for The Doneger Group, classifies the looks that manufacturers hope will be must-haves into three themes—school of rock, town and country, and folk lore. Additionally, the major licensed looks continue to be those based on up-and-coming TV programming for kids. As far as celebrity licenses, the hip/hop rockers grab the headlines.

School of Rock: This look was teased in last season's back-to-school period, but will be in full force for 2009, said Morrison. It is reflected in plaids, buffalo checks and C.P.O. shirts. The looks will translate from clothing right down to footwear. Tees will feature iconic symbols, many dating back to the 1960s. Distressed denim is making a comeback, along with dark rinses and even black and gray denim.

While denim has endured some competitive pressure recently from leggings and other leg wear forms, "It is still always going to be hot," declares Anastasia Lee, marketing director for V.O. (Virgin Only) Jeans, a contemporary denim manufacturer based in Los Angeles that will be exhibiting at MAGIC. For 2009, V.O. is focusing on ankle-skinnies and distressed and ripped styles, and is introducing an ocean blue and a red denim in its spring and summer collection. i5_73.jpg

EBay style director Constance White agrees leggings will be key, and will be updated with a liquid metal look. Anything reminiscient of the 1980s will play a major role in spring and summer apparel. White even portends a return to jumpsuits.

Town and Country: Upcoming fashion trends also include styles that evoke a weekend in the country—especially an English countryside. This includes plaids, tweed and khaki. "We're going to see more bows and interesting fabrics. Cardigans will be big with a chunkier stitch," said Morrison. In outerwear, this will be translated into anoraks, safari jackets and windbreakers. This look will even hit legwear, according to Wayne Lederman, president of Leg Resource in New York, the maker of fashion hosiery under both private label and licensed brands, including Nicole Miller, Anne Klein and Betsy Johnson. "We are expanding our tight assortment to include more textures and sweater knits, and we are really going after different and new fabrications, such as bamboo tights and aloe vera-treated tights. There will also be more emphasis on cashmere." He adds that legwear will be a focus for fall 2009 because tights are "a way for a woman to update her wardrobe for a relatively little amount of money," he said.

Folk Lore: Another major theme expected for 2009 is an extension of bohemian looks that started appearing in 2008. Several manufacturers said they expect to use more paisley, embroidery and novelty stitches. "We'll see a lot of tunic dresses with matching tights," adds Morrison.

Collaborations are also sure to blossom in 2009. Burt Tanksy, Neiman Marcus Group president, recently spoke at the National Retail Federation's annual meeting where he said his merchants are looking for more exclusives. i6_53.jpg

While Neiman Marcus eyes name-brand exclusives, Target keeps up with its lines created especially for its stores. Timing couldn't have been better for Target and its Thakoon Panichgul exclusive launch. First Lady Obama has been a fan of the designer, and Panichgul was the creative force behind her dress at the Democratic National Convention as well as events prior to the inauguration. The collection, called Thakoon for Target GO International, is priced from $16.99 to $44.99 and features prints with Panichugul's Eastern heritage.

In other licensed properties, experts expect to see rock star-backed brands to flourish such as Apple Bottoms by Nelly and Dereon Jeans from Beyonce, as well known existing logos such as Skechers. Skechers, in fact, is launching a children's clothing line from Adjmi Apparel Group in retailers that carry the popular footwear.

Also in kids, the popularity of Dora continues and has been joined by interest in a Nick Jr. show that teaches Mandarin Chinese (much like Dora taught Spanish) called Ni Hao, Kai-lan. Parents appear to like teaming up learning with licensed merchandise as demonstrated with all new apparel and accessories based on Super Why! from Out of the Blue Enterprises. Super Why! fans get a chance to transform into superheroes with clothing from the PBS Kids show from six fashion companies—Kids Headquarters, Berkshire, Global Design Concept, Handcraft, H.E.R. accessories and Pan Oceanic. The range debuts for back to school 2009.

No mention of 2009 is complete without noting Barbie's 50th birthday and the myriad promotions that will celebrate the event from a runway show during fashion week to shoes designed by Christian Louboutin.

Speaking of shoes, eBay's White concludes that footwear will feature dramatic statement looks for spring and summer into fall. Bold and chunky shoes as well as color block and plaid sneakers will all help consumers finish off fresh new looks. "People do have at least some money to spend and will spend on the right item," says White. i7_40.jpg

A line of do-it-yourself kits inspired by "Project Runway" are in development through FAB/Starpoint and will arrive in stores this summer.

The Project Runway kits for teens and tweens will range from handbags and hats to stationery and room accessories.

FAB/Starpoint's current portfolio includes Paul Frank, Hello Kitty, Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, Spider-Man and Transformers.

Miffy, represented by DRi Licensing in the U.K., has signed a roster of new retail deals that expand the property on the high street this spring.

New deals for Miffy are with Sainsbury's Tu and with Mothercare. Sainsbury's Tu will launch a babywear range of sleepsuits and bodysuits, while Mothercare will feature two Miffy T-shirts for girls 6 months to 4 years old.

Marks & Spencer is offering a collection of colorful clothing for girls aged 1 to 8 years. Already in store, the spring collection includes Miffy Princess-themed pajamas and slippers, T-shirts and a hoodie zip top.

TopShop and New Look will offer pajamas this year, with New Look also running a Miffy maternity top with a birds and bees design.

American Greetings Properties is developing a new classic Strawberry Shortcake program targeted to tweens, teens and young adults for specialty and mid-tier channels, including apparel from Junk Food and Fortune Fashions (T-shirts). And for the first time, classic Strawberry Shortcake will be available for the mass market, as well as the first-ever classic infant/toddler program for the mass market. i2_220.jpg

American Greetings Properties is seeking partners for apparel and accessories for both Care Bears and Holly Hobbie Classic, as well as for its new property, Maryoku Yummy, a girl who makes wishes come true in the world of Yummy.

Now and Zen Productions has scooped up apparel rights for two Cartoon Network original comedy series, "Chowder" and "Flapjack."

The lines for both properties, to debut at specialty retailers in spring 2009, will feature T-shirts and fleece tops for juniors and young men. This is the first licensing deal for the two Cartoon Network shows.

"Chowder" follows the missteps and successes of a young chef's first job in the city of Marzipan and airs on the network's Har Har Tharsdays block. "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" tells the adventure story of a naive young boy and his friends who seek out an island along with Captain K'nuckles and a wise blue whale.

Paramount has a number of T-shirt lines being promoted at MAGIC incorporating several of its top movie properties. Shirts featuring Grease, Footloose and Flashdance will be available through licensee Fifth Sun. These T-shirts will have mass-market distribution with SRPs ranging from $9.99 to $12.99.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tommy Boy and Bad News Bears imagery will be on high-quality Ts available through a deal with Mighty Fine. These men's tees will be sold at high-end retailers and boutiques priced between $19 and $24.99.

80sTees.com|~www.80sTees.com/ will offer Top Gun, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Footloose, The Warriors, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy T-shirt designs for a SRP of $14.99.

To keep the Pepsi brand fresh, innovative and on trend, the Joester Loria Group utilizes a number of different artists to develop seasonal graphics for their licensees to incorporate into Pepsi-branded merchandise. These images are based on current trends in the marketplace reflecting that retailers are going back to their roots and developing Americana retro and nostalgia lifestyle fashion programs.

Distribution of Pepsi apparel has been expanded to specialty and mid-tier retailers including Urban Outfitters, Kohl's and Target. The brand also has the No. 1 shirt at Walmart.

New designs will incorporate bold graphics, colors and patterns, a strong mixing and clashing of textures and colors such as spray paints, drips and splatters, and classic tattoo-inspired graphics in combination with hand-drawn embellishments.

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing has dealt a portfolio of more than 25 TV and movie properties to Ripple Junction for a new line of T-shirts to arrive at retailers early this year.

Ripple Junction will create T-shirts centered on Fox properties from Die Hard and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" to "Doogie Howser M.D." Other titles include "Angel," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "How I Met Your Mother," "King of the Hill," The Fly and Planet of the Apes.

Mighty Fine is debuting new product assortments for juniors', men's and toddler's labels.

For spring and summer 2009, Mighty Fine's Imaginary People is introducing new partnerships with Hershey's, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ugly Dolls and Dr. Seuss. New fashion bodies include the cinch back tank, tapered dolman and the oversized tee, alongside treatments including printed neck ribbing and contrast neck detailing. Public Library will be launching a new Ziggy collaboration in its April 2009 collection. Mighty Fine's Mustache Brigade has added a lineup of Muppets and Peanuts men's tees with a new color palette and v-neck body for April and June 2009. Mini Fine and Disney Couture Baby are set to launch summer 2009 infant and toddler collections with new characters including Hello Kitty and SpongeBob.

Mighty Fine is partnering with The Hershey Company for a collection of retro styles for men, juniors and tweens and introducing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for junior and infant categories.

The PBS Kids show Super Why! from Out of the Blue Enterprises is planning a 2009 back-to-school apparel collection based on the characters from the show.

Six companies have signed on—master apparel licensee Kids Headquarters, Berkshire, Global Design Concept, Handcraft, H.E.R Accessories and Pan Oceanic—for the line that will include T-shirts, pajamas, hats, umbrellas, sunglasses, scarves, gloves, rainwear and jewelry.

Entertainment Rights continues to celebrate Waldo's 21st birthday with young men's and junior sleepwear, loungewear and daywear from Briefly Stated and young men's and junior T-shirts and fleece from Giant—available in specialty chains, boutiques and department stores this spring, and at mass market in 2010. i3_127.jpg

Chop Socky Chooks, viewed in more than 97 million U.S. homes five days a week on Cartoon Network, will have new T-shirts and headwear at the February 2009 MAGIC show.

ABG will be showing a range of headwear including fleece hats, beanies, knit caps and baseball caps. A Chop Socky Chooks signature "ninja chimp" acrylic knit novelty beanie will feature embroidered ears and cutout eyeholes. Distribution beginning in fall 2009 will be through mass-market retailers and other retail stores nationwide.

Changes will introduce a range of Chop Socky Chooks boys, youth and junior T-shirts featuring designs inspired by the urban-vinyl look of the show. Available now at mass market and other retail stores nationwide.

Former Stone Temple Pilots front man Scott Weiland has paired up with Rock & Roll Religion designer Christopher Wicks for a new contemporary menswear collection to debut next month.

Weiland for English Laundry will feature wovens, vests, T-shirts, pants, hats, ties and scarves inspired by vintage patterns from 1965 through 1979. The line, which retails from $40 to $120, will premiere at MAGIC. It will also be open to the public next month at the English Laundry flagship store in Los Angeles, Calif., as well as at globalrebels.com

Rock & Roll Religion owner Wicks also leads brands such as Fender: The Clothing Collection and The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry Article
Join 62,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like