Licensed fashion is exploding, from entertainment property collaborations with well-known designers and high-end retailers to brands entertaining new categories to even more celebrity ranges.
Fox Builds 'Empire' Appeal
The hit show "Empire" has become a fashion powerhouse, and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products will certainly be building the brand at MAGIC this year across a number of platforms.
"The influence 'Empire' has had on so many aspects of popular culture proves that it has the ingredients to become a standalone fashion brand," said Jeffrey Godsick, president, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, earlier this year.
To underscore that statement, the series' second season premiere last fall was celebrated with an exclusive partnership with high-end fashion retailer
Items from each designer were curated to create an "Empire" collection at select Saks Fifth Avenue stores and online at
, with "Empire"-curated windows that were featured at the retailer's New York City and Beverly Hills, Calif., flagships. Furthering the retailer's support for the property and accompanying fashion line, "Empire" actor Trai Byers was featured on the cover of Saks Fifth Avenue's fall magazine.
In November, Twentieth Century Fox Television teamed up with fashion label Hood By Air for a new line based on the series. Designer Shawn Oliver's HBA x Empire collection featured a wide range of products including sweatshirts, dresses, shorts and tops.
Also for the series, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products recently announced a new collaboration with e-commerce company Delivery Agent to launch a new online store that features "Empire"-inspired products. The e-shop,
, offers a full range of fashion and accessories that targets all ages and demographics. The line includes jersey dresses, varsity jackets and vests.
The December 2015 release of
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
from Disney/Lucasfilm has given a jumpstart to the
mega-brand, and manufacturers and retailers are supporting the franchise's return to the big screen with a wide range of apparel ranges and collaborations.
Fast fashion retailer Forever 21 debuted a limited edition apparel line inspired by the classic
films. The collection, which launched in stores and online in December, just ahead of the film's Dec. 18 U.S. premiere, boasts 30 SKUs including sweatpants, bodysuits, dresses, t-shirts and more.
Junior's retailer Hot Topic also bet heavily on the franchise with an all-new
fashion collection from fangirl fashion company Her Universe. The collection includes dresses, sweaters, jackets and fashion tops and is available now exclusively at select Hot Topic stores and online at
. Hot Topic supported the collection with a program by Her Universe founder and "Star Wars Rebels" voice actress Ashley Eckstein, asking fans to share their unique
story on social media using the hashtag #MyStarWarsStory.
The franchise also went formal with a boys' collection of neckwear from men's accessories company CuffLinks. Partnering with Lucasfilm, CuffLinks created a collection that features characters from the franchise such as Darth Vader, Storm Troopers and Yoda. Product, targeted to boys ages 3 to 12, is now available at Nordstrom, better specialty stores and on
Cherokee Takes on New Retailers
Cherokee Global Brands has been signing agreements with new retail partners and will likely expand its reach at the MAGIC event.
One such agreement is the company's recent pairing with Walmart Canada to launch a broad assortment of branded gear for young men and boys into the country under its Tony Hawk range. The new line covers apparel, accessories and footwear for boys and will launch in time for back-to-school.
The company also entered into a new license agreement with Saborn Licensing Company for its Cherokee brand to bring a wide assortment of men's, women's and children's clothing and accessories to department stores, specialty stores and hypermarkets in countries throughout Western and Central Europe including Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and select Scandinavian countries. Product is expected to launch this fall.
Last spring, Cherokee sealed a pair of licensing agreements with Sears Canada for its Liz Lange Maternity and Sportswear and Cherokee brands. Under the Liz Lange deal, Sears Canada will sell the "maternity chic" collection of affordable maternity pieces such as jeans, t-shirts, dresses and swimsuits in Sears Canada stores and online at
. The new line will be available this spring. The Canadian collection will come in an expanded size range that covers "pregnancy and beyond," according to the company. Cherokee and Sears Canada also struck a new multi-year agreement for Cherokee brand men's, women's and children's clothing, as well as footwear and accessories.
Plus-Size Market Expands
Fashion bloggers Gabi Gregg, Chastity Garner-Valentine and Nicolette Mason
The fashion industry is paying more attention to the plus-size market, and new launches and licensing agreements will give retailers an opportunity to increase their visibility with this customer segment.
Plus-size fashion brand Torrid recently collaborated with actress Rebel Wilson for an exclusive holiday capsule collection, Rebel for Torrid. The limited edition line launched in November 2015 in Torrid stores across the U.S. and its website and featured 25 pieces including tops, bottoms, jackets, dresses and accessories. A spring 2016 collection is in the works.
Actress Melissa McCarthy also launched a new plus-size collection in collaboration with denim brand Seven7. McCarthy's line hit stores in September and is now available at retailer Lane Bryant, on the Home Shopping Network and at Macy's. The line includes dresses, tailored separates and denim.
Target rolled out its Ava & Viv plus-size line as well, which features styling and input from fashion bloggers Gabi Gregg, Chastity Garner-Valentine and Nicolette Mason. The inaugural collection launched in Q1 2015 with a 90-piece collection in sizes up to 26 and 4X.
And finally, more recently, Touch by Alyssa Milano, a sports-licensed apparel brand for women, announced that it will debut a plus-size line this fall.
The MAGIC show should be the source of plenty of action in this segment of the market.
Camuto Group will kick off some new partnerships for the spring season with a host of licensed deals including a partnership with talk show host and TV personality Ellen DeGeneres' for her new lifestyle collection, ED. ED footwear is a mix of casual and athletic styles made of leather, suede, natural linen, canvas and denim in neutrals, whites and shades of blue with pops of red. The line will be available at better department stores and specialty boutiques.
Camuto Group will also debut a footwear line with premium British fashion house AllSaints, with the first collection arriving in AllSaints stores worldwide this spring.
In other footwear news, LJP International recently signed a licensing deal to produce and distribute boys' shoes under the Ben Sherman label. Styles will include sneakers, oxfords, boots, chukkas and moccasins that incorporate the styling and details of Ben Sherman's British roots.
LJP International has also signed with brand management company Bluestar Alliance to become the footwear licensee for the Limited Too brand. (The tween retail brand was purchased by Bluestar Alliance in July 2015 following the retailer's closure of its brick-and-mortar locations in 2008.) LJP will develop an expansive girls' collection for launch at retail this fall.
Beachwear and Beyond
Island lifestyle and leisure brand Tommy Bahama recently signed a licensing agreement with NOXS to design and produce men's and women's outerwear. The collection of high performance outerwear is set for a fall launch and will incorporate a mixture of technical fabrics, waxed textures, pigment dies and intricate detailing. Silhouettes will include parkas, puffers, trench coats, wool car coats and pea coats. The collection will be sold in North America at better department stores and at select independent retailers.
The brand also has a new collection with the Amerex Group for a swimwear range timed to resort 2016. The new Tommy Bahama children's collection will include prints and pattern mixing derived from the spirit of Tommy Bahama, such as vintage tropical motifs and botanicals to geometrics and whimsical pineapple prints. The new collection will be available for girls in infant and toddler through youth sizes and for boys.
Intimate apparel company Felina has partnered with Dreamwave, a division of The Bentex Group, to manufacture swimwear for three bands under its banner–Felina, its classic line; Jezebel, its trendy line; and Paramour, its contemporary, plus-size line. Felina owner Robert Zarabi called Dreamwave "the perfect partner" for the deal.
"They understand our customer and the retail environment and are able to produce quality merchandise at competitive price points," he says.
The deal was brokered by The Brand Liaison, the exclusive licensing agency for Felina brands. The Brand Liaison, on behalf of Felina, is currently seeking other licensing deals in categories such as hosiery, socks, slippers, activewear, fragrance and personal care.
Evergreen Franchises are Going Strong
Once brands reach evergreen status, manufacturers and retailers can typically be assured they will have a hit with licensed merchandise.
The BBC's sci-fi franchise "Doctor Who" has become one of those long-term performers.
"'Doctor Who' has become one of the most sought-after merchandising brands in the U.S., and the show continues to draw big ratings on BBC America," says Carla Peyton, senior vice president, licensing, BBC Worldwide North America.
New opportunities for the evergreen brand will be available at MAGIC.
Also for the series, Hot Topic has recently unveiled a new, limited edition fashion collection. The nine-piece collection is now available exclusively at select Hot Topic stores and via its website and features dresses, knits and outerwear inspired by popular characters and iconic items from the world of "Doctor Who." Each piece features distinctive details such as Sonic Screwdriver and TARDIS prints, embroidered gears, pinstripes and bow ties. In addition to the fashion collection, Hot Topic will offer a wide range of "Doctor Who" officially licensed merchandise for men and women including t-shirts, accessories, gifts and more.
This past fall, digital scarf retailer Lovarzi (in partnership with BBC Worldwide) added four new products to its "Doctor Who" line in the U.K., including the company's first foray into designs inspired by the new revival of the TV series. Among the new offerings are a The Pandorica Opens scarf, a Seventh Doctor hanky, a Fourth Doctor shorter scarf and a Fourth Doctor knitted tie.
Now in its 27th season, "The Simpsons" is the longest running TV series of all time and the property boasts 150 million viewers globally each week. Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products has signed multiple deals for the evergreen franchise.
Under the fashion category, several new partnerships have been established including the launch of a capsule collection with Neff, available around the world; a Hype clothing line; and a boys' apparel line that debuted at U.K. retailer Sainsbury's this year.
Also in the U.K., Fox partnered for a girlswear range with retailer George at Asda, a line of day and nightwear for teen girls with retailer Primark and a womenswear collection at fashion retailer Zara. A second capsule collection of accessories from Skinnydip featuring the fan-favorite character Krusty the Clown also debuted this fall at the Skinnydip store off London's Carnaby Street, Topshop retail locations worldwide, Selfridges, Asos, Skinnydip London Gatwick Airport and on the Skinnydip website.
Fox says they are committed to pushing boundaries even further for "The Simpsons" and will be working closely with new and existing partners to continue offering fans fresh, contemporary and innovative product lines.
Sanrio sealed several new licenses for the perennial Hello Kitty brand as well as other Sanrio characters. A new collection of Hello Kitty junior's sportswear from licensee The Classic Brand launched this past year; while in the junior's sector, licensee Vinca will work with Sanrio to create laser-cut jewelry including bangles, earrings, necklaces and rings featuring characters Hello Kitty, Little Twin Stars, My Melody, Badtz-Maru and Chococat.
Those characters and the Keroppi character will also be featured on kids' and adult fashion caps from Brick Brick and will include Brick Brick's signature interchangeable front plate customization feature.
Retailers and manufacturers should find the latest in fashion licensing for the next few seasons at this month's MAGIC show. They will also be using the show as an opportunity to connect with partners on the licensing deals that will shape fashion for many seasons to come.
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