November 1, 2022
Diversity in branding can have many different meanings. From broader age groups, ethnicities, body types and more, diversity is important for several reasons and applies to almost every category of merchandising out there.
Ensuring authentic diverse voices and representation is a growing focus for the brand licensing industry, especially within the retail and fashion industries. With the rise of social media and consumer feedback, many consumers have taken to the internet to offer their support to brands that are jumping into the diversity and inclusion conversations. But how can these companies take this feedback and really implement necessary changes into their strategies?
I had the pleasure of chatting with Dalila Shannon, divisional merchandise manager and head, diversity, Urban Outfitters, to discuss what insights attendees can look forward to hearing about during our joint session with Cory Moss, chief executive officer, CLC, “Diversity & Inclusion: Walking the Talk” at Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit, which will discuss how brands can work these diversity conversations into tangible results.
Anna Knight: Tell us about yourself. We’d love to hear about you and your company’s role in the licensing industry.
Dalila Shannon: I am the divisional merchandise manager over branded collaborations at Urban Outfitters. I also serve as the head of diversity, equity and inclusion for UO. With the diverse and expressive customer that UO has, our product assortment gains incredible value when partnering with licensee partners. I have worked closely with our partner, CLC, over the past two years to develop exclusive product for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through our URBN Summer Class initiative, and it has been an incredibly fruitful experience thus far.
How can the licensing and retail industries work together to jointly overcome these DEI challenges?
There is a large opportunity for retailers to make strides in the diversity and inclusion department. Consumers want to feel valued and recognized, and one of the ways to do this is through licensing partnerships. These two industries go hand in hand, and by expanding consumer bases through partnerships, naturally you are diversifying your merchandise and audience. UO’s partnership with CLC has done exactly that, and it is extremely rewarding to see the positive impact these partnerships can have on our consumers.
Could you share a brief preview of what will be discussed in your session?
I will be sharing learnings and insights that I’ve gained in working on the URBN Summer Class project with our licensee, CLC. URBN Summer Class is a 10-week internship and mentorship program for five HBCU students recognized for their academic excellence and creative prowess.
What trends are coming down the pipeline?
Trends that will be important next year are pants, skirts and dresses for women, and outdoor, utility and streetwear for men. Sneakers continue to be a huge opportunity across both categories. We are also growing a gender-expansive business, with apparel designed for all. There is also a good deal of opportunity in the non-apparel space, especially across home goods and décor.
What excites you about engaging and learning from your community in person at B&LIS this November?
I’m very excited to learn more about the world of licensing and how Urban Outfitters and other big box retailers can collaborate to create amazing product.
B&LIS will be held in New York City at Convene New York Nov. 8-9. Register for a pass to attend at Brandlicensinginnovationsummit.com.
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