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License to Sell

Characters, bands, sports teams and fashion labels rule the licensed apparel world.
Licensed apparel has always fascinated me, and this month, we delved deeper into …

Characters, bands, sports teams and fashion labels rule the licensed apparel world.

Licensed apparel has always fascinated me, and this month, we delved deeper into this burgeoning segment of the children’s market. It’s clear that the licensing world is enormous, and brand building is at the forefront as licensed entertainment properties proliferate in the digital space. Whether a license gains appeal through a TV program, book series, movie or gaming app, it seems as if children’s appetites for new characters have never been so strong or so diverse. This creates great opportunities for brand-builders who can reach into a multitude of channels to drive sales and make efficient supply chains to support product lines á la NBC Universal’s breakout hit, Fashion Star.

For our June licensing issue, we uncover opportunities specialty retailers can cash in on, including incorporating licensed properties that are in line with a store’s boutique nature and product mix. With a greater array of licenses creating boutique-appropriate goods, retailers can home in on those that best fit their clientele’s affinities. One property that’s ostensibly universal is Hello Kitty. We got to sit down with Sanrio’s new chief operating officer, Janet Hsu, and discuss the phenomenon that is Hello Kitty and its recent entrance into the infant/toddler market. The feline, which was born out of a contest during an economic downturn in the ’70s, has grown into a $5-billion powerhouse, targeting every demographic through products hitting high, low and mid-market. But that cat isn’t the only game in town. Our trend pages focus on the unstoppable Disney empire (No. 1 in retail revenues among license holders at $37.5 billion), team sports goods and character-driven children’s books. We also cast our spotlight on activewear company Limeapple, as well as nostalgic retro brand, KangaRoos, a footwear property that has been given a makeover by shoe hotshots Shawn and Shane Ward.

For our striking fashion story—“We Are One”—we move beyond character licensing and celebrate designer brands that have expanded their range through contracts with licensees entrusted to articulate their brand values and attributes. From DKNY and Junior Gaultier to Levi’s and Timberland, licensees like Haddad and Parigi Group are designing looks that are suitable for any kid with a penchant for preppy.

The global undertone of our fashion story also mimics the increasing globalization of the licensed apparel market and the rest of the industry to boot. As trade becomes more fluid and opportunities arise for retailers and manufacturers, we want to consider the similarities and differences between us in readying our businesses for the global landscape.

Enjoy,
Jennifer Cattaui
Editor in Chief, Earnshaw’s

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