Licensing Is Always In Fashion

MAGIC, the preeminent apparel trade show, has expanded over the years to include several events. There’s the Las Vegas event that happened over Valentine’s Day, the New York event from February 27th through March 1st, and a Nashville event happening from May 16 – 17 at Music City Center.

Licensing and fashion have always gone hand-in-hand. Early on, high fashion houses simply licensed their lines to retailers.

The Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams museum exhibit that is touring the world, recently finishing a stint at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, even had a section called “Customers and Licensees” that showed typed-written customer lists for the famed designer.

It was French designer Pierre Cardin that really took licensing and fashion to a whole new level. As Fortune stated in his obituary, A licensing maverick, Cardin’s name went on thousands of products and in the brand’s heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, while goods bearing his fancy cursive signature were sold at some 100,000 outlets worldwide.”

Authentic Brands Group claimed the #3 position on Top Global Licensors for 2021 with over $13 billion in retail sales for 2020. ABG’s fashion brands include luxe fashion brands Brooks Brothers, Judith Leiber, and Herve Leger.

According to McKinsey & Co., sales of luxury goods could grow as much as 25% next year compared with 2019. Apparel is a big part of that growth especially as people have become accustomed to shopping for luxury online.

Apparel and footwear online sales increased to 35% – 40% in 2020 from 25% in 2019, according to a Wells Fargo report. Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow expects e-commerce to represent more than 30% of sales—or $140 billion—within the next five to 10 years.

Luxury apparel brands like Chanel have even been active with startup collaborations. In 2018, Chanel invested in Farfetch, an online luxury fashion retailer, to augment its boutiques.

Apparel has always been a leading moneymaker for licensors and licensees.

According to the latest numbers from Licensing International, “Global sales revenue generated by licensed merchandise and services grew to $292.8 billion in 2019, a 4.5 percent increase over the $280.3 billion generated in 2018…Fashion was the third largest licensed property type at $33.8B with an 11.5 percent share, with sales having risen 4.8 percent over the previous year.”

Apparel was the top category for licensed merchandise with 15.1% in Licensing International’s breakdown.

New apparel deals are announced almost daily.

Just in the past few weeks, Strawberry Shortcake signed a new apparel license with Unique Vintage, PUMA, and L.O.L. Surprise! have released another apparel and footwear collection, NASCAR and FaZe Clan are teaming up for a clothing collection for the season-opening Busch Light Clash, while Oreo and Champion launch a limited-edition fashion collection.

Fashion brands are even finding new ways to share and extend their apparel reach. Ralph Lauren recently showcased their clothing line in the metaverse, creating a digital clothing collection for Roblox avatars. OshKosh has become the first apparel sponsor for TIME/Nickelodeon Kid of the Year.

And well-known brands are becoming fashion brands. Last year, Ferrari, known for its high-end luxury cars, launched its first full fashion collection by Rocco Iannone who worked at major fashion houses Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. SpongeBob SquarePants recently got an haute couture makeover.

Fashion is the outward expression of what matters to us. Miuccia Prada said, “What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.”

And with connections, both in-person and virtual, becoming even more instantaneous, brands of all kinds have become fashion and apparel staples.

And that’s the true MAGIC.


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