The Magic International apparel show in Las Vegas last month saw its Magic Kids marketplace overflow with close to 980 exhibitors. Among the latest in licensed and non-licensed togs and accessories for babies to teens, Teletubbies, Barbie and Star Wars were the hot licenses on display.
Some exhibitors were actively seeking entertainment tie-ins, hoping to replicate the bottom-line impact that hit show licenses earn. Licensees-like Jeffrey Fisher at Pyramid Accessories, who unveiled a backpack line for Dawson’s Creek, and A Wish Come True’s Laurie Miller, who displayed a Barbie dress-up line-raved about the recognition these brand names have brought their lines. Another kids brand present was Arthur, whose non-product-oriented booth held no samples, but was a replica of Arthur’s house. According to Arthur creator Mark Brown’s son Tolon, who manned the booth, the company was present to extend brand awareness in the kids apparel industry.
An emerging trend in the girl’s arena was machine-washable dress-up lines such as Miller’s, and Mary Lewis’s non-licensed Small Miracles line at Learning Curve, which includes glittering jewelry and feather boa accessories. Lewis has been approached by many entertainment entities wanting to license her costume-wear, but has waited for a tie-in fit that won’t limit the ‘broad play pattern’ of her line. The costumes are distributed by stores ranging from high-end retailers such as Nordstroms, to mass chains like Target. Lewis helps retailers plan in-store ‘dress-up days’ around her line-an added attraction due to the heavy event focus at retail this year.
Teen trend-setting was all the rage at WWDMagic, the junior’s and women’s component of Magic. Garnering a lot of buzz was Harvey Entertainment’s Hot Stuff booth, featuring the company’s first non-entertainment-based fashion brand, targeting teen girls ages 13 to 18 and tweens from seven to 14. At the show were samples of the lingerie-like line, which incorporates the Hot Stuff laughing devil character with a Geraldine Jones-esque tagline, ‘the devil made me do it.’
According to Charles Day, senior VP of consumer products at Harvey, the idea for the line originated in 1996 when he saw the Hot Stuff comic title on a list of Harvey’s intellectual properties. Designed with attitude, Harvey will not look for retail partners for Hot Stuff at mass or mid-tier retailers, but will specifically hone in on junior fashion and accessory retailers like Urban Outfitters.
The organizers of Magic International will be sponsoring an apparel brands area at Licensing 99 in June, an appropriate inclusion given that the apparel category generates about US$130 billion in worldwide licensing business each year.