MAGIC Moments

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Creating further synergy among exhibitors and ease and efficiency for visitors, the February edition of MAGIC International featured a re-merchandised show floor, thanks to an expanded Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). A high-energy, two-story venue-located at LVCC's South Hall-showcased the likes of streetwear, board sports, and young men's, as well as the trend-forward collections of the edge.

MAGIC Kids was paired with Licensing & Active/Sport to serve as a cohesive licensing section. Nestled on the show floor of this section was the first-ever LicensingCentral. A business hub for many licensing professionals, LicensingCentral was brought to the show floor by License! magazine, the Advanstar Global Licensing Group, and LIMA. Look for LicensingCentral at Licensing 2002 International in New York's Jacob Javits Center, June 11 to 13.

License! editors were on the show floor to report the latest licensing initiatives and potential extensions. Here, from our notepads.

Great Outdoors

It seems a natural for National Geographic, synonymous with outdoor travel, to extend its brand to include a collection of outdoor-oriented apparel for men and women. D.E. International, based in Trento, Italy, holds the exclusive worldwide license for the new line of men's and women's apparel. Highly technical and functional, the Adventure line is targeted to better department stores and features elements such as anti-mosquito and anti-microbic fabric treatments, which repel insects and fight bacteria. According to John Dumbacher, senior vice president of licensing for National Geographic, the apparel will be field-tested by National Geographic explorers.

A Vintage collection draws inspiration from National Geographic's historical photography archive. New York-based IMC Brand Management Limited, part of IMC Group Ltd., has exclusive responsibility to sell the apparel collection in the U.S., Northern Europe, and Scandinavia.

Jeep workwear/outerwear from Old Toledo Brands, New York, targeted to JCPenney and above, features authentic construction worker-friendly elements such as an adjustable hood to accommodate a hard hat, catch flaps to ensure safe machinery operations, and hidden pockets. Vests start at a suggested retail price of $65, some jackets at $135. Old Toledo also picked up Jeep boyswear in December 2001 from Vilenzo Int'l. (most recently dba Anywear Apparel), a Dutch firm that still has the rights for men's and kidswear in Europe. Old Toledo launched the men's business in the U.S. in August 2000.

With Americana on high, many American-based and -themed brands are reinforcing their marketing messages. Surf and California lifestyle brand Hang Ten's new creative ad campaign boasts the tagline, "Proud to be an American Original," and features a young couple on a road trip across America-ultimately reaching a surfing destination in California. Product highlights are from Hang Ten's spring/summer 2002 young men's and juniors' collection and include sportswear by Miami-based licensee Dynasty Apparel Industries, denim and structured bottoms by Knight Apparel Industries, and sunglasses by New York-based licensee Fantas-Eyes.

Op launched Seven2, inspired by the skate community. The denim-based collection is targeted at better department stores.

Fashion Flair

More than 100 new and retro Pierre Cardin designs sashayed down a runway at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. Held in conjunction with MAGIC, the show featured some of the designs that established Cardin's career alongside fashions from his new spring/ summer 2002 haute couture collection- a first for the designer in five years.

New York-based Revlon jumped into apparel, packaging color-rich tanks with matching lip and nail color. First shipments from Awake, the San Francisco-based licensee (a division of Jem Sportswear), are set for a limited run at the boutique and specialty tier for holiday '02, to be followed by a separate line developed for the mass market in first quarter 2003, pricing to be determined. The next category for the 70-year-old cosmetic brand might be intimate apparel. Other Revlon licensees include AAI/Foster Grant for jewelry and Helen of Troy for personal-care appliances.

New York-based Sugar D unveiled its licensed collection of women's sleepwear and intimate apparel featuring the likes of Jim Henson muppets Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, Fozzy, and Animal.

A new line of Barbie girls' fashions from Mamiye Sales in New York, dubbed Chantilly Lace Rodeo, partnered a pink, belted, long-length knit sweater with a white top draped on a Western-style denim skirt.

Teen Allure

In the wake of non-flattering comments from several character licensees comes good news about strides The Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. are taking to better reach the elusive teen customer. Disney has moved into vintage-look tops via its proprietary label Stage 28, produced by Irvine, CA-based firm nZania. Characters such as Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Tinkerbell appear as vintage images or as distressed decals on T-shirts and muscle shirts made expressly for chains including Hot Topic, Gadzooks, and Urban Outfitters.

But the "old school" looks aren't limited to the upstairs market-Target is conducting a test of youthful dyed tops printed with Disney-inspired vintage comic book panels. This "beat up look" line is dubbed Ink & Paint and produced jointly by Jem Sportswear and Jerry Leigh. Disney also is working intensely with young men's brand Ecko Unlimited for some upcoming, co-branded projects.

Studio by Southpole, based in Carlstadt, NJ, showed some new interpretations of not-so-ubiquitous Warner Bros.' characters such as Pussyfoot and Gossamer. Big distorted embellishments adorn most of the juniors' and young men's pieces.

Phat Farm, which moved to the designer area, debuted Baby Phat costume jewelry inspired by Kimora Lee Simmons from New York-based BB Mass. The goods sparkle with Austrian crystals and 14K plated gold. BB Mass also unveiled a couture line. Phat and Baby Phat seek swimwear, eyewear, and watch partners. A backpack partner may be announced shortly.

Childrenswear resource Happy Kids in New York unveiled infantwear, layette, and girls 7-16 apparel under license from funky womenswear designer Betsey Johnson. The line is targeted for a holiday debut at retailers such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's. The patterns are "authentic Betsey," says Maria Kosky, division president.

Happy Kids' other new kidswear licenses include: San Francisco-based Blue Marlin (for which it one day may make infantwear) and skate-rooted brand JNCO, which recently began shipping into mid-tier and some department stores.

Los Angeles-based JNCO is open to licensing for most categories such as young men's watches, eyewear, outerwear, leatherwear, activewear, sportswear, socks, and underwear, says Michael Mermey, partner with agency Strategic Initiatives Group, Westport, CT. Backpacks and other accessories are being produced by Pyramid Accessories, and footwear by ACI. JNCO will continue to produce young men's and juniors' jeans, T-shirts, and basic fleece.

Chicago-based Riddell, the official helmet of the NFL, was shopping the show, exploring opportunities to license its name for athletic-related softlines categories including activewear and fitnesswear, and some hardline components, such as athletic gear. Another sporty brand, boxing-rooted Everlast, seeks opportunities for swimwear, outerwear, windwear, nutritional supplements, sports drinks, and free weights.

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