The Retail Beat

These 10 recent and upcoming fashion collections at major retailers exemplify the popularity of licensed merchandise. 

Juicy Couture Makes a Comeback

Authentic Brands Group has unveiled plans for a reboot of its newly acquired Juicy Couture brand, and those plans center on retail.

The Juicy brand shot to fame in the early 2000s, popularizing velour track suits and pushing a rhinestone-encrusted aesthetic that consumers adored, but the label has since stagnated. Now, ABG is planning a holistic refresh to revitalize and re-introduce the American brand among its core customers.

Beginning in 2015, a series of all-new Juicy Couture concept stores will be opened in the U.S. and Canada in high-traffic locations such as New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver. The new stores will replace existing U.S. Juicy stores, all of which will have been phased out by the end of this summer. ABG hasn't yet revealed what the new concept stores will look like, except to say that they will "encompass the world of Juicy."

ABG also plans to expand on Juicy's nearly 200 international retail locations via its partners Follie Follie Group in Europe, MAF in the Middle East and the newly appointed ImagineX Group in China.

"Authentic Brands Group is committed to driving a comprehensive, multi-dimensional strategy to expand Juicy Couture across our international markets and to re-energize the brand in the U.S. and Canada," says Jamie Salter, chairman and chief executive officer, ABG. "The Juicy Couture brand is recognized for bringing Los Angeles style and attitude to girls all over the world. Our plans are designed to build on the brand's DNA in a powerful way in all our markets."

A number of upcoming licensed extensions will also give the brand a boost including a new partnership with Steve Madden for women's footwear set to launch in spring 2015, and an expansion of the Juicy Couture Black Label collection into fragrance (Elizabeth Arden), watches (Movado), eyewear (Safilo) and swimwear (Swimwear Anywhere).

William Rast Rocks With Lord & Taylor

Another apparel brand getting a retail refresh is Sequential Brands Group's William Rast.

Created in 2005 by singer Justin Timberlake and his friend Trace Ayala, the denim brand is inspired by biker culture and American heritage.

The brand had a prominent position at J.C. Penney through a licensing agreement inked in 2011, but the exclusive deal was cut short (ending 18 months early) in 2013 following an executive shake-up at the struggling retailer.

Now brand owner Sequential is ready to bring the label back to the U.S. in a big way, this time at Lord & Taylor.

Debuting this month, the fashion brand will be showcased in in-store concept shops that will include men's and women's sportswear, outerwear and denim. At the same time William Rast will introduce a new men's tailored collection developed in partnership with Peerless Clothing.

The U.S. launch follows rollouts in Canada last fall at The Bay and in Europe this spring.

"We are thrilled with the early success we have seen on the global rollout of William Rast," says Yehuda Shmidman, chief executive officer, Sequential Brands Group. "With a strong team in place and strengthened commitment from the brand's co-founders and our global retail partners including Lord & Taylor, William Rast is well positioned for continued future growth."

Sears Stays Young With Seventeen

After 70 years on newsstands, Seventeen magazine has made its debut at retail. Hearst Brand Development launched the publishing brand's first-ever fashion line at Sears July 15.

Produced by Adjmi Apparel Group, the collection features 83 SKUs including footwear, leggings, vests, jackets, dresses, cardigans, blouses, handbags and jewelry.

Designed to align with the personalities of the magazine's readers, the collection features a mix of trend pieces and everyday staples.

"As we continue to transform the Sears apparel business, we are working to create deeper, exclusive brand relationships that both engage our members and increase the level of fashion across multiple channels," says Sheila Field, chief marketing officer, Sears Apparel. "By combining the influence and fashion credentials of Seventeen magazine with the broad reach and integrated retail leadership of Sears, we can bring the teen shopper the styles she wants with the enhanced shopping experience she has come to expect."

Chupa Chups Sweetens H&M

Over the last few years, Perfetti Van Melle's confectionary brand Chupa Chups has established itself as a bona fide licensing success.

The lollipop brand (the logo for which was designed by Salvador Dalí) has had recent extensions into the stationery, health and beauty, gaming and publishing categories, and now it's headed to the fashion world with H&M.

The retailer is planning a line of "quirky" apparel and accessories inspired by the candy for kids and teens that will hit shelves worldwide by the end of the year.

The H&M collaboration follows on a deal with Uniqlo in late 2013 for girls' tees and hoodies.

"H&M and Chupa Chups are both truly international brands," says Christine Cool, senior brand manager, licensing division, Chupa Chups. "We feel that they are a great match to develop an original fashion style that will no doubt appeal to all sweets and fashion lovers."

Fifth Harmony Kicks off at Wet Seal

Sony Music Entertainment is ready to make some noise with the girl band Fifth Harmony (formed on the second season of "X-Factor").

In addition to a planned line of Barbie dolls from Mattel, the brand's merchandising program will kick off this summer and fall with an apparel line at Wet Seal. "Wet Seal will carry a Fifth Harmony collection curated by Ally, Dinah, Lauren, Normani and Camila of Fifth Harmony," says Mathew Vlasic, vice president, SME. "The collection will consist of three styles based on each girl's personal fashion sense, as well as graphic tees, jewelry and accessories."

After finishing third on the music competition, the band has gone on to release three EPs and is nominated in five categories, including Choice Music Group and Choice Break-Up Song, at this month's Teen Choice Awards.

A second Wet Seal collection that will include denim and wovens is already in the works. Canadian-based apparel licensee JCorp, headed by co-CEOs Jonathan and Marvin Gurman, will produce the fashion collection.

Eric Carle Crawls Into Gymboree

One of the most enduring children's brands–Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar–is headed to specialty retailer Gymboree this fall.

In a deal brokered by The Joester Loria Group, more than 600 Gymboree stores will be home to The World of Eric Carle-branded playwear and sleepwear for toddlers this September. The collection will feature imagery from The Very Hungry Caterpillar as well as other Carle characters and graphics. An infant collection will follow in spring 2015.

"The collaboration of Gymboree and Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar will bring Eric's bright artwork and beloved characters off the pages onto beautifully designed, high-quality apparel and sleepwear that is sure to delight infants and toddlers," says Debra Joester, chief executive officer, JLG.

Gymboree will also offer World of Eric Carle plush and books to accompany the apparel line.

Popeye Flexes Style at Uniqlo

He first appeared in a comic strip 85 years ago, but Popeye the Sailor Man's star shows no sign of fading, if his presence at retail is any indicator. (All that spinach must be working its magic.)

In the latest collaboration for the King Features character and his sweetheart Olive Oyl, Uniqlo has launched a collection of men's and women's graphic t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies under its UT label. The collection combines the classic characters with an American pop culture theme.

"Popeye and Olive Oyl are truly global icons, so the beloved characters are well-suited to partner with a global brand like Uniqlo," says Cathleen Titus, vice president of international licensing, King Features.

Popeye also starred in a t-shirt collection at Urban Outfitters in the U.K. earlier this year.

Bethany Mota Stars at Aeropostale

18-year-old social media star Bethany Mota has established herself as a power player in the social media world over the last four years and currently boasts close to 7 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, which centers on her shopping trips to teen-friendly retailers.

Now the YouTube star has her own line at one of those retailers.

The Bethany Mota collection launched at Aeropostale Dec. 8 and will see continued releases throughout the year. The apparel, accessories and jewelry are all designed by Mota to reflect her style and that of her fans.

"We are thrilled to partner with Bethany on her first-ever design collection," says Emilia Fabricant, executive vice president, Aeropostale. "She has a keen eye for fashion, is a social media phenomenon and is a wonderful role model. She connects with the teen girl and has been an Aeropostale customer herself for years. With that in mind, she is a natural fit for the brand."

Also of note–Mota's ever-growing online fan base (1.7 million on Twitter and 3.3 million on Instagram, in addition to her YouTube channel) provides a built-in marketing platform among Aeropostale's target demographic.

ABC's 'Scandal' Hits The Limited

The Limited is planning its first-ever Hollywood collaboration featuring the ABC political drama "Scandal" and set to debut this fall.

The line is inspired by lead character Olivia Pope, a high-powered Washington,D.C. fixer whose clothes and styling have drawn acclaim since the show premiered in 2012. The range is being designed by actress Kerry Washington (who plays Pope on the series) alongside the show's costume designer Lyn Paolo and The Limited's head of design, Elliot Staples.

"Our collection evokes the striking and aspirational style that has become synonymous with the Scandal brand and its heroine Olivia Pope," says Staples. "Bringing a quintessential neutral palette together with soft feminine color, the collection is outfit-driven while remaining easy to mix and match–creating effortlessly modern and powerful looks."

The range will include tops, pants, jackets and outerwear.

"The collection is a nod to our devoted fans, to fans of fashion and to women everywhere who are inspired to boldly pursue their passions and look good while doing it," says Washington.

Pepsi Pops with Bloomingdale's, Collette and Liberty

In May, Pepsi debuted its first-ever global fashion capsule collection, Live for Now, at Bloomingdale's in the U.S., Colette in Paris and Liberty in London.

Designed to enliven the beverage brand's 2014 football promotions, the streetwear line features soccer-inspired artwork by six street artists from around the world as part of the beverage brand's The Art of Football campaign.

"We were inspired by the link between the sport of football and the world of art–both places where passion leads to great acts of creativity," says Kristin Patrick, global chief marketing officer, Pepsi, PepsiCo Global Beverages Group. "Our first-of-its-kind art collection, The Art of Football, was unveiled in a gallery, then spread across the streets of the world with our out-of-home campaign and now as a collection that a young, style-savvy generation will covet. Pepsi has been a cultural icon for many years, and now we are celebrating the ability of our brand to find a new place in consumers' hearts and minds. The Pepsi Live for Now collection is both wearable and enviable, combining the best design with the joy of living in the now."

Original Penguin by Munsingwear, Gents and Goodlife served as apparel licensees for the line, with Del Toro producing footwear and accessories.

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