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Licensing Show Offers Up Opportunities for Textiles

Jill Rowen -- Home Textiles Today, June 1, 2009

Cartoon characters, celebrity names and global brands of almost every kind are on the offering block this week during the Licensing International Expo 2009, an annual event which has moved to a new venue outside New York City for the first time this year.

Scheduled from June 2 to 4, this year's show is calling the West Coast home, selecting the Mandalay Bay Convention Center here as its setting.

Licensing remains a strong business for home textiles, and this year's exhibitors are reporting a relatively optimistic mood and new opportunities for deals in the home area.

"People are pretty optimistic — they're waiting, hoping and will be watching," said Eric Kuskey, president, Creative Brands Group. He does see manufacturers being more cautious and limiting themselves to a smaller, stronger, roster of brands.

"You've got to make sure the brands you have are right for your consumers," agreed Marsha Armitage-Bristow, evp licensing, The Dimensional Branding Group.

The move to Las Vegas poses mixed blessings for the event, according to Debra Joester, president, Joester Loris Group.

"I think we'll get a lot of West Coast retailers that maybe would not have made the trip to New York, but might miss out on some of the visits from New York-based marketing companies," she said. "Overall, we've got a lot of retailer meetings, and everyone is looking ahead to 2010."

Here is a sampling of some licenses on the lookout for home textiles deals:

  • Animal Planet — The brand is making inroads into kid's bedding, with infant categories coming next.

  • Baby Genius — The educational entertainment brand got a boost from visible merchandising at Wal-Mart and Target, making it viable for licensing expansion. Bedding in kids and infants is next.

  • Big Wheel — Represented by The Dimensional Branding Group, this retro toy is back in the pop culture consciousness and its recognizable design is about to expand into kid's bedding.

  • Discovery Expedition — A brand from Discovery Communications, which makes up Discovery Channel, Animal Plant and others, Discovery Expedition is an adult brand that promotes travel and outdoor adventure. High-performance materials are likely to be key products. The brand is expanding into throws, bedding and home décor.

  • HGTV — Beanstalk Group is working on a comprehensive home and garden licensing initiative for the brand for 2010. The potential categories include wall coverings, window treatments and mattresses.

  • Heidi Klum — The model and TV host's brand will branch out into kitchen, bed and bath products, according to The Creative Brands Group.

  • Jane Packer — Floral designer Packer has been a consultant to Westin Hotels and is positioning herself as a lifestyle brand. The Licensing Company expects to expand the brand into bedding

  • Jelly Belly — According to representative The Licensing Company, Jelly Belly's bright color palette and different shape adapt well to home textiles.

  • Loyal Army — Funky, fun and young is how Kuskey of Creative Brands Group describes this apparel brand, one its best performing. The label is hoping to take that success into textiles categories aimed at fashionable young adults.

  • Marsha D'Yans — Russian born artist Masha D'Yans is poised to expand further into bedding and textiles. Already in upscale retail settings, the brand is looking to the infant and children's categories.

  • Pepsi — A new logo and a large cache of artwork for the iconic brand is the starting point for new opportunities in home textiles across the board. New products would target a young, hip audience.

  • Sony PlayStation — Armitage-Bristow, of The Dimensional Branding Group, sees the brand and the proprietary games as lifestyle branding opportunities. The games especially, can have the impact of blockbuster movies, with even more exposure everyday in the home, she noted. Blankets, throws and other categories abound for both adult and children.

  • Super Why! — The literacy-focused program on PBS Kids will be introducing toddler bedding and kids' bedding as well as beach and bath products for 2010.

  • Susie Coelho — Home stylist and TV personality Coelho — who one time had an exclusive deal with Mervyn's — is looking for opportunities in all textiles categories. She is a staple as a go-to stylist on many news and interview programs.

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