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Marketing Key for Iconix Brands

Building brands through marketing is crucial, and is the foundation for Iconix Brand Group, the new owners of four iconic home furnishings brands.

"And we see home furnishings and international — especially China — as wonderful opportunities," said Neil Cole, ceo of Iconix.

The company, which acquired the Fieldcrest, Cannon, Royal Velvet and Charisma brands from Official Pillowtex last year, sees marketing as the key to revitalizing and growing these brands, said Cole, a long-time fashion industry principal. "We really don't believe there is much difference between ready-to-wear and home furnishings," Cole told HTT.

Iconix, in its nearly five-year lifespan, has acquired some 17 brands including Candie's, which was part of Cole's early days working with his family's footwear business. He then owned and later sold another shoe business, and developed marketing strategies for the business.

"Four or five years ago, we developed the brand management model using third parties to manufacture the product," he explained. "We're big believers in marketing elements — print, celebrities as well as new marketing approaches to focus on the consumer."

Looking at the four brands in home furnishings, Cole said, "The Pillowtex opportunity came along and there were four iconic brands. You'll see exciting things from us in time, for these brands."

Cole talked through his appraisal of each of the four: "Ten years ago, Cannon was a great towel brand. And for the future, it has to be the right product. The consumer is very smart, and brand is only one element."

As for Fieldcrest, Cole observed, "It's a luxury component at Target," which has it exclusively. And while there was no formal announcement, the Royal Velvet brand is rolling out in bed and bath at Bed Bath & Beyond. "It's a quality product, and consumers don't know it was down," he remarked.

Charisma, the top of the line in the package, "is a great product. There's so much opportunity to expand in more doors, and we're working with WestPoint Home (the licensee) to expand more product and more doors," Cole noted.

In the fall, there will be major activities in marketing for each of these brands, he said.

In other brands in the company portfolio, Joe Boxer is at Sears "and we're talking with them about a relaunch. We see a good opportunity." The brands Badgley Mischka, a premium fashion brand, and London Fog, an outerwear icon, both owned by Iconix, also are seen as potential licenses for the home, Cole said.

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