From Gucci to Supreme: Fashion Brands Are Tapping into Disney’s $60 Billion Merch Machine


January 7, 2020 – The Fashion Law – Disney is not just for kids. That seemed to be a clear takeaway when Gucci sent a $4,500 plastic purse in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head down the runway at Le Palace in Paris as part of its Spring/Summer 2019 collection. As it turns out, the appearance of one of Disney’s most well-known characters in the Italian fashion brand’s collection – alongside spandex-y leotards, hot pants, and pink sequined trousers for its gender-bending men and wildly-colored feathered frocks and leather skirt suits for the Gucci girls – coincided with the 90th birthday of Disney’s Mickey Mouse in 2018.

More than merely a tribute to the nearly 100-year old character that kick-started the nearly $200 billion empire that is Disney, Gucci’s ode to Mickey Mouse, which has since been followed up by another, recently-announced tie-up between the two companies (this time to coincide with the Chinese New Year) was a show of the multinational entertainment giant’s multi-faceted quest to appeal to individuals of all nearly ages and spending brackets.

Disney’s ability to reach a wide pool of consumers goes beyond the immediate attraction of its parks and resorts, and the films and other media it offers. It caters to everyone from Frozen-loving children to luxury goods-seeking millennials and Gen-Xers, in part, thanks to its arsenal of licensed goods, the third-party products that bear the names and/or images of the assets that fall under its umbrella, whether that be franchise titles, film names, or pictures of the characters, themselves.

These goods – which serve as a noteworthy driver of some of the Walt Disney Company’s annual revenues of almost $70 billion – are born from licensing deals that see Disney trade off the right to use its intellectual property (generally) in exchange for a lump sum and royalty payments based on sales of those licensed goods. And the sales are high. Disney’s licensed products are such a draw amongst consumers that they generated nearly $60 billion in retail sales in 2018, making Disney the largest licensor in by sales volume in the $270 billion-plus global retail licensing market.

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