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How My Little Pony is winning in the kids licensing arena right now

One of my favourite and trickiest trade shows in the kidswear calendar is Brand Licensing Europe, held each autumn at Olympia London. The Kidswear team know the apparel trade shows inside-out, they offer a great opportunity to hunt out new brands, say hi to existing ones and get a grip on and report on trends for the upcoming season. Licensing trade shows however, are a far more complex beast. These specific trade shows are larger than life in every way, with Minions, Scooby-Doo and Angry Birds parading around, as grown adults queue for selfies (yes, you read that right). Here global entertainment giants be it Nickelodeon, Sony or Hasbro and more come to announce fresh film releases and licensing opportunities to complement their brands or new properties.

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The elevation of youth culture to catwalk status has fuelled the flames of the licensing machine even further with many key characters looking to capitalise on their provenance and legacy for some cross-generational appeal. A current example of this must be Hasbro’s My Little Pony, the muse of both my 6-year-old and fashion designer Manish Arora who used Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie as inspiration for his S/S17 collection recently in Paris.

As Katherine Buckland, Senior Licensing Director of Hasbro Europe describes: “Through extensive consumer insights and research, Hasbro’s brands create fully connected universes which span digital, entertainment, consumer products and toy offerings. Our brands are centered around dynamic and emotionally rich stories and multi-faceted characters, which provide an incredible platform to expand our franchises and further engage consumers of all ages. Fashion, for example, enables us to incorporate the rich nostalgia of our brands, while reimagining them through new design and creative techniques. With our focus on leading design trends, we are able to connect with consumers who love the depth of our brands, as well as those who are seeking out a great design.”

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With many retailers considering licensed products as money in the till, it’s hardly surprising that this year’s event at Olympia was bigger and busier than ever. The announcement that the show’s organisers UBM, and the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) are partnering up to bring similar Licensing and Brand Extension shows to both Tokyo & Shanghai in 2017. With this in mind, alongside the recent announcement of Dalian Wanda Groups partnership with SonyPictures Entertainment, it’s increasingly likely that iconic brands from multiple regions will move onto an increasingly global platform encouraging cross-cultural familiarity and ultimately invite new opportunities for merchandise and increased market share.

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For more in-depth analysis on the Brand Licensing Europe Trade Show, kidswear trends and more, join WGSN.

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