Southpole's licensing machine might not be the biggest engine in the 'hood, but it's a key revenue driver because the brand's partners have remained true to its aesthetic, even as it has evolved over time.
With eight licenses currently in operation, Southpole executives continue to scout for more opportunities, according to Jean Luc Rim, director of licensing, but he acknowledged that connecting with the right licensee can be difficult in these turbulent economic times.
That's because licensing agreements require certain minimum guarantees, and given the concerns over consumer spending, companies are less willing to make those commitments, he explained.
"We want partners who are capable of developing the business and pushing the category, rather than riding our coattails," Rim said.
About 10 percent of Southpole's wholesale volume is generated through licensing, he said.
Concept One Accessories, founded in 1999 by brothers Sam and Bernie Hafif, produces headwear and cold-weather items for young men and boys under the Southpole brand. Concept One holds more than 60 licenses for such brands as Batman, Budweiser, Disney, Ecko Unltd., Enyce, Levi's Red Tab, Rocawear, Sean John and Zoo York.
Sam Hafif, chief executive officer, said, "What's really genius about Southpole and the Khym family is that they went after what was at the time the hottest segment of the apparel market — streetwear — but at a [value] price point. While most brands such as Rocawear, Phat Farm and Sean Jean focused on the upper-tier distribution, the Khyms went after the midtier, but they did it without taking anything out of the product."
Hafif explained that the product still featured embellishments that in some ways were "better than that found in the top-tier products." He said Southpole is a big performer at J.C. Penney and Sears.
"This is still a very aspirational brand for [some] kids to buy," Hafif said.
Over the years, the licensed product for headwear and cold-weather items has changed as the Southpole brand has evolved.
"When we signed the license, the brand was big on the oversize T with big graphics, so we had the big baseball cap. The product line has evolved from Ts to woven tops, and for [hats] we now have more fedoras and bombers. The headwear has evolved into fashion pieces. We work very closely with their product development team from a color, graphic and fabrics perspective," Hafif said.
Besides midtier stores like Penney's and Sears, the brand is also sold at independent specialty retailers, like Dr. Jays.
"Even after 20 years, this is still a great brand. It has stood the test of time, whereas others have come and gone," Hafif concluded.
Eyewear is licensed to Colors in Optics Ltd. Founded in 1978, the firm is known for its use of vibrant colors in its frames, especially cherry red, cobalt blue and violet.
The Southpole Sun Collection for men and women features embellishments in rhinestones, a prominent Southpole logo placement and intricate detail work. The collection is sold in department stores and specialty retailers.
Rhona Hutton, vice president and head of design for the eyewear maker, said, "The Southpole customer loves identification. They like bling and they like color."
The collections — one eachfor men and women — feature 24 pairs of sunglasses and coordinate with the Southpole color scheme and theme for each season.
"Southpole is different from the other brands that we have. This is a fun brand that has taken off," Hutton said.
The brand's biggest (and longest-running) licensed category is in footwear, which is produced by Vida Shoes International Inc. and covers young men's, juniors and kids'.
Southpole is searching for a new licensee for junior intimates. Because it never has had a deal for young men's and boys' underwear, it could either enter a licensing agreement just for junior innerwear or sign on with a manufacturer that can also produce underwear for young men and boys, Rim said.
The company also recently ended its handbag license for the junior category, although it is in discussions with a potential new licensee.
In hosiery, Berkshire Hosiery had held the license for juniors, but that has now been expanded to include young men's and kids' as well, said Rim.
Other categories are leather accessories, including small leather goods like wallets and belts with RGA Leatherworks, and infants' and toddlers' are manufactured by Adjmi Apparel Group.
The brand's apparel is sold in Europe through Jungbold & Moreno-Stolz Distribution, in specialty stores in Germany, the U.K., France and Spain, according to Rim. JMSD markets the regular line and the basic athletic program under the SP Pure Collection moniker.
The company also has had a distribution license with Wise Harvest since 2003 to market apparel and accessories throughout Japan, and Rim said the company is also eyeing expansion in Latin America.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye