Madonna, Iconix Form Fashion Joint Venture

Madonna and Iconix Brand Group Inc. to work on fashion ventures, including a juniors’ line called Material Girl, which will launch exclusively at Macy’s.

Madonna and Iconix Brand Group Inc. are ready to cause a commotion and dress you up at retail.

This story first appeared in the March 10, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The pop icon and the brand management firm will today reveal the formation of a joint venture called MG Icon LLC, which will bring multiple fashion-related projects to retail racks across America and around the world. The first initiatives under the agreement are a juniors’ line called Material Girl, which will launch exclusively at Macy’s in August. MG Icon is also close to announcing a collaboration with a designer label for a co-branded eyewear collection.

“Joining forces with Iconix to bring my fashion ideas to consumers is very exciting for me,” said Madonna.

WWD first reported on Feb. 16 that Madonna was in talks to launch the Material Girl collection with Iconix and Macy’s.

MG Icon will be 50 percent owned by Iconix and 50 percent by Madonna and Guy Oseary, her longtime manager and the “G” in the joint venture’s name. MG Icon will develop a range of fashion-related business projects, including the creation of new brands, the acquisition of existing labels and the exploration of opportunities within the portfolio of 21 brands that Iconix and its other joint ventures already own, said Neil Cole, chairman and chief executive officer of Iconix.

“I look forward to working closely with Neil and his team to create and translate my vision and ideas for MG Icon,” added Madonna.

Under terms of the joint venture, MG Icon will hold the right to use Madonna’s name and associated personality for apparel, footwear, accessories and other products. Madonna will also provide creative input and endorsement services in connection with the development and marketing of the venture’s brands and projects.

“Madonna has been building brands for other companies for a long time. Now, it’s time for her to build her own brand,” said Cole. “There are so many opportunities globally for this joint venture. Madonna sells out arenas around the world, from Scandinavia to South America. Madonna is an international calling card.”

Oseary said Madonna was considering building a fashion business that leveraged her name and fame for a long time, but was looking for the right partner. “It wasn’t really until we met Neil and Iconix that I really felt that we had the proper support system and infrastructure that we would need to reach our goals,” said Oseary.

Hypothetical opportunities for Madonna and MG Icon include endorsing other Iconix brands, such as Ed Hardy, which the singer has often worn in the past, or Danskin, noted Cole. “She’s a great dancer so that could make sense,” he explained. “But it’s not just endorsing a brand. When Madonna gets involved in a brand, she’s all in, so she’d probably be involved in design, photo shoots, everything. She’s really a perfectionist.”

The Material Girl line at Macy’s will launch in 200 doors and on macys.com in time for back-to-school, with the aim of expanding to almost all of the department store’s 850 doors, said Jeff Gennette, chief merchandising officer at Macy’s Inc. “We see a huge opportunity for us in this space for a fast-fashion line with great price points,” he said. “We have not done a lifestyle line in juniors’ before, and Madonna is a multigenerational icon.”

The collection initially includes apparel, footwear, handbags and jewelry, with retail prices ranging from $12 to $40. Offerings could expand into beauty and fragrance categories next year.

Material Girl is targeted at 13- to 25-year-olds, and Lourdes Leon, Madonna’s 13-year old daughter, is serving as the muse for the line and has been involved in design meetings for the collection. “Lourdes has an incredible sense of style and her point of view on fashion has definitely been an inspiration for the line,” said Gennette.

The collection will be featured in dedicated shops at Macy’s. Madonna, Iconix and Macy’s will support the launch with a multimedia print and online campaign.

Iconix has excelled at operating high-volume exclusive licensing deals with retailers, including its Mossimo, Fieldcrest and Waverly brands at Target; Ocean Pacific, Starter and Danskin Now at Wal-Mart; Candie’s and Mudd at Kohl’s, and Joe Boxer, Bongo and Cannon at Kmart.

In total, Iconix owns 17 brands, as well as 50 percent of Scion, a joint venture with Jay-Z, which owns the Artful Dodger brand; 50 percent of Ed Hardy, and 51 percent of the Ecko and Zoo York brands.

Worldwide, Iconix brands ring up retail sales of $10 billion, according to the company. In 2009, net income at Iconix grew 20.3 percent to $75.7 million, or $1.10 per diluted share, as revenue from licensing fees increased 7.1 percent to $232.1 million.

“Hopefully this will be a very fruitful and successful partnership,” said Oseary of MG Icon. “We have some very interesting ideas and a lot of exciting opportunities to explore. Now that we are in a partnership and have the structure of Neil and his team, who knows what incoming phone calls we’ll be getting.”