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Disney’s Latest Mousetrap: Bridge Sportswear

NEW YORK -- Mickey Mouse is going further upscale.<BR><BR>In its first foray into the bridge sportswear market, Walt Disney Co.'s consumer products division has launched M. Mouse for fall. The line is being produced under license by Donnkenny Inc.,...

NEW YORK — Mickey Mouse is going further upscale.

In its first foray into the bridge sportswear market, Walt Disney Co.’s consumer products division has launched M. Mouse for fall. The line is being produced under license by Donnkenny Inc., with wholesale prices ranging from $30 for a cotton T-shirt to $600 for a lamb leather biker jacket.

Richard Rubin, president and chief executive officer of Donnkenny, estimated that the line will generate about $10 million in sales.

The sportswear line, slated for initial deliveries in July, features such items as cashmere and wool jackets, leather motorcycle jackets and silk georgette pants. The pieces feature Mickey Mouse insignias, done in subtle ways, like a small embroidery on a blazer pocket. Disney executives said the line may be expanded into nonsportswear categories like eveningwear.

Nina Leong, director of apparel and accessories for Disney’s consumer products, said, “We are targeting the Ellen Tracy, DKNY customer but we’re not going after their market. This is very different. This is wearable art and buying from the line is like collecting neat clothes.”

Many items, she said, will be limited editions.

“We don’t want to overexpand it,” said Rubin.”We want to limit the distribution.”

He said he is working with stores to develop concept shops featuring the merchandise.

Donnkenny already produces a better-price line of women’s and children’s sportswear, featuring Disney characters under the Mickey & Co. label, for department stores. Walt Disney, however, has hardly forgotten its mass market customer. In an effort to solidify its efforts in this area, the company last month unveiled a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to showcase its new brand umbrella, Mickey Unlimited, for its various licensed lines of mass market merchandise, from bedspreads to denim jackets, for teenagers and adults.

The merchandise is being sold at such stores as Sears, Roebuck & Co., Wal-Mart Stores, Target Stores, Kmart Corp. and J.C. Penney. “There are a lot of different aspects of Mickey Mouse, and we are just distilling his personality,” said Chris DeMoulin, vice president of licensing at Disney’s consumer products.

On the mass level, Disney already markets products under the established labels Disney Babies and Disney Stuff for Kids, which targets children from two to 10 years old.

For Mickey Unlimited, apparel, primarily sportswear, accounts for about 50 percent of the offering, according to Leong. Retail prices range from $3.50 for a pair of socks to $50 for a denim jacket. Mickey Unlimited also includes home furnishings and giftware items as well as accessories.