By  on June 18, 2007

A lot has happened since Nick Graham founded the ubiquitous Joe Boxer brand in 1985.

Wonderbrand LLC is the most recent venture of Graham's, who also is known as a rock musician, author of a self-published book on brand marketing entitled "One Hundred Questions" and founder of the National Underwear Association.

The San Francisco-based Wonderbrand is a joint venture with MJC Group, a company created in January to develop, design and manufacture consumer brands, as well as create a portfolio of licensed labels for the manufacturing and retail sectors in North America.

"I still love the entire business. It's a lot of fun," said Graham, who sold Joe Boxer in 2001 to Windsong/Allegiance Group, which in turn sold the $500 million brand to the Iconix Group in 2005.

Graham's newest collection licensed to Wonderbrand is Hurley, a hip youth label acquired by Nike in April 2002 for an estimated $100 million, with offices in Tokyo, Sydney and Barcelona.

Its philosophy and image are inspired by the surf, skate, art and music worlds, with an established product base in accessories, sportswear, footwear, swimwear and wet suits.

First-year wholesale sales of the combined men's and women's innerwear lines is $5 million to $6 million, said Graham.

Regarding merchandising the men's and women's collections, Graham said, "There hasn't been talk as of yet of merchandising the underwear and sleepwear with other Hurley products in-store. But we want to drive the customer to the intimate apparel floor and retailers see the opportunity to drive customers to the intimates floor because it's a younger brand. It's a real opportunity away from traditional sleepwear."

This will be Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Hurley's first foray into underwear and sleepwear for men and women. The first collection for fall will be in stores in July. Distribution will be aimed at specialty stores, the Web site, as well as e-commerce businesses that sell Hurley products. Distribution will be expanded for holiday to 400 major specialty and department store doors, primarily Macy's and Nordstrom.

Maria Barnes, senior vice president of Hurley's women's division, said, "It's been a really fun relationship with them [Wonderbrand] because they understand our brand and the DNA of the brand."Graham described the women's line as "a sexy, yet athletic tomboy look.…It's a customer who thinks of herself as very cool."

"We decided on doing young contemporary, not a junior line because young contemporary has a broader appeal to a wider audience, while junior has very focused demographics," explained Graham.

Dan Levine, vice president of new business development at Hurley, said in addition to edgy graphics and Hurley logos, there is a signature print that generates a lot of attention from Hurley fans — a mystical dog named Flahica — a surf anagram for Florida, Hawaii and California.

"Flahica is sort of the mascot of the Hurley brand," he said. "Flahica came out of a surf contest Hurley used to sponsor that revolved around Florida, Hawaii and California. Flahica is whatever you want it to be — a bunny, a Boston bulldog terrier or a wombat."

Bob Hurley, founder and chief executive officer of Hurley Inc., said, "Creating this collection was a natural extension for our brand and an opportunity to bring another slice of the Hurley lifestyle to our audience. Wonderbrand was the most natural licensing partner for us because of their expertise and successful track record in the underwear and loungewear categories."

Suggested retail prices will range from $8 to $30. Fabrics will include thermals and cotton knits and jerseys for fall, and flannels for holiday.

Women's undies of cotton, and cotton and spandex blends include G-strings, thongs, low-rise boy-cut briefs and sexy-looking boxers that are cut higher at the thigh and lower at the waist. There also are a variety of racer-back tanks, rolled-trim tanks, crew-neck tops, pull-over hoodies, elongated sleep T-shirts, short sleep dresses, sleep bloomers and yoga pants and updated all-in-one sleep teddies with a drawstring waist.

Wonderbrand's first licensee this year was Knotty Woodpecker, a collection of men's and women's sleepwear inspired by whimsical Americana, aimed at consumers who favor outdoor lifestyles. With a first-year wholesale sales projection of $1 million to $2 million for Knotty Woodpecker, distribution is targeted to major department and specialty stores, sporting goods chains, specialty lodge and Western stores and mail-order businesses.

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