Brand management firms have a new competitor in town: Saban Brands Lifestyle Group.
This story first appeared in the December 10, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Created by Saban Brands, the operation is actively on the prowl for fashion and lifestyle labels. It also has a twist to its business model that differs from many other competitors, which tend to focus solely on licensing of merchandise for sale in stores. Working with Saban Brands Entertainment Group, also under the Saban Brands umbrella, projects for any intellectual property assets acquired by one division can be flowed into the other where appropriate. That enables the firm to leverage its expertise in lifestyle branding and entertainment, giving it total control over both sectors.
The lifestyle group is led by Daniel Castle, managing director of strategic business development. Working out of its New York office and showroom, he reports to Elie Dekel, who heads up the entertainment group in Los Angeles and is also president of Saban Brands.
Castle founded fashion brand Castle Starr and was the former vice president for international business development at Iconix Brand Group before joining Saban in June. He said of company founder Haim Saban’s plans to invest in fashion and lifestyle brands: “I proposed an acquisition to him and long-term plans for the brand once we buy it. After he went through the 25-page PowerPoint presentation, he said to me, ‘Everything looks great, but you’re not spending enough on marketing.’ We want to invest heavily in our brands and their equity. Our licensees appreciate that about Saban. That’s when I knew I made the right decision in joining his company.”
Current brands in the lifestyle division are the Southern California fashion brand Paul Frank and musician-inspired apparel, footwear and accessories brand Macbeth. The entertainment portfolio includes the brands Power Rangers, Julius Jr. and Digimon Fusion. Popples, Luna Petunia and EmojiVille are in development.
According to Dekel, the company’s roots in the entertainment industry go back more than 25 years, when Haim Saban cofounded Saban Productions in 1983, which later became Saban Entertainment in 1988. Haim Saban also was the cofounder of Fox Family Worldwide and was instrumental in the creation of Power Rangers under Saban Entertainment, which fueled the growth of the company that led to its merger with News Corp., after which it was renamed Fox Family. The entertainment empire Saban created was sold to The Walt Disney Co. in 2001 in a deal valued at $5.3 billion in what was then the largest private transaction in the industry.
Heading Saban Capital Group, Saban and his team through its private equity division have a number of controlling and minority investments in a variety of media holdings globally, as well as in real estate. Saban Brands was created in 2010. Assets acquired by Saban Brands are funded by Saban Capital.
Adam Chesnoff, president and chief operating officer of Saban Capital, said, “As Saban Brands continues to grow, we are very committed to supporting this new venture. We look forward to adding new, unique brands with strong consumer appeal and global potential to Saban Brands Lifestyle Group’s portfolio in the near future.”
The fashion-Hollywood connection is a growing trend, given the focus on lifestyle and the emerging power of social and digital media. Relativity, a media firm involved in multiple aspects of entertainment — including film production, television, music publishing and digital media — recently formed M3/Relativity to invest and incubate growing fashion brands. M3’s platform includes leveraging the capabilities of Relativity’s entertainment business.