Studio 54 is getting new life through brand collaborations and the intersection of pop culture and intellectual property is getting a new player — Venturesome.
Global Brands Group veteran Elliott Azrak launched Venturesome this year to look for “strategic acquisition, investment and licensing opportunities at the intersection of retail, media and pop culture.”
He’s starting off quickly through an exclusive partnership with MGM Resorts International, which owns the rights to the Studio 54 name, and will see the launch of luxury lifestyle apparel and cosmetics brands later this year.
“When I look at something like Studio 54…it needs to start over again and it needs to be put at the highest level,” Azrak told WWD.
That effort is already underway with a collection put together with Michael Kors, who showed part of it on the runway during February’s New York Fashion Week. The brand will also get its own channel on Sirius XM, Studio 54 Radio, as well as an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, “Studio 54: Night Magic,” set to open next year.
Azrak said the key is to understand how different demographics respond to pop culture themes and then to jump in quickly and monetize early.
“The great thing about pop culture is there’s always a mercurial factor to it,” Azrak said. “You have the blockbuster studio releases that are really every other weekend. There needs to be a company like Venturesome that understands the need for speed. There’s been a major challenge for consumer-driven companies to timely prepare products and react in order to effectively capitalize on trends. Venturesome is really looking at brands in a very holistic way.”
Azrak knows his brands. He cofounded American Marketing Enterprises, which is the largest character-licensed sleepwear company in the world, working with the likes of Disney, Marvel, Warner Brothers, Viacom, Universal and Epic Games. The company was acquired by Li & Fung USA, now Global Brands, in 2007.
“Elliott was instrumental to the growth of Li & Fung’s global licensing business for fashion and entertainment brands,” said William Fung, group chairman of Li & Fung and chairman of Global Brands. “We plan to work closely with him to leverage his unique insight and knowledge to identify new partnerships within media, brands and entertainment.”
Venturesome, which has partnerships with Global Brands and Centric Brands, is also out on the hunt, looking to buy brands that can be built on.
In that, Azrak has some company. A growing number of other firms, including Iconix Brand Group and Authentic Brands Group, have carved out their own niches in intellectual property, looking for brands that can be expanded with new approaches and fresh categories or distribution.
Venturesome’s approach will be different for each brand, but for Azrak it all starts with staying close to the culture and knowing how different demographics are tuning in.
“It’s in my veins, in my DNA,” he said. “I have a passion for all things art, music and fashion. I see the movies, I listen to the music, I get excited to be around people of all ages and really connect with them.”