SpongeBob SquarePants will be having a major fashion moment this week on the runway.
Nickelodeon and (RED) have partnered with Moschino to launch a SpongeBob RED capsule that will be shown Thursday at the Moschino resort show in Los Angeles. The collection will be sold at luxury retailers and Moschino stores beginning in November. Nickelodeon’s proceeds from all Moschino products will go toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
SpongeBob SquarePants, the successful animated TV series created by marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg, has been on the air for the past 18 years. SpongeBob is the all-time highest-rated series on Nickelodeon and the most distributed property of MTV Networks. As of 2015, the media franchise has generated $12 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.
Jeremy Scott, creative director for Moschino, said he was very excited to work on a SpongeBob RED collaboration, having previously tied in with the animated character.
“I love SpongeBob and when I was working on the ideas around the collection, he fit in perfectly — then to be able to contribute my designs to helping the (RED) charity to continue to do their wonderful work in raising money to combat the AIDS epidemic,” the designer said.
Deborah Dugan, chief executive officer of (RED), said this was the first time the organization has partnered with Nickelodeon, and the first time it has partnered with an animated character. “Our model is always to partner where people’s passions are,” she said. She said the fact that (RED) is teaming with Moschino and Scott, “brings a lot of cool factor to the fight against AIDS.”
Pam Kaufman, president of consumer products and chief marketing officer of Nickelodeon, said, “SpongeBob SquarePants is one of the most iconic animated characters ever, and his fans span generations, demographics, cultures and continents.” She said it’s their hope that this collaboration can help shine more light on the need to fight against AIDS. She explained that she met Dugan at an event about a year ago and asked her if she’d ever want to do something with an animated character.
“I told Deb, your organization is amazing, you’re tied in with some of the biggest blue chip brands in the world. But maybe it’s time to get the message a little wider to kids and family. Belvedere Vodka, American Express, Starbucks are all awesome brands, but who better than SpongeBob to help spread this message to a wider audience?” said Kaufman.
Kaufman showed her some design work of what SpongeBob RED could look like from a fashion perspective. “When she saw it, she said she’s in. Steve Hillenburg, creator of SpongeBob, agreed right away,” said Kaufman.
Scott has designed 16 different items for women, men and children that include apparel, swimwear and handbags featuring SpongeBob RED designs. The collection will be launched June 8 at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.
While Scott is keeping the designs under wraps, he gave a hint as to what they look like.
“I wanted to play with the idea of [SpongeBob] and the flames from the Hot Rods — as well as turning him into a body builder muscle man archetype for some other styles. Another has him flexing as he’s popping out of a cutout with the Moschino logo above him,” said Scott.
Asked if he’s a big SpongeBob fan, Scott replied, “Of course, who isn’t? That is how my first collaboration happened with Nickelodeon — as I made myself a gold necklace of SpongeBob from a toy version of him as a pharaoh and wore it at the end of my show. I got a sweet note from them about how excited they were to see that and the inquiry if I’d like to work on something with them in the future. I said yes and then about a year later I had the perfect idea — which was my debut show for Moschino where I brought SpongeBob in and did bags and sweater knits with him filling his holes with the Moschino logo. It was a big hit and now part of my history with that debut show.”
Men’s T-shirts retail between $250 and $480, while women’s T-shirts are $450. Prices weren’t available yet for the accessories and swimwear.
The partnership between Nickelodeon and (RED) goes through 2018.
“I look at the new generation and what will their world look like?”said Dugan, citing driverless cars and AI street drops. “Can they have a world without AIDS? Every two minutes a teen gets HIV. It remains the No. 1 killer of adult women worldwide. We keep having to put a lot of heat and awareness on it. If people think AIDS is over, we’ve got about 35 million people they should meet,” she said.
“Awareness is really big for us, and what better partner than SpongeBob? For 15 years, it’s been a leading show. Last year, 160 million watched SpongeBob. But what we love is how crazy popular he is on social,” said Dugan, noting a third of the viewers are adults 18 and over, with no children.
(RED) was initially launched with Giorgio Armani, American Express and Gap. “Now it’s 10 years later, we’re 20 people in Chelsea, New York City, and we try to do big things really well. We’re very thoughtful with whom we partner with and why. Apple just dropped the (RED) iPhone which is in the market now, and it’s quite hot,” said Dugan.
The initiative has raised $465 million through its partnerships for AIDS. “The beauty of (RED) is we’re only as a good as our next big idea,” said Dugan. RED was founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage businesses and people in the fight against AIDS.
While Moschino is the anchor of the whole collection, Nickelodeon is working with (RED)’s existing partners to see if they’ll expand the line.
“Jeremy Scott is an extraordinary partner to Nickelodeon. We always say he’s the perfect Nick kid. He grew up on Nickelodeon. He’s a big fan,” said Kaufman. “[Scott] has been our partner for many years. He launched the first SpongeBob collection. He partnered with us on a Nineties Nickelodeon collection with Ren & Stimpy. He also did the “Slime City” collection and Gwen Stefani wore the dress at the ‘Kid’s Choice Awards,’” said Kaufman.
SpongeBob’s image is evident on all the items. They are hoping to reveal a big retail partnership in the next few weeks.
As for how the designs turned out, Kaufman said: “They’re amazing. SpongeBob is interpreted in a very exaggerated fashion. The minute I saw it I said, ‘it’s so Jeremy Scott.’ It’s very exaggerated, very exciting. It’s not like anything we’ve ever seen SpongeBob look like before. This is a character who’s been interpreted by so many artists over the years.”
Meantime, for those who can’t get enough of this square yellow sponge, “SpongeBob SquarePants,” the musical with original music from performers such as David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper and John Legend, will be coming to Broadway, with opening night scheduled for Dec. 4.
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