BUFFY VAMPS HER WAY INTO JUNIORS

Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — Twentieth Century Fox Television has signed a license with CPI International Cos. to produce a junior line based on the popular TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which airs on the WB Network.
The show, which stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, has developed a strong teen following by mixing dark humor, teen angst and murder in a horror genre.
Fox is banking on Gellar, whose career was boosted by the feature films “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and “Scream 2,” to help sell the line.
“It’s not about logo-slapping. It’s about identifying with merchandise the characters wear on the show,” said Steven Parker, marketing coordinator for Fox, referring to the reason for Fox’s foray into the teen market. This is its first venture in marketing a full-fledged junior sportswear line.
CPI, which produces the London-based Worker’s for Freedom line as well as the She by Sheri Bodell line, plans wider distribution of the Buffy line for July 30 delivery. It is currently being tested in 30 Warner Bros. Studio stores.
It is also a first-time venture into the junior market for CPI, which produces higher-priced lines.
Les Samuel, vice president of CPI — a division of CPI Industries Group in Hong Kong — said he plans to target junior chains. Warner Bros. initially purchased 22,000 units for the 30 stores.
“I wanted something underneath our Worker’s line [in price],” Samuel said, “something that reaches a wider audience, and Buffy works into that. The fact that she dresses up but doesn’t run around with labels like Versace or D&G tattooed on her means it is easier to produce a line that is very similar to what she wears.”
Samuel projected volume of $2 million to $3 million in the first year.
He and designer Lisa Boerner, who is on retainer and is a partner in Mental Ink Design Studio, underscored the importance of focusing on fashion elements in the line, as opposed to T-shirts.
The bulk of the line is directional and includes drawstring skirts, boatneck shirts, hooded dresses and tops, camisole tops, slit skirts and nylon drawstring pants with racing stripes. Wholesale prices range up to $38.
The line does incorporate some short-sleeved and long-sleeved logo T-shirts with a Gothic heart and the show’s title and wholesales at $9 and $10. There are also toned-down logos with the words “evil” and “vampire” in Gothic lettering and long-sleeved shirts with small photos of the show’s stars.
At this point, the concept of the line seems to be marketing itself. “Teen People” is planning a contest in its September issue. First prize is a $500 wardrobe from the Buffy collection, second prize is a $250 wardrobe and 50 runners-up will get T-shirts.
“We don’t want it to be the Sarah Michelle Gellar line,” Boerner said.
“Regardless of the show, we want it to be good, strong merchandise that stands on its own,” she said.
It has not been determined whether Gellar will wear the licensed line on her show.
“We would like to sell beyond the show,” Samuel said. “We don’t want it to shout ‘TV show’ because as soon as the show takes a hit, we’re over.”

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