AMERICAN EAGLE NEAR DEAL WITH MIRAMAX

Byline: Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — In a deal that would further cement the fashion-Hollywood connection, American Eagle Outfitters is close to signing a multi-picture marketing deal with Dimension Films, the genre film division of Miramax.
In the proposed alliance, American Eagle would become an official wardrobe provider for at least four Dimension productions targeting the retailer’s Generation Y demographic, those between ages 16 and 34. American Eagle operates 503 stores in 46 states.
Details of the prospective agreement were not immediately available, and the two firms declined comment. Sources familiar with the deal, however, confirmed talks were under way and said an announcement was imminent.
American Eagle already has provided the wardrobe for “Boys and Girls,” released last month by Dimension, featuring Freddie Prinze Jr., Claire Forlani, Jason Biggs and Amanda Detmer. At the specialty retailer’s Web site, ae.com, there is a link to the film, which also provides cross-links to the film trailer, contests, other promotions, behind-the-scenes set information and a feature on Jason Biggs wearing American Eagle gear. Customers can buy what Biggs is wearing at the ae.com site.
American Eagle isn’t the only fashion company looking for innovative ways to cross-merchandise with Hollywood. Last year, Tommy Hilfiger Corp. partnered with Dimension’s teenage horror flick, “The Faculty,” where Hilfiger outfitted the cast. And Levi, Strauss & Co. had a partnership last year with MGM’s “The Mod Squad,” where it wardrobed the cast and developed a 1/Mod line for distribution to Levi’s stores and online. Levi’s also had a deal this spring with Sony Pictures’ “Whatever It Takes,” where it outfitted the cast with L2 brand products.
The Dimension Films alliance isn’t American Eagle’s first entry into the Hollywood scene. Last year, it partnered with Columbia TriStar Television to be the official wardrobe provider for the hot teen drama “Dawson’s Creek.”
In that deal, American Eagle and Columbia TriStar partnered in cross-promotional and advertising campaigns that appeared on the Internet, in magazines, in American Eagle stores and in its seasonal catalogs. At the AE-Zine section on the retailer’s Web site, visitors can click onto a special “Dawson’s Creek” link that includes the top picks from the American Eagle line by Alonzo Wilson, the show’s costume designer, and buy them, as well as a link to the apparel that’s featured on each week’s episode of the series.
In a similarly structured deal, the expected marketing alliance is likely to include American Eagle promotions of future Dimension Films releases at the ae.com Web site, in its seasonal catalogs and throughout its stores. Based on the “Dawson’s Creek” setup, e-commerce would be offered as well.
For American Eagle, a high-profile deal with Dimension Films could be what it needs to provide significant brand exposure for its back-to-school fashion trends and help boost what has been a sagging stock price. Shares of the company closed Tuesday at 15 3/16, down 13/16, in over-the-counter trading. The company’s 52-week high is 58 1/2, with a low of 11 5/8.
For the key b-t-s selling season, other Generation Y firms are seeking partnerships with celebrities and studios in exchange for potentially significant brand exposure.
The stars of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are vamping it up on Alloy Online’s b-t-s print catalog. Alloy’s first celebrity cover features James Marsters and Emma Caulfield. Its fall catalog will include content and Web promotions with the Buffy stars. The Alloy catalog also has an interview with Mena Suvari and Jason Biggs, both of whom star in the upcoming teen flick “Loser,” due in theaters this summer. Hoping to drive teens to its site and the box office, Alloy also is the official Web partner for the Sony film.
Not wanting to be left out of a potentially lucrative market, network and TV producers are also capitalizing on their characters’ wardrobes via the Web. One of the earliest sites is asseenin.com, launched in May 1999, which directs consumers to sites where they can buy merchandise from Aaron Spelling’s stable of shows. Spelling Television is a minority shareholder in the Los Angeles-based company, which was founded by Samuel Baldoni, a 23-year veteran of the entertainment industry.
Plans include a fully operational e-commerce site, which will enable AsSeenIn to eventually handle all fulfillment.
The site currently features items from the closets of Pru, Piper and Phoebe Halliwell of “Charmed,” and tells customers where they can purchase them. Other shows featured were “7th Heaven” and “Any Day Now.” The now defunct “Beverly Hills 90210,” which recently ended its 10-year run, had been a featured show on asseenin.com. The site will showcase Spelling’s new show “Titans,” which made NBC’s fall schedule.
Vendors who have provided apparel on the shows include Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, gloss.com, J. Crew, Quiksilver, Steven Madden and XOXO.

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