LOS ANGELES — Universal Studios Consumer Products Group represents the latest studio to jump into the pool of apparel licensing deals with contemporary labels.

It hopes to seize on the appeal of “Cinderella Man,” starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger and opening June 3, by launching a line of vintage-inspired sportswear in a licensing partnership with Von Dutch Originals. Named for Jim Braddock, the underdog boxer in the Thirties who staged a comeback that took him to the world heavyweight championship, the Braddock line of T-shirts, polos, sweat-sets and cashmere T-shirts are garment-dyed in subdued tones of brown, charcoal, blue and pink and screen-printed with a crackled-looking boxing glove.

“We’ve called the line Braddock to capture the essence of the film and to position it as a lifestyle clothing brand,” said Cynthia Modders, senior vice president of licensing and retail development for Universal Studios Consumer Products Group.

The product is expected to hit about 10 stores by the end of next week, including Kitson in Los Angeles, H. Lorenzo in West Hollywood and the Lounge in New York. Von Dutch will also carry the line at its store and sell it on its Web site. Braddock will retail from $65 to $89. An expanded collection will launch at MAGIC International in Las Vegas in August.

Universal has held out from such higher-end partnerships, waiting for the right movie and character, and focusing instead on mass-tier distribution. In comparison, the Walt Disney and Warner Bros. studios are tapping into extensive archives to resurrect characters. Most recently, Disney has been working with Hysteric Glamour and Religion for its Tinkerbell line, and Warner Bros. has partnered with brands such as And Cake, Joystick and Shoshanna for its Tweety collection.

Braddock is the first of other contemporary deals by Universal. The studio expects to debut an apparel collection in June exclusively at Kitson based on the “Curious George” character.

For Von Dutch chief executive officer and creative director Tonny Sorensen, the venture is a way to utilize the company’s sourcing base and focus on a new product. Sorensen has been guiding the design direction of the company since designer Christian Audigier left last August. He anticipates the line will do at least $2 million the first year.

This story first appeared in the May 26, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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