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‘A brand with authentic DNA is attractive to retail’

Maui and Sons’ licensing director Blake Harrington on the growth of the lifestyle apparel company.

Firstly, how has your business been performing in general over the past 12 months?

Over the last year business has proved quite successful. We’ve signed a half dozen new licensing agreements in multiple markets and categories along with securing a DTR deal with Zara for a women’s range that launched spring 2017. On top of our licensing business we’ve doubled our wholesale business in the US with our apparel/accessories and food & beverage categories.

What have been your highlights?

Definitely our collaboration with Zara has been one of our highlights over the last year. Working with their team has been a great experience and we are grateful to have the opportunity in being in all their stores around the world. Our heritage throwback collection for spring 2017 has been well received with our current retail partners such as Macy’s, Pac Sun, Amazon, Jack’s Surfboards and Sun Diego in the US. We’ve also just launched our own e-commerce sight which has been a long time coming.

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What will be your main focuses at Licensing Expo this year?

We are focusing on securing potential licensing agreements for ladies and kids products for the US market. We feel there is great opportunity with both categories, especially with the ladies products after the great reception we’ve had with the Zara collaboration. We are also looking for partners in the back to school sector, with bags, backpacks and stationery being great licensing categories for us outside of the US.

How important is Licensing Expo is your overall business? What benefits do you get from exhibiting there?

Licensing Expo has always been a great show for us and very important to our business.

How strong is the US licensing industry in general at the moment, do you think?

We are very focused on our business so we’re not sure how everyone else is performing. However we’ve seen significant growth with our existing partners and expect the trend to continue throughout 2018. Because we are a brand and not driven by a property or character affected by movie releases, our business tends to be consistent over the years.

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Do you see any trends emerging?

Brands are becoming more and more important especially when you look at fast fashion and the competition in the marketplace. Having a brand with history and authentic DNA is attractive to retailers and manufacturers, as it separates us from the no name product you see on the high street. I mean how many ways can you really make a t-shirt? But having a brand or logo is what creates differentiation, especially when the consumer identifies to what is being represented in the product. Maui and Sons is a California lifestyle apparel company that emerged out of the 1980s and 90s, which is very current to what is being sold in the fashion retailers today.

What’s the one thing that you are looking forward to most about Licensing Expo this year?

Seeing what we can do with our Sharkman character. He’s the icon (half man half shark) that is synonymous with Maui and Sons. Plus we are working on a top secret project with Sharkman which we can’t quite talk about yet…

What would you most like to achieve at the show the year?

Of course we would like to find and secure more licensing deals, but mostly we are looking forward to speaking with people and hearing the excitement when people talk about our brand and what we’re doing. We get a lot out of speaking with people and listening to feedback and catering our business to an ever changing market.

Maui and Sons will be on booth D74 at this year’s Licensing Expo.

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