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Being a B&LLA: “It was great to be recognised by our peers for a collection we are so proud of”

With the 8 March closing date for entries for the 2024 Brand and Lifestyle Licensing Awards fast approaching, LicensingSource.net has been catching up with last year’s winners to find out what taking home a B&LLA meant to them.

Here, Ellen Sankey, brand licensing manager at Transport for London, reflects on TfL’s win in the Best Brand Licensed Fashion Accessories or Lifestyle Product or Range category for its Kurt Geiger collaborative collection of bags and accessories.

How did it feel to win a B&LLA last year? What did it mean to you and the team, and as a business?

Winning the B&LLA was really exciting, especially for me, as this was the first B&LLA for us since I started at TfL in late 2020. The B&LLAs celebrate creativity, innovation and excellence and it was great to be recognised by our peers for a collection we are so proud of.

TfL1Why do you think your partnership with Kurt Geiger was such a success?

Part of the reason was the power of the unexpected. It is great to surprise and delight people, and I don’t think a range of sparkling transport-themed handbags was on anyone’s 2023 bingo card!

The partnership gave both Kurt Geiger and TfL a chance to bring London to the rest of the world, in two parts – the first commemorating our classic Tube lines, and closing with a celebration of our newest railway, the Elizabeth line.

TfL2Can you tell us a little about TfL’s licensing activity since your win last April? 

We have had a busy year, which has involved a great collaboration with the English Cricket Board and London Spirit for a range of merchandise celebrating London’s newest cricket competition, as well as an exclusive range with Uniqlo showcasing some of our lovely heritage assets.

We saw the launch of new fashion label – London Underground Studio – in South Korea, and from spring 2023 we have been represented by IMG, who have jumped straight in, matching our vision and enthusiasm for the TfL brand.

TfL3What licensing opportunities are you currently excited about? Are there any new categories or territories you’d like to tap into?

We have recently launched a new Tube train toy with Brio, and a Routemaster bus from Quickbuild Airfix; it has been great seeing these toys come to life. Toys and games has always been a category that performs well for the brand, and we are excited to see this expand. We would love to have more offerings for our younger fans.

And conversely, what are the main challenges currently facing your business?

TfL is an interesting brand. As its appeal is so wide, we don’t have one clear fan base; it is as diverse as the city we serve. Many people think TfL is just the Underground and buses – but there are many more transport modes we support across London. To ensure we are offering something to the whole of our fan base can sometimes be a challenge, but we continue to rise to it. It keeps things exciting! We want to ensure that we continue to push the boundaries of what is expected.

Entries for the B&LLAs 2024 must close on Friday 8 March. Simply click here to get entering.

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