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National treasures: V&A’s Lauren Sizeland on 2020

The Museum’s head of licensing and business development on how the team continues to drive the licensing programme through lockdown.

The museum, heritage and institutions sector has endured its own challenges throughout this year’s lockdowns – including venue closures, key exhibitions put on hold and social distancing measures to incorporate.

All of this means the importance of licensed products is higher than ever. catches up with some key names in the sector to find out their views on the year to date.

Today: Lauren Sizeland, head of licensing and business development, V&A.

“The whole brand licensing team has worked throughout the lockdown period. The first thing we focused on was contacting our licensees to understand how the shutdown affected each of their businesses and to identify how best we could support them. Of course many have had to adapt their plans, changing ranges and routes to market, altering production and launch schedules as demand has shifted and we are supporting them throughout.

The global closure of many factories, shops and businesses provided obstacles but we found there was a natural expansion in certain product categories as a result of the changing market. We saw a particular increase for home décor and crafting as people spent more time at home.

Our crafting licensees DMC and Ehrman Tapestries saw an unprecedented surge in demand for their embroidery and needlepoint products, and we worked closely with several of our home interior licensees to create inspirational marketing and social media promotions. The success of these has led to the development of additional ranges due to be released this autumn.

Stationery products remained popular as people switched to work from home and chose home office supplies with more personality. There are new product types we could have never anticipated a few months ago for items such as face masks and we are responding to that with some highly decorative designs, both for the UK and markets in South East Asia. Hopefully they will put a smile on everybody’s faces, even if we can’t see them!

We are currently working on 17 forthcoming launches due to take place between AW20 to early 2021. There will be some exciting debut ranges, including a manufacturer of bespoke decorative glass for interior wall décor and crafting fabrics with Visage Textiles. We also have a lot of online activity planned in the coming months, particularly in China, including live streaming to promote our licensed products.

We launched our first video platform account on Kuaishou in August and have more activities planned with Tmall later this year, with a focus on 11/11, one of the key shopping events in China.”

This feature originally appeared in the autumn 2020 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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