Retro fashion labels that have been off the market for a while have been turning to licensing and collaborative partnerships as they attempt to reintroduce their brands. Among the announcements that have come to light in the past few months:
- Baby Phat was recently repurchased by its founder, Kimora Lee Simmons—who now designs it with her two daughters—and has partnered with retailer Forever 21 on a capsule of 18 affordable pieces. The initiative is intended to be the first step in kicking off a broader relaunch effort. The streetwear label’s first iteration began in 1999 as an offshoot of Phat Farm, owned by the founder’s former husband Russell Simmons.
- San Marco, a 1990s footwear brand focused on hiking boots, is being reintroduced through a licensing deal with HEAD Sport, starting in the Italian market. San Marco, owned by Garsport, is expected to roll out into other European markets after the Italian debut.
- Moschino, which first came on the scene in 1983 and is currently owned by Italian brand holder Aeffe through its Velmar division, licensed Custo Barcelona to reintroduce the brand internationally—especially in Europe, the U.S., and China—beginning with a capsule collection in spring/summer 2020. Velmar also manages Alberta Ferretti, Prada, Byblos, and other fashion labels.
- Fubu, a mark that peaked in the 1990s before leaving store shelves in 2003, has remained a notable presence in pop culture and has been the focus of occasional retail and manufacturer partnerships in the years since. Most recently, it paired with retailer Century 21 for a streetwear capsule intended for consumers 18-34. The venture is meant to be the beginning of a full relaunch that will extend from apparel and accessories to hotels and media channels.
Of course, licensing is not always the answer. JNCO, a brand founded in 1985 and best known for its very wide-legged denim popular during the 1990s, licensed its name to Chinese manufacturer Guotai Litian Group in 2014. But the brand owners say the quality fell during the partnership, resulting in decreased revenues, even as purchases of vintage JNCO items picked up online on resale sites such as eBay. Now, the proprietors are going the in-house route to debut eight high-end jeans SKUs as they bring a new iteration of the brand back to consumers.