Plotting a Course for Licensing

Maps are growing as a design theme for licensed apparel, gifts, and home décor, particularly in the U.K. market:

  • Rocket Licensing is expanding the A-Z brand, founded in 1936. New launches for 2016 include a capsule collection from men’s fashion brand Ben Sherman highlighting 1960s-era maps of Carnaby Street, Portobello Road, and other locations where it currently has stores, and a range of journals and other products from stationery chain Paperchase.
  • Edward Stanford Limited is licensing its digitized map archives, along with its brand and logo, for the first time, with the Royal Geographical Society (keeper of its 800 historic maps) serving as its licensing agent for the cartographic collection. Stanfords was established in 1853 and its flagship retail outlet, the world’s largest map and travel bookstore, opened in 1901 in Covent Garden.
  • Transport for London is bringing its licensing program, which includes the famous map of the London Underground (among other assets), into international markets after introducing an array of merchandise in the U.K. Licensed products on board fall into the categories of gifts, home décor, and fashion, encompassing items ranging from crockery to branded eyelashes.
  • The British Library has 4.5 million maps in its collection; they represent a large portion of the institution’s licensing business, second only to Alice in Wonderland-themed products.

The current design trend for all-over-printed merchandise is one factor that makes these and other troves of maps from around the world attractive to licensees, retailers, and consumers. The popularity of patterned goods such as men’s suits, gardening gadgets, and kitchen appliances has been ongoing for some time and creates a need for eye-catching new motifs that stand out at retail.

Not only do maps fill the bill visually, but they are recognizable, are often associated with fond personal memories, and offer many creative possibilities tied to historic time periods and/or geographic locations.

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