Revisiting the ‘90s

Licensing initiatives targeting the millennial market frequently highlight styles and themes from the 1990s. The strategy makes sense when you consider that millennials, born from 1981 to 1996 and currently between 22 and 37 years old, spent their childhood and/or teen years in that decade and often have fond memories. It follows that marketers’ inclination to highlight products and properties from the 1990s has become more of a way of life than a trend or a fad.

A recent raft of 1990s-themed initiatives underscores the continued strength of this strategy. Some examples:

  • Forever 21 paired with Kodak for a fall 2018 collection of 26 brightly colored women’s and men’s shirts and outerwear items available in 600-plus stores globally, featuring designs reminiscent of the photography brand’s 1990s packaging and logos. Many of the pieces, produced by Hybrid Apparel, are inspired by Kodak’s NASCAR sponsorship during that era.
  • Reebok enlisted social media influencers Angie Chavez, Sara Gourlay, Josh Matthews, Jordan Page, Kirk Tilton, and Jay Versace to create 1990s-inspired capsule collections tied to the relaunch of the company’s 1993 Aztrek off-road running shoe.
  • Nickelodeon teamed with FYE in spring 2018 for a short- and long-sleeved t-shirt assortment featuring the network’s 1990s characters, including Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, and SpongeBob. This is just one of several 1990s-themed initiatives Nickelodeon has undertaken. It offered 1990s collections in conjunction with its 25th anniversary back in 2016 with retailers such as Story, for example, and most recently launched a NickSplat video channel, featuring its classic 1990s programming, with VRV in August of this year.
  • Designer Daniel Patrick created a high-end holiday streetwear capsule collection, which debuted last month, inspired by the Starter Black Label brand that had its heyday in the ‘90s. The 11-piece assortment includes hoodies, t-shirts, snapback caps, windbreakers, and tracksuits in primary colors, black, and grey, as well as a version of the classic Starter satin jacket.
  • Mattel worked with NCLA, a vegan beauty products company, on a limited-edition range of Barbie pink and purple lipsticks and nail polish colors, as well as cuticle oil and nail wraps, all in pink packaging hearkening back to the doll’s 1990s look. Product names include Barbie Dreamhouse, Barbie Convertible, and Made in the ‘90s.

Note that this strategy works for a wide variety of properties, from fashion designers and footwear brands to corporate trademarks, characters, and toys.

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