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Apparel & Accessories

Licensed Apparel & Accessories Up 3.5% in 2017

Retail sales of licensed apparel and accessories goods were up a combined 3.5% in 2017, adding over $1.2 billion in value in the U.S./Canada, according to TLL’s Annual Licensing Business Survey. The two product categories generated a combined $37.2 billion in licensed retail sales, or just over 34% of the greater total.

Sales of licensed apparel merchandise were up by 4.1% to reach $21.6 billion in the U.S./Canada in 2017—a slower rate of growth than that observed in 2016 (5.8%) and 2014 (6.6%). Nevertheless, the category, which constitutes 19.8% of all licensed sales, grew by over $850 million from the previous year. Entertainment/character brands grew by almost 10% in this category, but overall growth was flat at around 1-2% in 2017. Sports and fashion brands continued to steer growth at rates observed in the last couple of years. Consumer demand for athleisure and nostalgia continued to drive sales into 2017, with music-based brands, in particular, seeing a broader boost compared to 2016.

Accessories remained stable at 2.8% growth in 2016, reaching an overall $15.6 billion in retail sales after relatively flat-ish growth of 1.8% in both 2016 and 2015.

  • Eyewear grew 3.5%, even as certain big-label fashion houses brought licensing in-house in 2017. Undaunted, eyewear manufacturers were bullish in securing new brands from the fashion space and ensuring prices remained competitive.
  • Handbags, backpacks, and messenger bags grew 3.2% after falling 1% in 2016 and 2015. Increased collaborations between fashion houses (who had largely brought their programs in-house) and property types like entertainment/character and music drove growth for the adult consumer.
  • Headwear continues to perform well at 2.5% growth thanks to the overall streetwear trend in popular culture, making extensions feasible for a variety of brands. Sports licensing for caps continues to perform well and drive the category.
  • Hosiery was up 2.2% as fashionistas continued to invest in high quality, high price branded designs in leggings, stockings, and socks.
  • Sales of licensed jewelry and watches went up 2.3%, in part because of an influx of licensed brands. Unit sales were largely flat however, with many deals being struck primarily for their promotional value. Higher, luxury-priced ranges sold particularly well.
  • Luggage and travel accessories went up 1.9% as travel and airport sales increased more broadly in 2017.
  • Scarves and ties were up 1.0%, following years of steady declines (-1% in 2016 and -1.6% in 2015). Men’s accessories were the strongest performers, especially for the formal and the more upscale everyday sub-categories.
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