Forever 21 x Barbie launches in-store, online and in the metaverse

On the heels of launching a new brand campaign entitled ‘Forever LA’, leading fashion retailer Forever 21 has announced its latest collaboration with Barbie.

The new limited-edition collection includes a range of on-trend vintage-style apparel items, swim, sleepwear, beauty and accessories as well as home décor, inspired by the Barbie DreamHouse. The collection will be simultaneously available in-store, online, and in the Forever 21 Shop City experience on Roblox.

Forever 21’s experience for Roblox was created in partnership with the Virtual Brand Group (VBG), a web3 fashion designer, game developer and retailer that creates immersive metaverse experiences for global brands’ web3 businesses, and which was recently awarded “Best Digital Product” by Licensing International. The metaverse collection was created by VBG’s global multicultural design team working across five countries.

The Forever 21 x Barbie collection meticulously replicates its real-life inspiration and campaign using Roblox’s latest Layered Clothing technology powering hyper-realistic 3D clothing that fits any avatar body type. The designs feature real-world fabrics and details like intricate stitching on the collection’s Malibu Denim Jacket, embossed art, beadwork, and textured fabrics on jumpsuits, dresses, hoodies, iconic t-shirts, trucker hats, and jelly bags. Fans globally can now follow the “#TwinWithYourAvatar” trend.

“Barbie, a SoCal native, plays in the same inclusive, empowering and fashionable space that our customers love, appreciate and have come to expect from our business,” says Winnie Park, CEO at Forever 21. “We are thrilled to offer shoppers unexpected line extensions that include Barbie in-store and online and virtual fashions in the metaverse. This was the perfect collection to launch first, under our Forever LA umbrella.”

Another in-store and online first for the fashion retailer, Forever 21 will be offering the Barbie Fashionistas, the most diverse doll line on the market, which celebrates an inclusive view of beauty and fashion, representing a range of body types, skin tones, eye colours and unique physical traits.

Available at all Forever 21 locations, the Barbie Summer 2022 Collection celebrates inclusive fashion with sizes ranging from XS up to 3XL and offers an additional assortment for kids. Prices range from $6.99 – to $54.99, and pieces will be available for a limited time only at Forever 21 stores, on the Forever 21 App, and online on The new inclusive fashions can also be acquired in the Roblox Avatar Shop and worn by any avatars on the platform.


George at Asda partners with Animal Planet for children’s clothing range

George at Asda, one of Britain’s leading retailers, has partnered with Animal Planet, a member of the Warner Bros Discovery family of brands, to launch a range of children’s clothing made from responsibly sourced materials.

The kidswear collection, which went on sale both online and in 450 selected Asda stores in the week preceding Easter, is suitable for all age ranges across baby, boys, and girls and comprises 26 SKUs. The partnership reinforces George’s commitment to providing customers with sustainable products and each item is sourced with more responsible fibres including cotton and recycled polyester.

The partnership was brokered by Warner Bros Discovery’s UK licensing agent, IPR Licensing, and the range was designed and manufactured by Poetic Brands, which specialises in licensed apparel and sustainable fashion lines.

The clothing itself features slogans encouraging kids to reconnect with the planet and animals, such as “Love Our Planet”,Be Kind” and “Wild One”, with all products designed using illustrations depicting various animals.

The launch has been supported by both partners including an on-air ad campaign on Animal Planet, a feature in the monthly issue of Animal Planet magazine, social media outreach and POS activity in stores where the range is on sale.

Jade Snart, Sustainability and Compliance Expert at George, says: “We’re extremely proud to have partnered with Animal Planet to launch an incredible range of children’s clothing this spring. It was clear from the beginning of the partnership that both George and Animal Planet share the same business values – trying to make our world greener!

“All of the products within the range have a sustainable element to them because at George we’re committed to doing the right thing by our customers and the planet.”

Ian Woods, SVP International Consumer Products at Warner Bros Discovery, adds: “We are extremely proud of this collaboration with George at Asda because it’s been a true partnership in delivering a clothing range that meets the objectives of both teams. The designs are fantastic, and we have high hopes this is just the beginning of a strong collaboration between Animal Planet and the George at Asda team.”

The George x Animal Planet collection is available online at, and in selected Asda stores, with prices starting from just £4.

Aquarius is ready to rock Europe with new licensed gifts

Aquarius has launched an innovative new range of rock music-themed products to the European market. Featuring some of the world’s most celebrated acts, the range has been designed to help retailers reach a dedicated and engaged audience of music fans.

The line-up includes a host of interesting takes on traditional formats including games, playing cards and puzzles for the range’s key licences: David Bowie, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, and Grateful Dead. Plus, the collection’s hero product, a brand-new KISS-themed board game approved by Gene Simmons himself, will join the range this autumn.

The Board Game that Rocks

New for autumn 2022, the KISS Tour Board Game invites players to put on the best shows, collect tonnes of cash, and leave rock and mayhem in their wake. The first player to hold a concert in each city on the cross-country tour wins. For 2-4 players, ages 12+. Available for pre-order now.


 450pc Picture Disc Puzzles

Emulating a classic vinyl disc, Aquarius’ line-up of classic rock picture discs are the ultimate gifts for music fans. Each puzzle uses a precision cutting technique to ensure a perfect fit for all puzzle pieces, leaving virtually no puzzle dust behind. The thick quality paper is glare-free allowing the completed puzzle to be shown off with pride. Available now.

Playing Cards

These full 54-card-deck playing card sets feature beautiful artwork of music icons to make the perfect memorabilia to add to any fan collection. The playing cards are perfect for game nights, birthdays, and stocking fillers. Available now.


Funky Chunky Magnets

The Aquarius magnets are perfectly detailed and are sure to ignite debate over which rock band is the best. Whether they are stuck on a whiteboard, in a game room, held in a collection case, or simply on the kitchen fridge, these officially licenced magnets are an ideal gifting item. Available now.

Konrad Hoenig, CEO at Aquarius, says: “Our line-up of music products is unique, offering retailers the opportunity to tap into an uncharted space in the market and support growth. We know that music fans are incredibly engaged and love high-quality memorabilia of their favourite bands and artists. Our innovative twists on classic formats are perfect for gifting and collectors alike.”

For more information on Aquarius’ product range, visit:

Children’s brand Belle & Boo seals licensing deal with Michael Miller Fabrics

Award-winning UK children’s brand Belle & Boo has signed a licensing deal with US-based Michael Miller Fabrics. Four collections each year will be distributed via the American firm, making Belle & Boo’s fabrics available to the $4.2 billion quilting market.

The collections will be marketed as “Belle & Boo Out to Play” and will complement international online sales of the brand’s organic cotton fabrics via

The first in the series, called “Seaside and Sandcastles”, will enter stores in spring 2023. Featuring the eponymous Belle, a sweet little girl who is never seen without her bunny friend Boo, it aims to bring to mind a trip to the beach. Including hand-drawn illustrations of children playing and building sandcastles by the sea, it will be the perfect fabric for all summer craft projects.

Established in 2008, Belle & Boo was originally known for its whimsical children’s books featuring the childhood duo. Its enchanting world now extends to unique children’s room décor including a huge choice of fabrics that evoke Enid Blyton and vintage illustration.

The Belle & Boo characters encapsulate a childhood of simple pleasures: sloshing in puddles, crunching through leaves, fluttering kites, tiny tea parties, blowing dandelion clocks, and building sandcastles.

Michael Miller is a New York City based fabric specialist that aims to offer beautiful designs and inspire creativity. Founded in 1999 by Michael Steiner and Kathy Miller, it distributes via stores and online throughout the US.

Kate Shafe, co-founder and managing director of Belle & Boo, says: “It’s a world of friendship and fun, balloons and rainbows, princesses, knights and mermaids. It was created to spark imaginations, ignite dreams and allow children to be children. The first collection reflects this, conjuring the feel of sand between your toes while you sew with this beautiful collection of seaside-inspired designs.”

Shari Goldenberg, marketing manager at Michael Miller Fabrics, adds: “We’re excited about bringing a series of beautiful Belle & Boo fabrics worldwide. The first, Seaside and Sandcastles, is an adorably sweet 100% cotton collection that will launch in January 2023 for wholesale customers and will be shipping to stores Spring 2023.”

Urban Outfitters launches in-store Smiley experience

Urban Outfitters is launching a Europe wide in-store experience from today, 4 April, as part of its collaboration with Smiley, which has been celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2022.

As part of the unique campaign, Urban Outfitters has created an immersive pop-up room environment for consumers in London, Manchester, Amsterdam, Milan, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Glasgow and Antwerp.

The pop-up includes products featuring the Smiley logo reimagined by Paris-based Swedish graffiti artist Andre Saraiva, who customised over 50 products as part of a collector’s edition stretching across clothing, accessories, technology and more.

Shoppers can expect to find key products featured in the store such as iets frans … x Smiley + 50th Anniversary collector’s editions.

Streetwear and activewear brands include Champion, Eastpak, New Era and Happy Socks, while Loki and Ciate provide fashion and beauty products. Neon signage brand Yellowpop will also be available, as will Sunny Life, known for its inflatable swimming pool lines.

Within the Manchester and Oxford Circus stores, consumers can engage with and create social content with an infinity mirror, while the changing rooms feature Smiley’s ‘Take the Time to Smile’ slogan.

Find out more on the Urban Outfitters website.

Funko opens its first international franchise store in Dubai

Funko has announced that it has appointed Monkey Distribution as the first franchise operator catering to growing pop culture enthusiasts and Funko Funatics in the Middle East. The store, to be owned and operated by Monkey Distribution, is located in the newly constructed Dubai Hills Mall and is expected to open on April 2, 2022.

“The opening of Funko’s first franchise location in the metropolitan city of Dubai is a significant step in expanding our channel network outside of the United States,” says Andy Oddie, Managing Director, Funko EMEA. “The growth we are experiencing across the world is clearly indicative of the extraordinary demand for our products. By introducing stores outside of the U.S., we are creating a unique shopping destination for Funko fans and pop culture enthusiasts.”

As pop culture permeates across the globe, Funko fans and collectors will now have a must-see destination in the United Arab Emirates. The new store at Dubai Hills Mall will offer visitors the opportunity to experience Funko products, including Pop!, GOLD, Loungefly and Funko Games.

“Pop culture enthusiasts are passionate about their fandom and seek ways to incorporate them into their daily lives,” says Rajeev Babu, General Manager, Emaar Malls. “The new Funko store in Dubai Hills Mall will be a prized destination for fans from the region and around the world.”

Tom Felton fronts campaign for CASETiFY’s Wizarding World-inspired collection

CASETiFY has announced a special partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, revealing a collection inspired by the beloved Wizarding World. The launch is supported by a marketing campaign starring Tom Felton, who played the infamous Draco Malfoy in the films.

Fans all over the world can sign up now for priority access to shop the collection on launch day, March 31, by visiting

Available online and in CASETiFY stores, the new protective phone cases are inspired by iconic early Hogwarts experiences, including Harry’s first interaction with the Mirror of Erised (available exclusively on the CASETiFY Co-Lab app), his very first broomstick, and his epic battle with the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets. Fans can discover their house with the new Leather Case lineup, featuring the house colours and crests of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

The partnership will also introduce CASETiFY’s first Lenticular Case – engineered to capture the magical qualities of the wizarding world through “moving photos.” When tilted from side to side, the new Lenticular Case will reveal the Marauder’s Map to its owner.

Designs will be available on a range of CASETiFY’s signature styles, with custom options made for the ultra-durable Impact Case series, Reflective-Plate Material Cases, Compostable Cases, and the Impact Crush series from the sustainable Re/CASETiFY Collection, retailing for $40 USD and up.

Phone cases are compatible with a range of iPhone device sizes, including the newest iPhone 13 series, as well as select Samsung models.

“The Harry Potter series holds a special place in so many of our hearts, and we’re excited to bring the magic to our community’s hands with a uniquely creative collection of high-quality accessories,” says CASETiFY CEO and Co-founder, Wes Ng. “This collection will spark memories of all your favorite Harry Potter adventures with designs that are nothing short of magical.”

To complement the exclusive phone case collection, fans can shop a full accessory lineup with matching gear for all their devices, including Apple Watches, AirPods and AirPods Pro.

Modelled after the fastest and smallest ball in the game of Quidditch, customers can enjoy a highly designed 3D Golden Snitch Airpods Case, complete with the inscription “I Open At The Close.”

To dress every student’s tech in full house colours, fans can also shop a limited-edition collection of classic AirPods cases and Apple Watch bands, in addition to the new Beaded Phone Strap, a trendy hands-free accessory decorated with house colours and mascot charms.

Accessories in the collection are available in limited quantities and retail for $35 USD and up.

To learn more about the collection and all CASETiFY Co-Lab launches, visit online and download the new CASETiFY Co-Lab app (available now in the App Store).

For updates on all things CASETiFY, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

Brand Licensing Europe and Licensing International launch Brand Licensing Retailers’ Academy

The all-new Brand Licensing Retailers’ Academy is a series of six masterclasses specifically designed for experienced retailer professionals.  The year-round programme, developed by licensing industry experts Brand Licensing Europe and Licensing International, will feature leading licensing executives sharing their expertise, including how licensing drives enhanced customer engagement, key consumer insights behind licensed product purchase intent, and exclusive access to the data behind emerging industry trends.

The series will kick off with an in-person half-day event in central London on 12 May.

The BLRA programme, which includes a membership to Licensing International, is exclusively for retailers but space is limited, and participants are encouraged to enrol now.

“We are excited to launch this complimentary masterclass series developed specifically for senior retail professionals. Licensing International is rooted in retail and merchandising, and these classes are a natural extension,” says Maura Regan, president of Licensing International.

“This joint programme with Licensing International builds on our commitment to engage with retailers year-round and support them as they continue to develop their licensing expertise,” adds Anna Knight, SVP of Licensing, Informa Markets. “It is the perfect complement to our Retail Mentoring Programme, and we’re excited to further enhance our roster of opportunities for retailers to engage with the world of brand licensing.”

Interested retailers can register here.

Louis Kennedy launches DTC platform to raise money for good causes

Louis Kennedy has launched a direct-to-consumer online platform for ethically produced licensed collectables, with proceeds going to good causes.

Blu Goblin will offer premium limited-edition, exclusively licensed collectible models, replicas, figures and art across the worlds of entertainment, sport and gaming, with each collection having been created to celebrate a specific event, anniversary, launch or major milestone.

The first collection, now live, is a range of five framed prints inspired by the highly successful 2021/2 exhibition, Tokyo: Art and Photography, supporting the work of the Ashmolean Museum.

The selection of prints covers a wide range of Japanese themes from classic cherry blossom and Geishas to architecture, transport and caricature. Limited to just 250 per design, they are printed on the world’s first acid-free digital fine art paper made from 90% bamboo and 10% cotton fibres, a natural and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional paper. The handmade gallery frames are FSC certified and made from solid wood from sustainable sources, with no veneers, MDF, or any other type of reconstituted materials.

Declan McCarthy, Head of Publishing and Licensing at the Ashmolean, says: “The Ashmolean is delighted to be working with Start Licensing and Blu Goblin, to be part of the launch of this exciting initiative. We are very proud of these limited edition prints, not only because they are beautifully crafted and ethically sourced, but that they will help to support our work and mission.”

Blu Goblin was born as a direct result of two pilot programmes instigated by Louis Kennedy during the lockdown in 2020, the first being Thank You Baked Potato. Sold exclusively online from a dedicated eCommerce page with a three-week pre-sale window, and with promotion via Matt Lucas’ own PR channels and Twitter feed, proceeds went to Feed NHS.

The second programme was a collaboration with BBC Children in Need and BBC Studios. A collection of seven limited-edition Pudsey bears sold exclusively direct-to-consumer on BBC CiN’s website, with promotion via BBC CiN Digital Channels. All proceeds went to BBC Children in Need.

Grant Morgan, CEO of Louis Kennedy, says: “The world has changed dramatically, as have consumer habits. Brands must now demonstrate that they care and stand for more than just profit. Consumers want the brands they love to commit to positive social and environmental impact, to make a meaningful contribution to the quality of their lives, while also helping others. Charitable causes benefit from perfectly matched brand partnerships which bring PR, donor acquisition and most importantly funds to deliver their services.”

Tracey Richardson, Director of Partnerships and Licensing at Louis Kennedy, adds: “The Licensing Industry has been extremely enthusiastic and supportive of Blu Goblin, especially considering that when I first started discussions back in the spring, the platform didn’t even have a name! The opportunity to create new products which add another dimension to the planned celebrations and demonstrate support for a cause close to the heart of the brand, were all reasons we’ve been able to deliver such a wonderful range of campaigns.”

Aiming to create a vibrant social following while building a rich user database, Blu Goblin will segment and deliver relevant messaging to a growing community of committed collectable enthusiasts, a plethora of fans of licensed brands, as well as an increasing base of existing Blu Goblin fans. Dynamic remarketing to these audiences, with information about current and future cross-sell collectable campaigns, will make Blu Goblin the ‘go to’ platform for limited edition, framed art, models, figures and figurines.

Coming Soon campaigns include the Beano and Dennis, Bullseye and Danger Mouse. Every Blu Goblin drop will be unique and availability will be strictly limited, through



Brand Licensing Europe opens applications for its Retail Mentoring Programme

Retailers are being invited to apply for a delegate place on Brand Licensing Europe’s popular Retail Mentoring Programme (RMP).

Applications are open now until Friday 22 April 2022.

The free-to-attend, CPD-accredited course is delivered through a series of seminars, workshops and 1-2-1 consultancy sessions between May and September 2022. It is now in its 12th year and boasts hundreds of alumni from the likes of Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Selfridges, Halfords, Asda George, Ann Summers, River Island, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Toymaster, The Entertainer and Morrisons.

RMP delegates also benefit from:

  • Insight from best-in-class retailers, agents and brand owners on how successful licensing partnerships are delivered across a range of categories from apparel to homeware
  • Practical insights into building robust, timely and commercially viable licensing programmes
  • Understanding critical legal, technical, financial and licensing terminology
  • An invitation to join Li, an introduction to all of the key aspects of the licensing industry
  • Licensor sessions where retail delegates spend a day with leading brands to better understand what goes into a successful licensing partnership
  • Brand discovery sessions – find out who owns what brands and how to build relationships
  • Visual merchandising workshops – learn how to make consumer products stand-out online and in-store
  • Introductions to leading licensors and agents representing a huge range of the world’s most popular and well-known brands
  • Invitations to networking and social events within the licensing industry

Anna Knight, VP of Licensing, Informa Markets, says: “In theory, brand licensing, and the opportunities it offers to retailers, is a really simple proposition. In reality, it can be quite a complex business to get under the skin of. Through the BLE RMP, we help European retailers to better understand our business and provide them with the information and introductions they need to successfully introduce or expand their store’s licensing programme.

“Licensing means retailers can introduce branded consumer products onto store shelves, attracting more customers and increasing margins. It also means retailers can consider turning their own brand into a license, allowing it to expand into different product categories and demographics; something which Ted Baker, for example, has achieved successfully with accessories and health and beauty.”

To take part, retailers are asked to sign up on the BLE website and fill out the form or contact Keith Pashley on for more info.