At the occasion of the BLE, Licensing Magazine had the pleasure to interview Mathieu Galante, Licensing Director EMEA at The Pokémon Company International to learn more about the importance of Fashion for this global leading entertainment group.
Pokémon is seeing a big expansion in fashion. What’s behind that?
As a leading global entertainment brand, Pokémon has a fan base like no other – straddling cultural and geographical boundaries, as well as generations. To reflect this the franchise covers multiple pillars, from video games to mobile apps, the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG), animation/movies, Play! Pokémon competitive events and licensed products. A brand that can reinvent itself while still embracing its heritage, Pokémon is always looking to connect with its audience in new and diverse ways, as well as attracting new fans, and fashion provides a perfect opportunity to do that. With the brand’s huge, wide-ranging appeal, we can offer an amazing array of quality apparel and accessories across all budgets and styles so there really is something for everyone.
What makes Pokémon a great fit for fashion?
Having celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, Pokémon offers a huge and rich heritage that provides endless inspiration for designers. Its widespread popularity and constantly evolving world of iconic, much-loved characters lends itself well to trend-led collections, while its strong design is colourful, bold and instantly recognisable.
As well as being hugely popular with children Pokémon has massive cult and retro appeal, which allows us to really develop and diversify our fashion spread to cater for every age and gender – and also across different markets where tastes, trends and requirements can vary significantly.
Our broad global appeal and reputation for innovation attracts a wide range of high-calibre partners, from high street to designer, mixing affordable products at mass alongside aspirational lines with cutting-edge collaborators and luxury partnerships. Over the years we’ve produced ground-breaking fashion collaborations spanning apparel, footwear and accessories for both adults and kids. These creative partnerships and collaborations add to the buzz around each collection, ensuring we keep elevating our brand while keeping it relevant to new demographics such as millennials, Gen Z etc.
What do you look for in your collaborations?
We strive to create exceptional and covetable collaborations with must-have appeal. We don’t want to saturate the market so prefer to work with limited number of quality partners – ones who understand our brand and will produce something true to its ethos. We are constantly looking for brands who have a standout presence in their fields, who offer quality, creativity, fun, wearability, sustainability and innovation, and who can connect with our fans of all ages.
We work with respected partners across high-street and high-end fashion and our many successful collaborations include: Balmain, Longchamp, Jeremy Scott, GCDS, Axel Arigato, Bobby Abley, Charli Cohen, Iceberg, Levi’s, Adidas, Converse, Criminal Damage, Geox, Clarks, Irregular Choice, H&M, Zara, Bershka, Pull&Bear, Uniqlo, Zavvi and ASOS.
What’s next for Pokémon in the fashion arena?
Pokémon has become a true fashion icon over recent years and we want to build on this success with yet more innovative and exciting collaborations and experiences in the future. But we know that these days having a great collection is not enough – consumers increasingly expect to be entertained and inspired when they interact with their favourite style brands. So all our collaborations need to tell a story that will speak to our fans and keep them engaged and enthused.
We’re always looking to excite them through destination events in store or by pushing the boundaries with ecommerce. For example, we enjoyed sensational success with our first foray into the metaverse last October for the Charli Cohen x Pokémon collection. We created an innovative virtual store, the cyberpunk digital world of Electric/City, which gave exclusive access to the collection and was complemented in the IRL world of Selfridges London with a two-week showcase in a dynamic space with fun activities.
We are also keen to promote sustainable and ethical values in our partnerships as consumers become more socially responsible in their choices. The Charli Cohen x Pokémon collection was created in sustainable technical fabrics such as recycled ocean plastics and organic cotton, while our recent collaboration with Axel Arigato featured organic cotton, leather from Gold Standard tanneries, recycled PET bottles and recycled plastic. Our latest Uniqlo ‘Pokémon as art’ collaboration was designed by Japanese artist duo magma utilising a disparate collection of waste objects.
Pokémon has always been about innovation and evolution, and that philosophy will direct our activity in the future as we continue to set trends, expand into new areas as they open up and find bold new ways to harness technology and connect with existing and new fans.