Events | Highlights


7 May - 2024

Tags from the story: Licensing Expo, Products of Change.

Products of Change (POC) is committed to working with its partners to bring high quality content and products to the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. Here’s a preview of what you’ll find at the POC booth (S226).

Building the Change

Licensing is going through a period of transformation and the tone of Las Vegas Licensing Expo this year has been set with an intentional eye on the future. When the announcement was made towards the end of 2023 that this year’s Las Vegas Licensing Expo was to explore the theme Brands at Play, Products of Change understood the assignment. And it starts with just one brick.

At the tail end of March this year, the United Nations finally set an official date in the diary for the first ever International Day of Play. With formal recognition from the UN, specialists across the globe stand shoulder to shoulder in the protection of every child’s right to play. And unsurprisingly, the LEGO Group stands among them.

Recent research surveying more than 25,000 children from across 36 countries reveals that 75% of young people don’t believe adults take play – and how it helps them learn – seriously enough. This is the drum the LEGO Group has beaten solidly for the last 17 years, ever since the launch of Build the Change.

A global, non-profit sustainability education programme now funded by the LEGO Foundation, Build the Change is the LEGO Group’s acknowledgement that the brain learns best through play. Last year, it reached over 2 million children.

“It’s about listening to kids, getting their ideas on how to solve real world problems, and then amplifying that message,” says Anders Juul, senior global programme manager at the LEGO Group. “Through Build the Change, we can encourage communication, creative thinking, and collaboration. Meanwhile, as a big brand, we have the power to knock on doors and really amplify children’s voices.”

In 2021, for example, the LEGO Group played an active role in Glasgow’s COP26 climate conference by presenting its Build the Change campaign to dignitaries and representatives.

Detailed within was not only the LEGO Group’s manifesto to empower children but the demands and expectations of children today from those currently shaping their future. As such, Build the Change has become the forum for the youngest generation to speak their minds about sustainability.

At the time of going to print, the LEGO Group was preparing to attend the fourth round of Intergovernmental Negotiations by Committee in Ottawa, Canada as part of the United Nation’s endeavour to draw up a Global Plastics Treaty and provide a legally binding text on the world’s approach to the plastic pollution crisis.

Changing systems from within

It will take more than one scribe to rewrite the future and Smiley’s Future Positive is working to change the brand licensing industry from within. Corresponding with its partnership with the United Nations to deliver UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: responsible production and consumption, Future Positive is about striking balance.

It’s an initiative that demands more of consumer products by bringing together future-thinking brands to curate a collection of more responsible products and a ten-year plan to positively and sustainably transform 100% of Smiley’s licensing portfolio.

“Consumer goods are an absolute necessity to the livelihoods of billions of people. They create our cultures,” says Nicolas Loufrani, CEO at the Smiley Company. “But the problems we create are enormous. We must absolutely change the way we produce and recycle everything.”

Future Positive already works with partners across fashion and apparel, bags, books, greetings cards, gifts and home products, and beverages. The plan, however, is to extend its ethos across all the product categories Smiley currently spans.

“There has been great reaction to the movement, and we have only had positive comments,” says Nicolas. “But this is going to require massive efforts and investments to transform into concrete actions by licensees and retailers. I always tell everyone that progress beats perfection, and I celebrate our progress.”

Transparent with the truth

With word out that Chinti + Parker has partnered with the technology provider, Fabacus to pilot its Digital Product Passport across a collection of Peanuts apparel, so the licensing industry got its first taste of the future of fashion.

And, with the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive now approved in European Parliament, requirement of all textile producers to provide digital product passports will begin as early as 2026.

Described as digital product identifiers that “log the end-to-end lifecycle and journey information” (encompassing materials and manufacturing processes used; supply chain partners; and the environmental implications of a product) Digital Product Passports are tools enabling consumers to make more informed decisions about the products they buy.

“And in line with the Brands at Play theme of this year’s Licensing Expo, we want to re-frame Digital Product Passports as not only being an emerging regulatory requirement, but also an innovative business opportunity,” says Jonathan Baker, CCO at Fabacus.

Last summer, Fabacus partnered with the responsible fashion brand, Nobody’s Child to launch its first iteration of the Digital Product Passport, disclosing circular product information including product carbon and water footprints in line with the developing EU regulations.

“DPPs represent more than a mandated short-term brand legislation,” says Jonathan. “They signify long-term opportunities to connect with audiences and will play a pivotal role in extending the life of a product, creating value within the circular economy, for example, by integrating digital links to pre-loved platforms and how to repair and recycle the product.”

A new lease of life… and licensing

With the adoption of the EU’s CSDDD comes with it a new law that will ban producers from destroying unsold clothing by 2026. As such, end-of-product-life processes are going to become a hot topic of the apparel sector’s boardrooms.

At the end of March 2024, Mark Litos, the co-founder of Refried Apparel rescued 50,000 pairs of denim jeans from going up in flames. An overseas mass retailer had over-ordered on their stock for that season and was looking for a means to ditch its ‘waste’.

Refried Apparel, a Massachusetts textiles expert bringing skilled seamstress work and apparel manufacturing back to the USA, fields calls like this nearly every day. As one of the country’s most prestigious fashion upcycling businesses, Refried Apparel sees the value in waste. Deadstock, damages, failed designs on garments, over orders, and glitches in systems are resources to be treasured, used, and sold back to retail in the shape of unique, one-off pieces, all at a premium.

“Giving items of unsalable clothing a new, upcycled, up-market, and unique lease of life just captures everyone’s attention,” says Mark. “We operate on the dead stock we can get our hands on. So, it’s about being flexible and the brands we work with understanding our non-traditional processes and methods. And the brands we work with today? They have been amazing. They really see the benefit of what we do.”

Today, Refried Apparel works in licensed and non-licensed goods with resorts, professional sports brands (including the MLB, NFL, NHL, and others), even corporate brands. With a team of home-grown, skilled creative talent, the Refried Apparel appeal has spread like wildfire across the scene.

Curated by Robert Hutchins, Editor at Products of Change

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