Few companies have the licensing power of Disney, and in the coming years, its princess franchise will be a major focus.
Last winter, Disney celebrated the 80th anniversary of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and this year, “Mulan” turns 20. And while the company often partners with athletic brands to bring these characters to life, Heather Lynn Sanchez, Disney Consumer Products’ senior licensing manager, has taken a different route recently by entering the luxury fashion space with shoe designer Ruthie Davis. The two have partnered for a series of special collections inspired by Disney’s 11 princesses.
Snow White was the first to hit the market, and while the line is very exclusive, the shoes have already sold at presale and are offered at Ruthiedavis.com.
“This is the first generation who had truly grown up with Disney,” said Sanchez. “As an adult, you never lose that love for the characters — whether it’s ‘Star Wars’ or the Disney princesses. Young adults are still engaging with the content, so it’s continuing that story of whatever the movie is — like with ‘Black Panther’ or a classic.”
For Davis, teaming with Disney was a no-brainer.
“It’s great brand awareness,” she said. “These movie franchises and characters have huge followings. People grew up with these princesses, and they want the product. It’s a reason to buy. It excites people. This will help my regular line, and it will help me get a new customer.”
The Snow White release marks Davis’ third time working with a studio. She first teamed up with Universal for a “Minions”-inspired collab and with HSN for Disney’s live-action revival of “Beauty and the Beast.”
The latter partnership also included product from brands such as Supra and New Balance. With Supra, Sanchez noted, it was the first time the Disney Princess category offered men’s product. “That took us to new fashion places with a big blockbuster film,” she said.
Going forward, Disney sees great opportunity to expand its consumer base by teaming up with a wide variety of brands.
“When it comes to bringing two brands together, you have the character and the fans of the story, and then you have the brands’ fans. You gain a new set of consumers,” Sanchez said. “Finding that brand that fits that specific story is what I’m out there doing. There’s no collaboration that’s the same. Everything is different.”