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Want entertainment business to have 50% revenue share in 3 yrs
New York City-based Authentic Brands Group (ABG) is a brand development, marketing, and entertainment company that owns a global portfolio of entertainment and lifestyle brands. Its global portfolio spans the entertainment, luxe, fashion, street, and active lifestyle sectors. Founder and chairman Jamie Salter speaks to Fibre2Fashion about the company's expansion plans for the next few years and the new markets it is looking to explore.
What is the story behind formation of Authentic Brands?
We saw tremendous opportunities in brand ownership and licensing.What made our approach different from other licensing companies when we started ABG was our attention to storytelling through our products and commitment to authenticity.
The first celebrity brand we purchased was Marilyn Monroe. As one of the most recognisable woman in the world, Marilyn was a true influencer before the term even existed. She had a distinctive persona and a set of partnerships throughout her career and our team has worked tirelessly to maintain the authenticity of her brand while continuing her legacy. Today, Marilyn is the face of Chanel No 5 and has a full merchandising programme associated with her name, image and likeness that spans the fashion, beauty and entertainment spaces.
Another example is Muhammad Ali, an iconic athlete and activist who changed the world. He commands tremendous respect and we work very closely with his family. So we have the honour and the responsibility of telling his story through partnerships that we and Ali's wife Lonnie Ali feel he would be proud of.
How many brands and influencers are you currently collaborating with?
ABG has a digital platform called Winston, which powers many of our social media campaigns. Through Winston we collaborate with content creators, curators, and connectors to develop and share impactful content across our branded accounts. Our Winston network features over 2,000 content creators with a combined following of over 150 million.
What do you look for in a fashion/apparel brand before acquiring/buying the rights?
Typically, there are three things we consider when assessing a potential acquisition:
(1) Healthy margins, expense structure and sourcing costs
(2) Robust brand perception, loyalty and global recognition
(3) Room for both category and territory expansion.
While taking a look at the brands, we have welcomed to the portfolio, over the last three to four years, Aeropostale, Nautica, Nine West and Vince Camuto. You will notice that they are all iconic, trusted names with international relevance.
What are brands doing to stay relevant in the times of economic slowdown, trade wars and rise in sustainability and circular economy?
We are always exploring the different ways we can build authentic and compelling relationships with consumers, whether that is through digital content or special product collections. For example, Volcom, one of our most recent acquisitions, is engaging younger generations with new collections that are size-inclusive and feature sustainable materials. Examples are swimwear made from recycled waste material and clothing made with recycled plastic bottles.
Which international markets are you currently present in? Which new markets are you exploring?
We are active in a variety of markets and are working on expanding our presence in each one. We recently opened an office in Mexico City dedicated to generating growth opportunities in the region and another in Los Angeles to fortify and expand our entertainment business. In 2020, we will be opening offices in Europe to service Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and India.
What is ABG's in-house research and development (R&D) team currently researching?
A few months ago, we acquired Sports Illustrated, which will allow us to take storytelling to a whole new level. With Sports Illustrated, we are building an entertainment platform to adapt to the future of media consumption and, in the process, are discovering new ways to create shoppable experiences for our brands.
What are the various ways in which you market for brands?
Through marketing we build brand value and affinity with consumers. We believe that the best way to do that is through content. ABG's in-house team encompasses all aspects of the marketing process, which is centred around creative storytelling through brand campaigns, social media, influencer programmes, public relations (PR), events and experiences.
Another important aspect of marketing is collaborations. We partner with brands and content creators that help connect our brands with new audiences.Some of our most recent collaborations include Prince x Dave Grutman and Prince x Sean Wotherspoon, which coincided with the US Open. Volcom and Spyder are also driving relevance through partnerships with the US Free Ski and Snowboard teams. On the celebrity side, we recently launched a Marilyn Monroe apparel collaboration with Guess Korea.
Fibre2Fashion has a diverse global readership, and delivers unique, authoritative and relevant content. Drawing on the expertise and credibility that we have built over the years and contextualising them with our in-depth research studies, we produce authentic news, articles, reports, interviews and interactive explainers through the F2F Magazine and compendiums, among others, which help readers stay abreast with the industry trends.