We sat down with Lauren Sizeland, head of business development and licensing at the V&A to learn more about the licensing arm of this leading museum of art and design.
What is the appeal of the V&A brand? Why has it stood the test of time?
Lauren Sizeland: As an internationally renowned institution with an in-depth understanding of art and design and regular international activity, the V&A has a very different proposition to offer the licensing industry. The Museum has extensive archives and regular exhibits to stimulate product development and a breath-taking destination to visit in South Kensington. With over 2.3 million objects, including 19 national collections, the V&A is the UK's leading public resource for study and inspiration. From Balenciaga to Bowie, Mackintosh to McQueen, the Exotic to the British, the V&A’s collections and exhibitions celebrate the great heritage of design and making in Britain and around the world.
Tell us about the Papier collection launched last April.
Sizeland: Papier has an innovative approach to stationery and the high product quality, which makes it a great fit for the V&A. Together, we launched a unique & beautiful collection, whilst enabling the customer to personalise products with their individual message or event. It is a really exciting new direction for us. The unique range of over 100 customisable products includes stationery, notebooks and wedding invitations and is available exclusively at papier.com.
The V&A’s collections and exhibitions celebrate the great heritage of design and making in Britain and around the world.
Lauren Sizeland, V&A
The fashion line with People Tree has got a lot of press coverage. What makes this collection stand out?
Sizeland: The AW17 collection with People Tree has been well received with features in Elle, The Guardian and The Observer. What really makes the range stands out is that it was inspired by the romance of our upcoming exhibition Ocean Liners: Speed & Style, which will open in February 2018. The designers loved the idea of fashion and lifestyle on board. The golden age of ocean liners in the 1920s and 30s is inextricably linked with the Art Deco style which swept through all spheres of design, from fashion and entertainment to interior design and architecture.
We are proud to be working with a company with such a strong ecological ethos. People Tree has transformed the ethical fashion world with its range of contemporary, accessible, and desirable apparel. They were the first integrated supply chain for organic cotton from farm to final product. Building on the People Tree’s reputation as a pioneer in sustainable fashion, this capsule collection is made by women in Mumbai with the aim to provide jobs and financial independence
Tell us about the John Lewis series?
Sizeland: The V&A inspired, John Lewis designed series is comprised of 17 stunning pieces across lighting, furniture, textiles and decorative accessories. We are delighted to be working with John Lewis, another great British brand. The designers have taken inspiration from across the breadth of our rich and vast resources and the range is very well conceived, incorporating traditional crafts and technology showing great depth and real innovation. The resulting products are really very special.
What did winning the Best Art and Design Brand award at LIMA mean to the V&A team?
Sizeland: The V&A Licensing team are delighted to have been recognised for our licensing achievements. We provide a tailor-made research and design development service, helping to identify relevant designs and ensuring they are aligned with forthcoming trends. It is important for us to celebrate the authenticity of the Museum’s objects and we take every opportunity to tell unique stories to really engage with consumers, which sets us apart from many other brands without such rich heritage. Our attention to detail ensures the creation and promotion of all our products upholds the exacting standards and values of the brand and the strong relationships we have built over many years, decades in some cases, with our licensees gives us the reassurance that we continue on the right track. Although it is a tremendous effort, it is continually rewarding to maintain this ongoing success in licensing and receiving this prestigious industry award really is the icing on the cake!
Are there any new categories V&A will be looking to expand into in 2018?
Sizeland: The V&A plans to explore new categories for products as well as new territories. With 2018 on the horizon, our major focus will be on the Asian market. We are already in conversation with a yoga apparel manufacturer and will soon launch a range of umbrellas and parasols in Japan, both categories are new for us – I am always open-minded and keen to explore potential new opportunities. We are looking forward to making valuable connections at Brand Licensing Europe and encourage anyone who would like to find out more about the V&A licensing programme to visit us at stand K10.