We find out how the Korean fashion brand is beginning to make its mark in the UK, thanks to 4Kids.
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Project 109 launched Chicaloca in Korea in 2005 and internationally the following year. The brand is meant to represent an independent, sexy and chic attitude which embodies the mindset and lifestyle of the modern urban woman, according to 4Kids which has the licensing rights for the UK, France and Belgium.

In its home territory of Korea, Chicaloca is a huge hit – there are three stores in Seoul and the brand was the face of the Samsung Kenox Digital Camera in 2005 - and the ultimate aim is to replicate this in the 14 other countries it is now present in. It’s already starting to make headway: in China, for example, a line of i-mini laptops sold out within three days of launch.

“The appeal of the brand is its striking graphics and the great depth and diversity of the style guide, which covers numerous styles, such as Ibiza style, Boho Chic, Rock, Glamour and more,” explains Sandra Arcan, senior manager, apparel, gifts and home furnishings at 4Kids. “We felt that amongst the various art-based offerings for the 16-25 demographic, this one really stood out from the crowd.”

The Chicaloca programme was launched in the UK at Brand Licensing Europe last year as part of 4Kids’ 4Sight Licensing Solutions portfolio, with Joystick Junkies already on board for fashion tops. Product will be launching shortly and the firm is anticipating apparel and accessories being among its strongest categories. Next targets for the UK are bags, footwear, fashion accessories, stationery, health and beauty, gifts and mobile/MP3 accessories. Several of these categories have already been successful in other territories: for example, in the first week of Chicaloca’s brand shop opening in Korean social networking site Cyworld, sales among digital items such as blog back screens were very strong, with up to 200,000 downloads a month.

“The diversity of the style guide makes Chicaloca a very appealing proposition for all young women, whatever their individual style,” says Arcan. “This also allows us to tailor collections to the various fashion retailers, identifying relevant ‘looks’ from the art bank to suit their customer base. This means the brand will not be interpreted and presented in the same way all over the High Street, which will keep it fresh.

“In addition, the licensor is regularly updating the style guide with new images based on current trends and we work with them to create concept boards that capture those trends.”

Of course, fashion is a competitive and fast moving sector, and Arcan admits that growing awareness and demand for Chicaloca during this early stage is very challenging. “It’s about finding those first few licensees that are particularly keen on the look of the brand, have a gap in their portfolio for the target demographic and are willing to give it a try,” she says. “We feel it’s important not to rush this and have identified partners that we would like to work with on building the brand – Joystick Junkies being one of them. We hope this first licence will start the ball rolling and we will use marketing activities in fashion magazines and the trade press to slowly, but surely, increase demand.

“In five years’ time we hope that Chicaloca will be a well-known and much sought after brand that is carried by the key fashion retailers, department stores and gift retailers,” Arcan continues. “With the benefit of sustained visibility, we would like to see one or two appropriate collaborations with other fashion brands, designers or fashion schools.”

We should also expect 4Kids to be doing more of this style of licensing in the future, broadening its portfolio even further. “It presents a very different challenge – this type of brand needs a different approach, strategy and set of contacts than existing 4Kids/4Sight properties,” Arcan concludes.


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