For a company still in its infancy, Inno-Wear has certainly packed a lot in since it was formed in November 2006. Its philosophy is to ‘take an active part in the development of the video games industry’ and it has already carved a niche in the branded apparel sector, with over 50 video games licences in its catalogue.
Founded by Guillaume Gout, Arelien Palasse and Innelec Multimedia (a European video game wholesale and distribution business), the Inno-Wear team currently consists of nine, with plans to expand this to 15 in a year. It has three labels – Himmersion, Kiddi-Play and Best Price – plus a service, Goodies.
Himmersion is positioned as a high-end fashion label – aiming to be the “battle flag for a generation bathed in video games, their codes, references and history” according to the directors. Collections for this summer will include Xbox 360, Gears of War, Trackmania, Devil May Cry and Another World, with the catalogue currently made up of t-shirts, sweatshirts and beach towels. Products in development include bags, headwear and underwear.
Kiddi-Play, meanwhile, is aimed at children aged three to 12 and is a more traditional licensing brand using characters from video games; Best Price is a consumer-grade budget t-shirt collection, again focusing on major licences such as Tomb Raider, Unreal Tournament, Sonic, Resident Evil and Hitman. Lines are renewed monthly to keep up with current popular games; and, finally, Goodies specialises in unique one-off licensing activity, with the firm being able to design bespoke products to tie in with the likes of marketing campaigns and corporate gifts.
“The first year has been dedicated to setting up the foundations of our business; we established our licence and product catalogues and hired our core team, as well as signed our first distribution agreements,” Gout and Palasse explain to Licensing.biz.
Going forward the company is in the process of setting down roots in Europe, with expansion into the US being planned for 2010. The Best Price and Kiddi-Play ranges are already in the works for launch in the UK, with the firm saying the territory is top of its list.
How does the firm choose which video games licences to turn into apparel? Apparently it’s all down to instinct, say Gout and Palasse: “Appeal of the game, its quality, whether it’s a ‘staple’ or a new fame, all play [a part] in the choice. There are hundreds of games released every year, but the licensable ones when it comes to textile development amount to maybe five per cent. The next step, which brand to develop with the licence, then depends. Kiddi-Play is more about character identification potential, Himmersion licences have to have a cult quality about them and Best Price works mostly with new releases.
“We are establishing partnerships with specialised distributors throughout Europe for all our brands, and are working to reach 3,000 sales points by the end of 2008.”
Both Gout and Palasse seem to be confident about the future. The company is unique in the market in choosing video games as its specialty and it is keen to keep up the quality of its products. “Quality defines Himmersion, but it is also very important to Kiddi-Play and Best Price. Specifically, we stand out with a creative design process, a qualitative fabric selection and attention to detail in production; this is how our brands stand out within the licensing market.
“On the other hand, Himmersion works beyond traditional licensing to break into the fashion scene as a label in its own right. So our competition here is not found in licensing, but rather in fashion. Our vision for Himmersion: being stocked at Urban Outfitters and Selfridges alongside Diesel, Bench and other streetwear luminaries.”
Lofty ambitions, but the positive vibes from Gout and Palasse certainly make you believe that anything is possible for this company.