At 88 years old, Mickey still hangs with the cool kids and has the cute girl by his side. In recent years, he’s been featured in the windows of Barneys, plastered across several Marc Jacobs’ collections and his likeness has styled tees and sweatshirts for Opening Ceremony. And he’s not slowing down.
This spring saw the launch of several accessory brand and designer collaborations featuring Mickey Mouse and his cohorts like Minnie, Alice in Wonderland, Tinker Bell and, yes, Disney’s darling princesses.
On the Mouse’s muster are handbag collections with Kate Spade, Danielle Nicole and Coach. Artists like James Banks, Stephen Dweck, Robert Clergerie, Carrie K. and Patricia Underwood created jewelry collections in honor of Alice Through the Looking Glass. That’s not to mention Disney’s own fashion and accessories lines, and the legions of fashion blogs dedicated to the House of Mouse.
With all these launches and hype surrounding them, one thing is clear this season: fashion and accessories have gone gaga over Disney.
But why the influx, as of late?
A look back shows us that Disney licenses and partnerships have been happening almost since Mickey hit the scene. Whiting & Davis, the 140-year old mesh fabric evening handbag collection, did a children’s collection in the early 1930’s featuring Mickey and Minnie on their painted enamel metal frames.
But today’s Mouse movement doesn’t cater to kids, it targets grown women with a magical flair for fashion. Pop Sugar did an in-depth analysis of the Disney phenomenon, finding that millennial women see emulating Disney characters as an escape from their everyday life mixed with a high voltage of nostalgia from their childhood.
These 20 to 30-something women grew up as little girls in the 1990’s, when Disney really hit its stride and the princesses were breaking from their traditional girl-gets-saved-by-prince mold and started to come into their own identities.
One such supporter of all-things Disney is Sara Krenger, whose three-year old blog Dressed in Disney features styles inspired by characters, echoes Pop Sugar’s theory. “Disney represents so much. Imagination, empowerment, inspiration, creativity, passion, friendship, love, being your best self for yourself & others,” says Krenger. “I also love the community that Disney creates. The magic that is found in the parks, the movies… My childhood was saturated with all aspects of Disney.”
With blogs like Krenger’s and the ever-popular tumblr Disney Bound resonating with millennial women, the demand is obviously there. And Disney loves the love, obliging it with more and more Mouse merchandise.
Lots of new collaborations are in the works and already being previewed, including one with Kenzo and even Ethan Allen.
According to Heather Laing-Obstbaum, Disney’s vice president of product development for softlines, they consider organic partnerships when looking at which designers and brands to work with. “We look for synergy with the brand, characters and/or stories. Whether that is attributes of the character’s personality; a similar color scheme or seasonal trends in the marketplace,” she says.
Whatever makes the Disney collab work, the bottom line is that the Disney train has left the magic castle and retailers, brands and bloggers should get on board.