Marks & Spencer has struck a deal with the Victoria & Albert Museum which will result in it becoming the first chain store to create a range of goods based on the museum’s world-renowned design archives.
The aim is to create a V&A design collection into which new products including fashion – lingerie and hosiery – and toiletries can be introduced on a rolling basis. The range will be launched in August and extended into other areas in the autumn.
It is the first time that M&S has joined forces with an outside body to create a collection of licensed merchandise, which will be displayed in stores under the “V&A Collection” banner. The collection will be available in stores in Europe, as well as the UK.
“To get this kind of cross merchandising throughout different departments is very difficult indeed,” says Ken Mannering, head of marketing and licensing at V&A Enterprises.
“M&S is without doubt the best retailer in the world, and as we are both British institutions we are a perfect match.”
The partnership was initiated by Sally Smith, the design director of textiles group Coats Viyella, one of M&S’s major suppliers, says Mannering.
The V&A claims to be the world’s finest museum for decorative arts and design, and has established an international licensing business, called Inspiring Design, worth about 90m in retail sales through 90 international licensing partners. Licensee manufacturers create products endorsed with the V&A logo.
The V&A says this is the first time any museum has created a partnership with a retailer on this scale. Its existing partnerships with licensed manufacturers include Fired Earth for its collection of historic paints, Osborne & Little for its wallpaper collection and International Silver, one of the US’s leading silver and tableware companies.