Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 50
VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM
through the museum's doors. "It's just a
beautiful location to visit," she says.
Sources of Inspiration
The V&A began its licensing program
in the 1990s, and several of its licensees have worked with the museum
for the past two decades, Lauren
Sizeland says. "We work in many
different categories across the program, through interiors, furnishings
and beddings [to] housewares and
kitchen textiles," she says.
The V&A continually looks at
different parts of its archive and
how it can package its contents
in ways that are relevant. For
example, the museum has
drawn from textiles for
its licensed products, as well as
"That includes a variety of
social and fashion photography," Sizeland notes.
Not surprisingly, the
V&A takes great care in choosing licensees. "We're looking for companies that have good, quality manufacturing capability," Sizeland says,
noting design capability is essential.
"The scale of how patterns are applied
to our products is really important."
The licensees also have to be willing to
collaborate. "It always helps if they have
some experience of licensing in the past,"
Sizeland says. "They understand that
they can't go off and do their own thing."
This requires a close relationship
between the two parties. "We work with
them on a custom design basis to meet
their objectives for their products and
their ranges," she says. "But we also need
to retain the integrity of the original
object or piece from the archive that's
The V&A's licensing team, Sizeland adds, has experience developing those kinds of relationships with
licensees in Japan and the United States,
whose representatives have visited the
museum. "Having that flexibility and
that capacity to come to the V&A from
time to time is important," she says.
The V&A is close to the release of
a line of licensed paints from Master
Paintmakers, of Stratford-upon-Avon,
U.K. "We've been working [on it] for
almost three years," Sizeland says.
"We're very excited about that because
it launches in April."
The development process has been
demanding. "It's taken us a long time
to perfect the palette we've chosen," she
adds. "The paint has gone through a
very robust and rigorous quality checking [process] and blind testing."
The paint also represents a departure
for the V&A. "It is probably one of
the few projects where it's not about
pattern, but it's about color," she says. "It
has been very unusual for us."
But the hard work has paid off. "We
know from the blind test that it's the
highest-quality domestic and interior
paint in the market," Sizeland says.
Highlights from the 40-strong
color palette will include Reuben
Red, a rich Victorian red echoing colors used in Victorian soft
furnishings and named after Reuben Townroe, who worked on
architectural decorations for the
museum. Owen's Teal is a rich
sea-green, taken from designer
Owen Jones's original decorations for the museum's early
Indian, Chinese and
2017's ontrend color
take reference from the
original designs for
the museum," Calver
says, noting that V&A is
fortunate to have those designs in its
archives. "Once you visit the museum,
you realize it's a work of art in itself."
The V&A also looks forward to the
introduction of several quilting fabrics
from Moda Fabrics/United Notions,
based in Dallas, Texas. "We're launching
a range of William Morris designs at the
Quilting Expo in May [in St. Louis],"
Sizeland says, noting that it will introduce
40 SKUs made from high-quality cotton.
"They're just very beautiful and the
color coordination is excellent," she
adds. "The V&A is very keen to encourage handicraft and handmade things,
and this is a good example of that."
Sharing the Archive
Sizeland and Calver are proud of how
the V&A has improved its relationships
with licensees over the last five years. In
the past, it was challenging for licensees