In my mind, the Disney brand conjures images of children’s characters and animated movies.  Of course there is more to the brand than nostalgia but the company is looking to expand their reach even farther with high-end retail.  A New York Times article, “Disney, by Design,” author Brooks Barnes, discusses the goal of Disney to become a “lifestyle brand.”

The company has introduced Disney cashmere sweaters, $2,800 leather chairs, $6,000 chandeliers, and even $3,900 wedding dresses, some items featuring the characters themselves and others tying to the Disney brand with only the label.

In the New York Times article, Donna Sheridan, vice president and general manager of Disney Consumer Products, said “I want people to have pieces that adults, designers, and tastemakers can all wear and put into their homes.”  The company wants people to think of Disney as more of a J.Crew than a family fun factory.

With Disney facing a decline in earnings and the theme park bookings down considerably, it is not particularly intuitive for the company to pursue the already struggling retail industry.  However, by providing products across a wide range of prices and target markets, and items not plastered with animated characters, Disney may be able to gain market share.  The brand has plans to introduce Bloc28 (a collaboration with street artists and graf writers), couture fashion, as well as four lines of bedding that include no images of Disney characters for Wal-Mart stores.

What do you think about Disney's move? Disney is one of the most powerful brands in the world but only time will tell whether the company can alter consumer expectations and gain acceptance among fashionistas and the general public.

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