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PacSun inks exclusive link with Modern Amusement

August 25, 2010 |  3:00 pm

Anaheim-based Pacific Sunwear (PacSun) has signed a licensing deal to become the exclusive licensee of the currently dormant Modern Amusement surf- and street-inspired lifestyle brand through the end of 2013.

According to a press release issued by PacSun on Wednesday, the 880-store retail chain will be the sole source of Modern Amusement's men's and women's apparel, footwear and accessories for the next several Pacsunlogo years, with an option to extend the agreement for an additional seven years.

It could be a big win-win for both parties; helping the struggling retailer, which recently reported its eighth straight quarterly loss, differentiate itself in the marketplace, and reviving a once-promising brand with heritage and crossover cache but that unexpectedly shuttered in January.

If you've lost track of Modern Amusement, with its prep-surf aesthetic, bold color palette and  crow silhouette logo, you can be forgiven.

Founded by surfer Jeff Yokoyama (a co-founder of Maui & Sons who later went on to create the Generic Youth label) in 1995, Modern Amusement has been buffeted about like a beach ball on the crashing waves for the better part of a decade.

Mossimo Giannuli, namesake founder of the Mossimo label (now distributed exclusively through Target), Logo had purchased Modern Amusement from Yokoyama in March 2004 for about $375,000, and then bought the label a second time in October 2006 for $4.8 million -- as part of the deal that sold his  namesake company to Iconix Brand Group.

The brand had initial success growing beyond its roots as a men's surf-flavored line, moving beyond the beach and into Southern California-flavored contemporary sportswear, and added a women's collection in 2008. And then there were brand collaborations that put the crow logo on Sperry footwear and U-Boat watches.

Modern grew up-market too, finding its way onto the shelves of Nordstrom, Barneys New York stateside and Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in the U.K. There was even a Modern Amusement shop-in-shop at Fred Segal Santa Monica for awhile.

In December 2008, Giannuli signed a five-year master licensing agreement with Costa Mesa-based Blk Brd LLC, to manufacture and distribute the label, but, according to industry trade publication WWD, that firm's founder and chief executive abruptly departed in November, and the label ceased operations altogether in January.

The deal announced Tuesday was between Pacific Sunwear and Modern Amusement's parent company Dirty Bird Productions.

Although neither Giannuli nor Pacific Sunwear president and chief executive Gary H. Schoenfeld could be immediately reached for comment, in a prepared statement, Schoenfeld shared what made the exclusive multiyear deal appealing.

"We believe that the addition of the Modern Amusement brand will enable us to bring an added dimension to our stores through the vision of one of the leaders of Southern California surf and street fashion over the past 25 years," Schoenfeld said.

"When I joined PacSun last summer, I spoke of the importance of reestablishing our leadership position with our heritage brands, strategically complemented by our own proprietary brands. A smaller yet important third part of our product mix would tie to PacSun once again being a destination for emerging brands. Modern Amusement has become a very coveted emerging brand over the past few years and with its Southern California heritage, this is a very exciting opportunity to further differentiate PacSun as a leader in lifestyle and fashion among 15-24 year olds."

-- Adam Tschorn

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