Disguise signs licensing deal for Disney brands in EMEA

The global costume company has signed a multi-year deal with Disney for a wide range of Disney brands, commencing in spring 2022. Partyworldwide.net interviewed president and general manager, Tara Hefter, to find out more.

Having been a North America partner for over 30 years, Disguise is now poised to have a large and robust offering with its portfolio of Disney brand costumes in EMEA for the first time.

The deal covers many different characters, sizes and offerings for all age ranges and will also leverage Jakks’ expertise in every day dress-up and their toy line of feature costumes and accessories, including singing and light up dresses, dress up trunks, and toyetic role-play accessories.

Ahead of the news being released, Partyworldwide.net caught up with Tara Hefter, Disguise president and gm, to find out more…

Partyworldwide.net: Congratulations on the new partnership. What does the new deal mean for Disguise’s business?

“Thank you! We are all extremely excited about our new partnership with Disney EMEA. Disney and Pixar brands collectively are the largest licensed portfolio within costumes and dress-up, so it is a significant win for Disguise. Growing internationally is a top priority for the company and this new partnership means that it will open doors for the division that may not have been there in the past with our existing licence portfolio.

“Now retailers want to buy Disney from us, and while they are at it, they will also look to expand with additional Disguise licenses. Of course, a massive licence like Disney requires a full staff so the licence acquisition also allows us to grow our staff in a very meaningful way.”


Why do you think Disney chose Disguise as its EMEA licensee? What sets the business apart from other costume licensees?

“I think Disney EMEA has always looked at what we do in the US and wanted to replicate that in Europe, but international growth wasn’t a focus for Disguise until I joined as the general manager in 2019. In the US, Disguise has held the Disney Halloween costume licence for over 30 years, and our parent company, JAKKS, has had the every day Princess dress up and role play business for over 15 years, but we were always eyeing the soft goods business in Europe to complete the offering.

“Now, we can fully maximise both businesses as a whole, and we will have greater economies of scale to supply more variety of product to Europe than ever before. We can ensure all Disney licences are represented because we are developing them globally whereas in the past the development was done specifically for international so I would imagine the MOQs were not there.

“I also think Disney saw the true, genuine passion and commitment we have for wanting to expand in Europe. We know Disney well (I used to work at DCP in the US and Disguise was one of my licensees) so we speak Disney’s language from design to approvals to country meetings to forecasting, etc.

“One other point of difference for Disguise is that we have an unique plan for Amazon via a distribution partnership with Morph Costumes that began back in 2019.  Morph has a strategic approach to Amazon to maximise buyability and discoverability with optimised listings and targeted marketing. So essentially Disney has three companies in one, determined to maximise the dress up business – Disguise, JAKKS and Morph Costumes.”


Do you have a plan for how you will roll out the extensive portfolio of brands?

“That’s the beauty of having an existing portfolio of Disney and Pixar costumes dating back for 30 years. We were awarded the licence really late in our production timeline so to start we have adapted our US range to European aesthetics and standards.

“We will be launching with nearly 200 SKUs of the biggest brands and then will be rolling in new brands each year along with new bespoke product.   If the licence were awarded to a company who never made Disney costumes in the past, there’s no way that company would have been able to start from scratch and be up and running in 12 months like we did.”


What are the key launches planned for 2022 and beyond?

“Key launches will involve Disney Princess, Frozen, Toy Story, Incredibles, Nightmare Before Christmas, Mickey/Minnie, Tinker Bell, Avatar and more. Disguise was the first to develop licensed adaptive costumes and wheelchair wraps with Shop Disney in 2020 and we have an expanded line that will launch in Europe in 2022. Our Funko co-branded masks will also be launching with Disney styles in EMEA next year.”


What are the marketing plans for the Disney and Pixar ranges?

“We plan to use trade marketing to let the industry know of our Disney offering and digital marketing to target consumers online and in store. On the digital side, we leverage social and digital retail campaigns to gain impressions and drive sales conversion, with Morph focusing on important Amazon marketing and optimisation. We will also use tools via Jakks for cross-sell on our Jakks toy packages, tags on commercials and other cross-company support.


Are you expecting the Disney offering to enable you to expand your retail portfolio in the territory?

“Absolutely, Disney is a “foot in the door”. The phones are already ringing from buyers eager to set us up as a vendor for their stores, which will help grow the Disney business but also our many other brands that we have in EMEA such as Hasbro brands, Nintendo, Minecraft, LEGO and more. We now have an apparel-focused Disguise team on the ground in the UK and other key countries with existing retailer relationships and that means exponential growth for Disguise.”

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