Disney opens upscale store, marketing modern Mickey

The happiest place on Earth is looking to become the hippest.

Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday was opening a new upscale boutique in Southern California aimed at customers wanting contemporary modern fashions adorned with traditional Disney characters.

The new store, called Disney Vault 28, is a departure from the company's Disney Store chain, which peddled mass produced goods often tied to the latest animated movie release. More than half of those stores were closed in 2004, and the last 313 shops were sold to the Children's Place.

Vault 28, a reference to 1928, the year Mickey debuted in the cartoon "Steamboat Willie," will sell fashions from celebrity-favored designers and carry lines called Kingdom Couture and DV28, whose clothing depicts classic characters including Mickey, Tinkerbell, Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat.

"We can change the theme as trends change," said Mary Murray, Disneyland Resort's director of merchandise and specialized business. "We're going to be able to react."

T-shirts at the high-end store will sell for upwards of $60 and a pair of jeans cost about $200. Cashmere throws carry a price tag of $540. Those prices compare to the touristy Mickey Mouse T-shirts that go for anywhere from $20 to $50.

"This is the only one of its kind," said Marianne Sharpe, Disneyland Resort's vice president of merchandise and store operations. "We constantly hear from our guests that they want something contemporary. They wanted products that were not readily available in many areas."

This isn't Disney's first foray into the high fashion world.

Disney has sold vintage and couture since 2004, mostly in trendy stores like Kitson and Fred Segal. But the company didn't feel those lines were capturing teens and women.

"Disney is trying to achieve a store with a difference," said analyst Kurt Barnard, president of Retail Forecasting. "They may ultimately turn out to be right. The American public is being besieged with stores that all carry what? The same thing."

The company also has been trying to reinvent Mickey Mouse and its other characters as trendy and urban. Miss Piggy modeled for a British fashion magazine in a Prada dress last year, when Disney relaunched the Muppets. In 2004, Dolce & Gabbana featured runway models in Mickey T-shirts.

The new store is at Downtown Disney, a collection of shops and restaurants between the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks in Anaheim.


Leave a Reply