Bloomingdale's Goes All Popeye, Beetle Bailey


Well, blow me down: Bloomingdale's is extending two entirely different branches of military nostalgia this holiday season, featuring both Popeye the Sailor Man and Beetle Bailey on a line of clothing for men and boys.

The line, which includes everything from Camp Swampy sneakers to a Popeye pea coat, is the retailer's latest in an annual holiday tradition, focusing on iconic pop-culture characters, Kevin Harter, Bloomie's VP/fashion direction, explains to Marketing Daily.

"Fashion always dips back into past, but then gives it a modern perspective. Everyone enjoys pop culture -- like Warhol's Campbell Soup cans. People love nostalgia. And Beetle and Popeye resonate with a lot of customers, young and old," he says.

This the fourth year. "We started with the Beatles, and it did well. And with retail, if you do well once, you have to do even better numbers next year, so then we did DC Comics, which was huge hit for us. The following year we did Star Wars, also a big success. And this year, when King Features, owned by Hearst, came to us, we knew it would a good fit."



The 52-item line, designed by Darren Romanelli, known for his popular fashion brand Dr. Romanelli (DRx), features high-end apparel, accessories, toys and collectibles from such brands as Converse, Medicom, Psycho Bunny, Junk Food Clothing and Altru. While some, like t-shirts, wear the characters proudly, others are on the sly side, using graphics from the comic strips in the lining of the clothing. Prices range from $26 to $1785.

Marketing plans include windows for the characters at Bloomie's flagship, as well as its annual "New York Nights" events scheduled for 12 store locations around the country.

With items just rolling into stores, there's no word yet whether American males (and the women who shop for them) will prefer what King calls "the world's laziest private or the world's mightiest mariner." But in the early going, Harter says, "Popeye is already selling well. Boys like that toughness. He's a good guy. He's a good role model."

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