Retailer Seeks Hit With 'Dragon Tattoo' Clothing Line

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" has been a blockbuster book for Swedish author Stieg Larsson that's sold more than 60 million copies in 48 countries worldwide.

Sony now hopes its motion picture based on the book will be a global blockbuster as well when it's in theaters Dec. 21.

But can fictional character Lisbeth Salander sell clothes? Swedish specialty retailer Hennes & Maurtiz (H&M) is banking on it.

According to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA), licensed products are a $180 billion a year retail market, and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" film costume designer Trish Summerville is adding her "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" inspired clothing to the mix.

H&M and Summerville have partnered to design and sell the exclusive — and limited — collection, available for purchase starting today in 100 H&M stores around the world and in some markets through the retailers' website.

The collection features 30 pieces of apparel that, like the character Lisbeth Salander, are "edgy" — in mostly dark colors and tough fabrics. Some of the collections more signature pieces include leather jackets, torn jeans and lace up boots.

According to Marty Brochstein, senior vice president for LIMA, thinks the collection is a great move for all involved.

"For H&M it makes them part of the conversation and for the film, it gives them lots of exposure that is really very valuable for Sony." H&M isn't the first retailer to employ this strategy to create an exclusive clothing line.

Gap's Banana Republic recently launched a "Mad Men" line, with clothing inspired by the Emmy-winning AMC series.

Analysts agree the vintage-inspired looks have actually helped to bring a freshness to the Banana Republic brand, bringing the retailer into the foreground and in association with an entertainment success story.

Brochstein notes the collection itself isn't going to pull in blockbuster profits for H&M, but that doesn't mean its a bad move for the brand and sees little downside.

"It ties into the emotions of the H&M shopper and makes them a part of the conversation," he said. "It's not about being lucrative in the short term for this particular deal, it's about the ongoing marketing position for the chain."

H&M operates in the highly competitive specialty retail sector, and while it's stock price has struggled so far in 2011, down nearly 6 percent year to date, the last three months have seen a 14 percent run-up while the S&P Retail Index has fallen 0.2 percent in the same time period.

Many analysts look to H&M as one of the retailers taking share from Gap brands among others, but the holidays can make or break a retailer and consumers' impression of its offerings.

H&M's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" line follows its hugely successful limited collection with designer Donatella Versace that sold out within minutes in stores around the globe.

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