Netflix and Shonda Rhimes Bring Bridgerton to Life with Fashion Collaborations

When Shonda Rhimes’ steamy Regency-era drama, Bridgerton, hit Netflix, it became an instant hit, surpassing other popular ones before it like The Queen’s Gambit and The Witcher. Now, it is looking to make its mark in the world of fashion, where it already had an impact with regards to the inspired trends it birthed after its debut.

In 2017, Netflix and Shondaland – the TV production company behind the hit show – signed a production pact, that, among other things, included plans to explore branding and merchandise deals. What that strategy looks like is beginning to emerge.

Cast from the Netflix drama by Shonda Rhimes, Bridgerton
Since it debuted, Bridgerton has inspired fashion trends. Now, it is creating its own fashion. Image courtesy of Variety

Shondaland and Netflix recently announced that they were teaming up with luxury footwear label Malone Souliers on a Bridgerton-inspired collection of shoes and accessories to coincide with the release of the show’s second season next year.

It follows a surprise drop of Bridgerton-themed Nap Dresses from lifestyle brand Hill House Home, released in collaboration with creative agency Phenomenal. The latter has stocked a line of Bridgerton-themed sweatshirts and tops since February. This special edition trio of the cult dresses sold out “in a matter of minutes,” according to the brand.

Ellie Floral Lavender Nap Dress inspired by Bridgerton
The Ellie Floral Lavender Nap Dress from Hill House Home was designed in collaboration with Netflix and based on the drama. Image courtesy of Fashionista

More tie-ups with fashion brands are on the cards in the future, said Chris DiIorio, chief strategy and business development officer at Shondaland. The opportunity to pursue fashion and merchandise partnerships linked to Bridgerton “was something that stuck out from the beginning,” he said.

For fashion brands, TV and cinema have long been powerful marketing vehicles, with brands boosting awareness and driving sales via product placements and licensing deals. For instance, Tom Ford dressed Daniel Craig in Bond films like Spectre and sold a collection inspired by the wardrobe back in 2016. In fact, Shondaland has previously collaborated with online clothing retailer, The Limited, on a collection inspired by its hit ABC show Scandal in 2014.

But the way people interact with traditional media channels has changed, especially for the younger generation of fashion consumers. That’s opening up opportunities for new kinds of partnerships in a shifting media landscape.

James Bond -inspired look by Tom Ford
A look from the James Bond-inspired wardrobe by Tom Ford. Image courtesy of Tom Ford

“They [consumers] used to read physical magazines and newspapers. They used to go to the movies, but movie theatres are going broke. They now spend inordinate amounts of time on social media, as well as on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and other streaming platforms,” Bernstein analyst Luca Solca wrote in a recent research note.

Luxury’s biggest mega-brands have yet to forge formal partnerships with streaming services like Netflix, but experts say that could change down the line as they continue to gain traction.

“Brands in the future will probably cooperate more with Netflix rather than other traditional mediums, simply because these series have got a number of viewers that is pretty massive,” said Mario Ortelli, managing partner at strategy and M&A advisory Ortelli & Co.

Shondaland is hoping partnerships like those with Hill House Home and Malone Souliers can help forge relationships with viewers that last long after they’ve finished streaming the series. “We’re trying to allow as many opportunities as possible for our audience to continue to consume the content and be part of that Bridgerton world, even once they’re done viewing the content on Netflix,” DiIorio said.

Netflix and Shonda Rhimes want viwers to consume the show through the fashion pieces long after it has ended
Netflix and Shonda Rhimes hope viewers will continue to consume the show long after it has ended through the fashion collabs. Image courtesy of Tripzilla

Malone Souliers will release its 15-piece collection of Bridgerton-inspired shoes and accessories alongside the debut of the show’s second season in 2022. Netflix and Shondaland will provide marketing support to promote the collaboration, said Malone Souliers’ founder and creative director, Mary Alice Malone.

The collection will span styles for men and women and will be sold via Malone Souliers’ own e-commerce site, as well as through the brand’s global network of wholesale partners.

Source: Business of Fashion

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