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Loungefly’s Liz DeSilva, VP of Creative, and Derrick Baca, VP of Business Development and Merchandising, are the minds behind the iconic mini-backpack line you see people wearing virtually everywhere, from conventions to theme parks to grocery stores. The versatility and imagery used on their products—including licensed franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, Amblin, and Stranger Things— has marked a new era of fandom fashion that goes beyond a black t-shirt with the logo slapped on it.
io9 recently caught up with the duo at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about Loungefly’s expansion as part of the Funko family (which now also includes Mondo) ahead of its holiday releases.
Sabina Graves, io9: Loungefly has been making moves with its signature brand of pop culture backpacks and recently with the addition of Stitch Shoppe. Can you tell us more about what’s next for the company in making fandom fashionable and more inclusive?
Derrick Baca: The biggest thing that we’re going to do in the future is really transition from just an accessory company to a lifestyle brand. As we are introducing Loungefly apparel, we have Stitch Shoppe apparel and Stitch Shoppe bags. We are going to be getting into many categories going forward. I would say in general [with] the female type of handbags, we’re going to go more unisex. So we are really going to take that “Funko fandom” of a fan of everything because we’ve been kind of niche.
Liz DeSilva: We want our fans to get to know the sizing and fit. So it’s really easy for them to just grab their hoodie, grab their tee, grab their dress—easy shopping.
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Baca: When we first joined the [Funko] company a couple of years back, inclusivity is a very, very important part overall of the Loungefly brand. We started Stitch Shoppe, which now has sizes from a small to 4x, and Loungefly apparel [which] is more of that unisex fit to size 3X .
DeSilva: It was the most heartbreaking thing for me to be at Disneyland and have fans come up and be like, “I love your mini backpacks, but they don’t fit me.” And I’m like, “That is unacceptable,” right? So the first thing we did is we sat with production design, we looked at all of our crossbody bags and mini backpack lengths. They have to fit everyone; we’re not making mini backpacks for a small group. We want our mini backpacks on everybody. So we’ve made that adjustment. And I think that’s one of the most important things that we’ve done is make all of our products inclusive. We have to make sure our backpacks fit all of our customers. So it’s just so important, we don’t want anyone to ever feel left out.
io9: Can you talk a bit more about partnerships since becoming part of Funko and now with Mondo on the way—will impact the synergy moving forward?
Liz DeSilva: So obviously, Mondo has been a part of the family for like five whole minutes and we’re so excited because obviously they’re uber creative. We were Mondo fans long before this acquisition. We’re going to get to connect with them and see like where it makes sense to, like, merge our teams and do some cool stuff. So while we don’t have anything to share right now, I think in the future you’ll see like obviously something like our Pop Loungefly bags, where we utilize Funko artwork and bring the Funko and Loungefly style together.
Baca: We do partner with Funko and we will do exclusive Pops that go with the bags. Those are super rare because a lot of times there’s only 3,000 to 4,000 units, where pops are usually a lot more units. So those are always like the first ones to go.
io9: That’s great, since the lifestyle stuff is expanding from accessories and going into clothing. Are we also thinking about home decor?
Baca: We’ve dabbled here in there with some blankets. We’ve dabbled in drinkware with, like, mugs.
DeSilva: You will start seeing this fall some new accessory categories that you don’t typically see at Loungefly. We are branching out and doing some loungefly.com exclusive pieces that are beyond a bag or backpack—which we’re excited about.
io9: How did your first fandoms influence your career paths?
Baca: My last name is Baca, I’m a large human. I’ve been called Chewbacca since I was a little kid. So Star Wars—and that got me big into comic books. I was a typical kid who was raised by the television. So all the Saturday morning cartoons, He-Man, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, all that stuff. I’ve been a part of the entertainment industry for about 25 years. So I was into the fashion of rave music, the bright neon colors—all that. I grew up in Utah so I would drive to Melrose to go to Red Balls and get all my rave gear. I walked into the retail store and the owner of the company actually just goes, “I love your look. You have to work here.” And so then I became a buyer for that company. And then I went and moved to Hot Topic. I kind of fell into it, but fandom was always what I was passionate about. You don’t want see our house [Baca and DeSilva are partners], our house is scary—it is literally a museum. We enable each other too much because we collect everything. It is a part of what we do as a lifestyle and so it’s easier for us to translate into products.
DeSilva: So for me, I grew up a huge Disney Princess fan; Snow White and Cinderella were my go-to girls—[but I also had an] obsession with Disney, not just princesses. And I’ve always loved illustrated books. When I graduated art school, I actually wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. I wanted to have my own fairy tales, my own characters. So I started working as a graphic artist for girls clothing companies, creating characters for their t-shirts and their dresses. I fell in love with the apparel industry.
I went back to night school to learn more about sewing and textiles and fashion illustration. And I think it’s that initial love of fairytales and the “happily ever after” moment that really drove me towards wanting to do that. I will say in terms of me as a creative and kind of becoming who I am: Lisa Frank [and the] amazing, colorful world she created—this beautiful, whimsical world that she created really, really inspired a lot of my early art. And so I was able to take my love of character illustration and translate it into apparel for all the people that love those stories.
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