Line Friends Takes on the World

The popular, Asia-based app will open its first official store in the U.S. this July in New York City's Time Square.

Line Friends is continuing to broaden its global presence as well as its product offerings through an expanding network of licensing partners, agents, retail activations and more.

Originally launched as a series of sticker characters for the mobile messenger application "Line" in 2011, Line Friends quickly expanded into a worldwide character brand and began licensing in Japan in 2012. Since then, the company has made a host of deals in countries such as China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In 2015, "Line" established the Line Friends Corporation in order to improve its value as a character brand.

Today, Line Friends boasts 73 stores worldwide that carry a variety of products ranging from apparel to stationery to cosmetics and more. Line Friends' permanent brick-and-mortar locations can be found throughout Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The company is set to open its first official store in the U.S. this July in New York City's Times Square.

The character brand has also hosted a number of pop-up retail locations across the globe, including in the U.S., Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Colombia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

In addition to its permanent and pop-up locations, Line Friends merchandise can also be found in specialty stores, convenient stores, drug stores and hypermarkets.

Recent collaborations for the brand include a partnership with Samsung Electronics, which saw the launch of Line Friends-branded accessories for Galaxy devices in 15 countries across Asia. Another partnership with McDonald's China saw a series of promotions for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Other companies that have launched products–ranging from fashion to beauty and homewares to foods–featuring Line Friends include: Brompton, Lamy, L'Occitane en Provence, Thermos, Vans, Mr Maria, Moleskine, AIAIAI, Muurla, Swarovski, Uniqlo, Gustavsberg, Bearbrick, BookBinders Design, Arabia and Rivers Drinkware, among many others. The company is also seeking new opportunities across categories such as artificial intelligence and information technology.

Additionally, Line Friends has partnered with design label PushButton to launch its own fashion brand, called PLF (pushButton x Line Friends). The new clothing collection is expected to roll out to the global market this year, including at the company's upcoming New York flagship.

The company has also brought on a raft of licensing agents to expand its worldwide reach. Agents that have signed on to represent Line Friends include Haven in Australia and New Zealand; Exim Colombia in Central America; and Animation International in South East Asia, including Taiwan and Hong Kong. Line Friends is also currently in contact with other agencies to expand its business into Europe and North America.

"With Line Friends' ceaseless dedication to quality and experience, we work with other brands that will both shape and accentuate our characters' unique personalities and also attain an aura of uniqueness and distinctiveness that other character brands do not have," says Sowon Jon, head of licensing, Line Friends. "With our own philosophy for collaboration and licensing, we proudly present the outstanding portfolios of our licensing business and are working on seeking new partners who we can work with in synergy."

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