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Mob Ties and Cement Shoes

Mob Ties and Cement ShoesA Tufts graduate is bringing the fashions of HBO’s hit show "The Sopranos” to a department store near you. New York City.

Boston [04.24.03] If Richard Oren has his way, the number of Americans with mob ties will experience a dramatic increase this summer. The 1988 Tufts graduate isn't promoting organized crime - just the wardrobe of its most popular figureheads. Beginning in May, Oren and HBO properties will unveil a new "Sopranos" clothing line designed to tap into the huge popularity of the hit show.

"The ‘Sopranos' menswear line will hit Macy's in mid-May, beginning with an ‘Executive' neckwear collection and followed by ‘Bada Bing' ties, named after the show's strip club," reported The Boston Globe. "...Oren, director of licensing at HBO Properties, says the clothes are only loosely based on the ‘Sopranos' male characters' wardrobes, which are classically tacky in a suburban New Jersey kind of way."

But don't expect to find Tony Soprano's velour jogging suits.

"It's not about trying to replicate what people see on the show or to dress like Tony [Soprano] or the other characters," the Tufts graduate told the Globe. "It's trying to capture the essence of the brand and bring it to the menswear category. They're not exact replicas."

It's a concept that has worked well in the past - from Jerry Garcia ties to a menswear line inspired by Regis Philbin's clothing on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"

"The ‘Millionaire' was part of the conversation at the beginning: The whole Regis thing certainly comes to mind, but that was extremely limited," Oren told the Globe. "It was based on one look."

Unlike the "Millionaire"-inspired monochrome shirts and ties, the "Sopranos" line will include a lot more variety.

"HBO, which struck the licensing deal with Zanzara International, a Florida-based men's apparel company, is also making ‘The Sopranos' dress shirts, sportswear and knit tops," reported the Globe. "The collection may feature pants by next spring. Boxer shorts are also in development. And another manufacturer already makes white terrycloth bathrobes under the 'Sopranos' name."

With more than 10 million viewers tuning in to watch "The Sopranos," Oren and HBO say the potential market for the clothing is significant.

"Fans of the show, we hope, are going to gravitate towards this because they love the show and want to be a part of it," the Tufts graduate told the Globe. "But the menswear will be classic, high-quality clothing. Men [ages] 25-49 are our core demographic."

The clothing line is the latest in a series of products based on the HBO series.

A cookbook and a gourmet food line were launched in late 2002. "HBO offers about 50 different products online," reported the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "The list does not include Tony's cherished cigars, though Oren says more than one cigar makers wanted to do business with the cable channel."

The choices about spin-off products are made very carefully, he said.

"I think there may be some bootleg "Sopranos" cigars out there, but we're not getting into that area," Oren told the Journal-Sentinel. "We've made the decision not to associate the show with tobacco products."


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