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Cartoon Culture

FASHION ALERT: Bloomingdale’s trendy overpriced Popeye merch

I love Popeye cartoons as much as the next guy – maybe a little more than the next guy – but even I can’t afford the new clothing line now on sale at Bloomingdale’s. The store is promoting its new King Features Collection featuring designs using Popeye, Beetle Bailey, The Phantom and Hagar the Horrible at its stores this week. Popeye T-Shirts for $40 bucks, a pair of socks (left) is $45 and a Popeye scarf for $145? Blow that down! The department store even took out full page ads in major newspapers yesterday to hype its annual “New York Nights” event, taking place tonight at 6pm in stores in New York (including the Men’s Store on 59th street and Third Avenue in Manhattan) and Los Angeles (in Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica, and at The Beverly Center). “Attendees are invited from 6 to 8 p.m. to see the merchandise, which includes everything from T-shirts and overcoats to sneakers and toys. All of the merch will be available for purchase through the holiday season.” All of it way overpriced! In this economy, I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday (2016) for those Popeye socks at today.

  • Mr. James

    I’m amazed and speechless.

    As someone that deals with licensing partners everyday I can only imagine the sales pitch that went on to get this stuff placed. I’m also trying to see how these licenses were spun in an attempt to downplay the fact that newspaper sales/distribution are the worst they’ve been ever and the fact that Popeye is no longer syndicated and hasn’t been for many years. Sure a ton of people know who he is, and he is iconic but from a sales standpoint they would have a better chance to make sales with a fresher cartoon character. I’m not saying Spongebob, but at least someone that’s had some presence since the 80’s.

    The other down side to this is that Bloomingdale’s honestly thinks they will be able to sell these items for those ASTRONOMICAL prices! I can’t even imagine that those scarfs will sell when they mark them down to 50% off the day after Christmas!

    • Actually Popeye is still in syndication. The dailies are reruns of Bud Sagendorf’s run, but the Sundays are all-new, courtesy of Hy Eisman.

  • Aimee

    Wow. Way to take something made for the masses and turn it into hipster douchebaggery.

    • Snagglepuss

      Aw broe. I don’t think massive department stores are for hipsters. This IS for the masses. Just not the masses occupying Wall Street right now.

      • Aimee.

        No, the hipsters would totally find this ironic enough to buy into. What’s next? Rockabilly dresses with the Family Circus printed on them?

      • Funkybat

        I can totally see poodle skirts with Dolly or Thel on them….

  • cbat628

    That’s a lot of money for products that don’t even look that eye-catching. I like Popeye as well, but there’s no way I’m buying an $85.00 hat unless it was coupled with vintage Popeye cartoons.

  • Snagglepuss

    Stephen DeStefano’s Popeye art is always gorgeous. Even factory sewn onto a pair of overpriced socks, it looks charming. Does anyone know if he’s going to be doing Yoe’s comic book?

  • Expensive, sure, but not the first time… even for POPEYE.

    A couple of years ago, the Italian fashion brand Miss Sixty sold Olive Oyl t-shirts between $79 and $99 (which, I might add, were priced on the low end for Miss Sixty t-shirts). The shirt collection included three different tees.

  • It’s unfair to judge the cost of clothing without taking into consideration the place of manufacture. Sure $145 might be steep for a scarf of imported cashmire, but if the seamstresses are making a living wage in a first world country it’s the price we pay for maintaining a middle class.

    Of course, if it’s sweatshop labor at a nickel a week that’s an entirely different matter.

    • Jason H

      It’s sweatshop labor at a nickel a week. Because otherwise they would’ve advertised it was made in ‘Merica.

  • Russell H

    I yam likin’ the pitchers, but I yam disgustipated wit’ the prices.

  • Inkan1969

    This ain’t on the up and square….

  • Ryan Maxwell

    Check out the pea coat they’re offering. It’s the only part of the collection I’d be interested in. The price is overwhelming though

    • dbenson

      And it’s not even a Swee’pea coat.

  • joe

    You gotta love how someone who looks so moody is wearing a Popeye shirt.

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    I love my character tees but the several I have are from Wal-Mart, Zellers or thrift shops…..for a fraction of what they are trying to sell under the guise of somehow being hip and designer. And yeh, I’ve seen Popeye being sold elsewhere and I fail to see the difference….not that I will be in the States shopping at Bloomingdales any time soon.

    I say wait until January if interested. These, I bet, will be slashed.

  • How long before these end up discounted at Ross?

    • Funkybat

      When they do, I’m gonna snag a couple of shirts and hats…

      Seriously, Popeye as exclusive fashion icon? I suppose it could work, they must be thinking of how lots of young women wear Betty Boop gear. Popeye has been kind of out of the public eye for about 20 years, but like Felix and Betty Boop, he’s still “known.” It’s probably also a response to Disney’s “Urban wear” line, though to be honest I haven’t see too many people out in public wearing any of that, but maybe NorCal hipsters don’t want to look too much like SoCal Disney fans…

      • Chris Sobieniak

        This is more like something I would rather see being sold at a regular store like Penny’s or something personally, but I guess they had to be more exclusive here.

  • Mike


    (Hey, someone had to say it.)

  • I believe one should dress for success, and expensive cartoon attire fits the bill (or at least until the bill comes in the mail)

  • If we’re trying to appeal to the retro crowd, where are the Mark Trail denim jackets? Wouldn’t Katzenjammer Kids-style coats be in ironic fashion by now?

  • Tory

    I’m going to Steve & Barry’s, I could buy 8 novelty shirts, probably with Popeye for the price of one of these here.

    • Marco Polo

      Steve & Barry’s is no longer in business.

  • timmyelliot

    It looks like they are actively pursuing the upscale market with popeye merch, like Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana and Burger King.

    • Funkybat

      Thanks for the link. Makes sense that it’s the syndicate pursuing the upscale strategy, rather than Bloomies contacting them first with a proposal.

      Also, I find the following claim from King Features rather disingenuous:


      “The redoubtable sailor’s commercial success is by no means limited to spinach. He has his own Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits chain of 1,578 fast-food restaurants in 41 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 20 countries,”


      Talk about gilding the lily. Popeye’s Chicken was initially named after “Popeye Doyle” from “The French Connection.” It was after the chain took off that they then licensed the Segar characters. And while I fondly remember lots of “Popeye the Sailor” related stuff at the stores (such as Tiffany-esque stained glass hanging lamps!) in the early 80s, I can’t recall seeing anything related to the sailor or his pals at any of the chicken restaurants for over 20 years. If they still have the license from King Features, they certainly haven’t used it in a while.


      • Tory

        I know I saw one or two Popeye things at a Popeyes a few years ago, maybe in New Orleans, something left over from before.

        I do wonder though, maybe they are about to have another crossover promotion given that it was mentioned as being connected.

  • scott

    great window displays

  • Christopher Cook

    Belk’s has a terrific shirt of Popeye, Wimpy, Bluto and Swee’ Pea doing the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” crosswalk scene (drawn by DeStefano, natch), and it only runs about $15.

  • dbenson

    Ad inserts for KMart and the like usually list things like this under the heading “Licensed Apparel,” as if the general public is familiar with the concept of licensing and attaches more cache to products thus decorated (“But the drooling zombie on THIS one has a Viacom copyright!”).

    Then again, they could be right. I remember when it was embarrassing to have a metal lunchbox for a TV show that had been cancelled. And about ten years later, wishing I’d hung onto it for the nostalgia/irony value.

  • “Dress poor. Think rich.”–Andy Warhol.

    I’m with Andy (who was a pop culture icon if ever there was one).