In an interview with Disney Parks Blog, Senior Merchandise Brand Manager Hardlines Kevin-Michael Lezotte revealed some of the influences behind the Vault Collection, which draws on the history of Walt Disney World merchandise to create new items. In addition, we got our first look at a new Loungefly crossbody bag inspired by a classic souvenir lunchbox starring the Country Bears. (The same lunchbox was paid homage to as part of this year’s D23 Gold Member gift.)
Q: Can you tell me what it was like designing the collection?
A: Where do I begin? My love of the Vault Collection literally started 35 years ago when I began my Disney career at EPCOT! I’ve always been a huge fan of the Disney brand, the amazing experiences we deliver in the theme parks around the world, and our incredible merchandise. Over two years ago, I was asked to be a member of our first task force to brainstorm the merchandise for the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary celebration. The small team I was a part of came up with the idea of reaching back into our merchandise history to “bring back” key souvenirs and inspire some new products. Hence, the Vault Collection.
Q: I absolutely love the retro look and feel. Can you describe the collection and the inspiration behind the magic?
A: The Vault Collection is made up of two main categories:
“Replica” – Looking to the 1970s for those key souvenirs we lovingly re-created for this celebration.
“Inspired By” – Taking cues from the retro art and styles over the decades, we’ve created a collection of modern and relevant items appealing to our guests today.
For me, the inspiration was our most fervent fans and collectors. I’m a huge fan and collector myself, and I know what it feels like to get something you love and didn’t think you’d ever find. These replica items will take some of our guests back to a time long ago when they were little and experienced the parks for the first time with their friends and family. Fun fact: A group of our team members went to the Walt Disney Archives to photograph many of the incredible souvenirs, and used those photos to help create some of the Vault Collection pieces you will see starting Oct. 1!
Q: There are so many great items coming for the 50th anniversary celebration, but I can’t wait to pick up the replica Minnie Mouse ears and Loungefly lunch box crossbody. They are so cute! K-M, what are your must-haves from the collection?
A: I love the retro items in the home décor assortment. The castle trinket tray and the classic “milk glass” mugs are so cool!
Q: I have to ask … do you have any favorites from the original items that the team replicated in the new Vault Collection?
A: There are too many to choose from, but here are two. First, the retro plastic Minnie headband. This was one of the first things I purchased myself in the late ’80s. I removed the bow and proudly wore the Mickey ears when visiting the parks, and I still have my original pair! Second, it’s a Vault Collection drop coming later. It’s inspired by the looks of the year I started working at Walt Disney World Resort.
The Vault Collection launches across Walt Disney World, including at Disney Springs, beginning October 1, with additional items debuting throughout “The World’s Most Magical Celebration.” Select items from the collection will also be available on ShopDisney.com.
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