I've been an avid customer of Mossimo, one of Target's (NYSE: TGT) most popular junior apparel lines, for as long as I can remember. Until a few weeks ago, I'd always assumed that the big-box retailer owned the brand. Then I stumbled upon Iconix Brand Group (Nasdaq: ICON).

Target actually licenses the Mossimo name from Iconix, which also owns a host of other brands I love to buy, from Candies to Rampage to London Fog. Companies with a product I understand and love are always a great place to start when I'm looking for profitable fresh ideas, so I decided to dig in a bit further.

Retail cake, without the guilt
Iconix's atypical business model -- buying just the brands, and licensing them out to established retailers -- offers the company the upside of a retail or manufacturing business, without the risks that come from, well, retailing or manufacturing.

The world's second-largest licensing company by sales after Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS), Iconix currently owns and licenses 17 well-known brands. Retailers assume responsibility for manufacturing branded products and bringing them to the shelves, while Iconix builds the brand's "gotta have it" factor. Iconix takes a cut for every sale of product sold under one of its brand names, without ever having to manufacture or carry one piece of inventory. Plus, thanks to its diversified brand portfolio, Iconix is much less dependent on the direction of the economy than a traditional retailer.

From luxury to mass market, Iconix has consumer brands for every economic climate. If the economy improves, eager shoppers will indulge in more of Iconix's Ed Hardy and Badgley Mischka brands at high-end retailer Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN). And if the economy limps along for longer than we had hoped? Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) will sell more of Iconix's Op brand, while Kohl's (NYSE: KSS) will see more Candies shoes and accessories fly off the shelves.

A legacy refreshed
Iconix's management aims to grow its portfolio of brands, and it's ready and willing to snap up great names. However, the company isn't just buying up brands aimlessly. Once it makes an acquisition, the company adds value with new marketing strategies, increased distribution to major retailers, and brand exposure for consumers outside the U.S. In particular, Iconix seeks brands that have recently underperformed their potential as a result of poor management.

Just last year, Iconix closed a deal that gave the company rights to the Peanuts brand (all things Charlie Brown and Snoopy). Iconix and the Charles Schultz estate paid $175 million for this legendary brand, with Iconix owning 80% and the estate the remainder. In 2009, the Peanuts brand generated $66 million in revenue for its previous owner, E.W Scripps (NYSE: SSP). Iconix will now be able to bring the Peanuts brand to the international marketplace and the company's 1,400 licensees.

The Peanuts acquisition also helps the company in its drive to grow sales internationally. The percentage of revenue coming from outside the U.S. grew from 14% in 2010 to an estimated 17% this year, and the company is aiming for 33%.

Iconix's success in the international marketplace will depend largely on management's ability to execute on its ambitious vision. CEO Neil Cole, brother of fashion maven Kenneth Cole, has been in place for nearly two decades and knows the industry well. Cole has a long history in the retail business, and has been with Iconix since founding the company in 1993.

Although I look for strong leadership in a business, Iconix's dependence on Cole could pose a risk if he were no longer available to run the business. I don't foresee that becoming a problem in the near future.

Foolish bottom line
If Iconix can continue on its current trajectory, getting on board with this growth company could be worth a lot of new clothes by my favorite Iconix brands. I'm going to need to do some more investigation, but for now this stock is staying my on watchlist – and it should be on yours, too. So just click here to add it your watchlist.

Elizabeth Moran doesn't own shares of any company mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wal-Mart. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Wal-Mart and Walt Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.