Change in the Teen Fashion Weather

Jun 12, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Oh those fickle kids.

According to Reuters, wide leg pants and midriff baring tops are out and tighter jeans with longer and looser tops are in.

“Fashion is usually a three-year cycle, but this is a major one — it’s a silhouette change that happens only every 10 years,” said Christine Chen, an analyst with Pacific Growth Equities.

The sudden change in the way the fashion wind is blowing means that retailers are now in a race to get the new look in stores before their competitors.

Those who are slow to get the new fashions in stores may “miss the boat and be sunk,” said Mark Montagna, an analyst with CL king & Associates.

Ms. Chen said kids will want to be wearing the latest and greatest when school starts in the fall. “Newness in fashion is always good and in the near term, it’s really good for the teen retailers. It gets the teens to shop,” she said.

Kurt Barnard of the Retail Forecasting Group, however, offered this caution to retailers. “Teen customers belong to a certain breed which is completely unpredictable,” he said “Today you may find a company that is wallowing in sales and tomorrow those very same customers won’t remember a store exists.”

Moderator’s Comment: Of the stores serving teen consumers, which ones do the best job of staying up with the shifts in the fashion and other retail markets?
How do they accomplish this from an operational, as well as the standpoints of design and marketing?

George Anderson – Moderator

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4 Comments on "Change in the Teen Fashion Weather"

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Don Delzell
Don Delzell
14 years 8 months ago
The sad fact is that, over time, no one has done a consistently excellent job in anticipating trends and offering product appropriately. Many have 2 – 4 year “runs” where the current crop of merchants or designers have a synchronistic alignment with the popular psyche. But it’s personality and individual based, and non-sustainable. The Limited has a trend testing process, with rapid response manufacturing in place to take advantage of, and it still fails to consistently hit the trends right. H&M, with its fast turnaround, low prices, and rapid response is another example. Again, they don’t have a great batting average either. The simple fact is that teen trends are almost impossible to anticipate, and “creating” them is much, much, much harder than it used to be. The clutter, competition and variety in information sources for teens makes single point sources of trends a thing of the past. Musicians? Models? Movie stars? TV shows? Trend celebrities? Designers? MySpace? In a Utopian world, a teen fashion chain dependent upon private label would invest heavily in mechanisms… Read more »
Carol Spieckerman
14 years 8 months ago

I see the tide turning a bit…while fast is key, it is quickly becoming a core strength commodity as formerly-clunky retailers such as J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart open New York design operations and shave months off of the design-to-floor timeline with their own fast-fashion brands. I predict that fast will become the base line in short order. What will replace it? Different. May not sound radical, however, the new crop of teen lifestyle mega-brands (Hilary Duff comes to mind) are planning their apparel and accessory lines around differentiation and longevity…creating unique looks that make a statement that is true to each brand rather than dumbing down or younging down looks that everyone else will be interpreting for the season. Beyond this, each sub-brand will be differentiated by-retailer and by-age in order to facilitate multi-channel/multi-tier placement. The new world of tween marketing will be sophisticated and targeted, not just fast.

Stephan Kouzomis
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 8 months ago

Well, it must be time to spur retail sales up. All the niche stores are selling the current styles, as is. Note: retailers selling to teens is going bananas. No mention of changing styles. Oh, unless you are referring to adults. Hmmmmmmmm

Mark Lilien
14 years 8 months ago

Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale are the most profitable sales leaders, given their size, in the teen market. Both companies have strength that other retailers can only dream about. Let’s see if Abercrombie and Aeropostale are as strong in 2010 as they were in 2005.


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