It’s a Darwinian world in the apparel universe as juniors manufacturers and retailers try to elbow aside the competition for oxygen in the form of sales, which are in free fall. Apparel sales for women ages 13 to 17 fell 6.4 percent to $36.2 billion from December 2007 through November 2008 compared with the same period a year prior, according to The NPD Group.
The dismal drumbeat of headlines heralding the closure of retailers including California-based Mervyns and Tennessee-based Goody’s Family Clothing Inc. are prompting clothing lines to rewrite their game plans to stay afloat. Nowhere is the urgency more evident than at WWDMAGIC, where a number of juniors manufacturers are bracing themselves — some more optimistically than others — for the challenging environment.
Orna Stark, president of Jem Sportswear, maker of Awake and licensed fare from Disney, Peanuts and “The Wizard of Oz,” said, “Our expectations are that budgets will be cut back and many of the large stores aren’t coming, and it’s really more of a specialty store business. “
Show officials report that as of late January, 25,000 retailers were confirmed in pre-registration, and that representatives from major retailers such as Target, Macy’s and Nordstrom will be in attendance. Chris DeMoulin, president of MAGIC International and executive vice president of the Advanstar Fashion Group, concedes that the event is making a concerted effort to attract retailers.
“We’ve developed an aggressive outreach campaign geared to retailers through advertising, direct marketing” and the personal efforts of the organization’s retail relations teams, he said in an e-mail.
Even so, juniors manufacturers aren’t taking chances. They’re casting a wider net to maximize sales. Jem Sportswear is reaching out to new customers and has solidified distribution deals with Lane Bryant and Nordstrom Girls. It’s also partnering with retailers for exclusive programs, including Kitson, a retail haunt of the rich and famous, promoting “Twilight”-inspired apparel with plans to host a party in conjunction with the movie’s DVD release.
Spreegirl is looking to court an international customer, including buyers from Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and the Middle East.
“We plan to do trade shows there this year,” said Vinh Luong, director of sales and marketing for Spreegirl. “We can no longer depend on the United States customer.”
The dire economic environment and the worrisome prospect of leftover inventory have helped manufacturers zero in on their fashion strategy.
“The key is to focus on what’s working,” said David Vered, president of YMI Jeans, which sells to 5,000 stores nationwide including Dillard’s, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney. “Cut out the experimental stuff. Capitalize on what’s proven and do it even better.”
For YMI, that means concentrating on the fit of the jeans and making it appealing in all varieties from skinny to flare.
At Honeydew Intimates, creative director Benny Zafrani said the company has pruned its stockkeeping units for spring by 33 percent compared to its fall lineup.
“We are taking the best-selling bodies and making them even more successful, offering more colors and fabrics and designing around the style to create other successful garments that can merchandise together,” Zafrani said.
In customers’ favor, manufacturers are holding prices steady while upping the value quotient. They’re creating product loaded with bells and whistles, such as providing blouses with scarves and denim jeans with belts.
“Prices aren’t going up,” said Kathy Bradley-Riley, senior vice president of merchandising for New York-based Doneger Group. “Manufacturers are giving her more. There’s one hanger with more things. They’re combining apparel and accessories.”
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews