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Coolness Factor

The top 12 footwear and apparel brands that teens consider to be the trendiest.

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Teens and trends go hand in hand, so brands that cater to this age group are naturally working around the clock to figure out how to market to them. What helps? A mixture of celebrity endorsements, innovative products and a memorable logo, for starters. As part of Piper Jaffray’s biannual “Taking Stock With Teens” study, teenagers nationwide were asked which apparel and footwear brands reigned supreme in terms of how trendy they were. Brands were rated on a scale of 1 to 5, “1” being the trendiest and “5” considered out of style. In addition, the study found teens continue to spend a significant amount of money on fashion (apparel, footwear and accessories), which represents 44 percent of the total teen budget for the spring 2007 season.

NIKE

Trendiness quotient: 2.08

The footwear giant is definitely on the right track, so to speak, with its teenage fan base. In May, Nike said it would donate 13,000 pairs of shoes to New Orleans teens as part of a national campaign to encourage physical fitness and help fight obesity in young people. The company values the donation at approximately $1 million. Nike has tapped young superstar athletes such as LeBron James, Tiger Woods and Maria Sharapova as endorsers to garner interest from kids. The athletes were already celebrities as teenagers, and Nike views them as role models for millions of young fans.

PUMA

Trendiness quotient: 2.13

In early April, French retail and luxury giant PPR revealed plans to acquire Puma in a friendly takeover offer worth $7.17 billion. Puma, a sport lifestyle company based in Herzogenaurach, Germany, offers a range of apparel, accessories and footwear. Summer fashions for young women include the Women’s Hipster Shorts, the Packable Wind Jacket and the Woven Yogi Pants. Shoes for summer include the Sauvage sneaker, Petty Evo Lo sneakers and the Vitta Metallic slip-ons in metallic bronze.

POLO RALPH LAUREN

Trendiness quotient: 2.14

“Polo Ralph Lauren continues to be viewed as the most expensive footwear/apparel brand among the group, and both boys and girls individually,” noted the study. WWD reported last week that Polo Ralph Lauren’s fiscal 2007 revenues jumped 14.7 percent, to $4.3 billion from $3.75 billion the year prior. Ralph Lauren Rugby is making its presence known among younger consumers. Roger Farah, chief operating officer of Ralph Lauren, told WWD, “It was interesting to find that [Rugby] appeals to the younger customer and that it reaches higher up, too [among some older consumers].”

STEVE MADDEN

Trendiness quotient: 2.21

The $500 million footwear company was established by Steven Madden in 1990. Though it has had a few bumps along the way (Madden was sent to jail in 2002 after pleading guilty to federal securities and fraud charges, including conspiracy and money laundering), the company has established a reputation for its creative designs and trendy styles at affordable prices. In addition to footwear, the brand sells handbags, belts, sunglasses and leggings. And, in a move to continue expanding into other product categories, the brand launched a dress collection this past spring.

GUESS

Trendiness quotient: 2.38

Paul and Maurice Marciano’s Guess Girls in the brand’s provocative, sexy black-and-white ad campaigns have given this sportswear brand true staying power — the company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Regarding the company’s longevity, Rob Smith, divisional merchandise manager for juniors at Macy’s East, said: “They have laser focus. Most junior or contemporary brands are lucky to last five to 10 years.” WWD reported Wednesday that, due to the brand’s global expansion, “growth at Guess is on fire, with a 71.9 percent jump in first-quarter earnings.”

ADIDAS

Trendiness quotient: 2.42

Here’s a good way to get your message out to today’s youth: Head to YouTube.com. WWD reported in May that brands like Adidas are increasingly finding a home on YouTube, MySpace and similar sites, “where their videos, commercials, behind-the-scenes footage and fashion shows are posted for free.” Popular athletes, such as Anna Kournikova, David Beckham and Kobe Bryant, have helped keep Adidas on the map, too. The company said its Adidas and Reebok (which Adidas acquired in 2005) business segments drove first-quarter sales this year — revenues were up 9 percent, to $3.3 billion.

NINE WEST

Trendiness quotient: 2.50

Hot summer trends for the footwear brand include playful, flirty looks for the young consumer: Sandals, thongs and heels are featured in metallics, whites and bright shades of orange and purple. On the company front: WWD reported last month that Jones Apparel Group, Nine West’s parent, is planning to roll out price-optimization software to nearly 1,000 of its mall and outlet stores, starting this fall with its footwear stores, including Nine West. The brand’s chief operating officer, Bill Tracy, said he was confident Nine West would see significant positive impact on comp-store sales growth.

QUIKSILVER

Trendiness quotient: 2.60

The board sports company has a devoted teen fan base for its lineup of action apparel — boardshorts and wet suits come in all shapes and sizes for hard-core surfers, while snow gear like jackets, goggles and ski pants are in demand from skiers. But the Huntington Beach, Calif., company also offers denim, knits, T-shirts and sweaters for teens. The company has teamed up with big-name surfers Kelly Slater, Jeremy Flores and Dane Reynolds to represent the brand in podcasts on its Web site. In January, Quiksilver said it will grow the company through new products and retail expansion.

ROXY

Trendiness quotient: 2.61

Roxy, another popular board sports brand that got its start as a swimwear line in 1989, is owned by Quiksilver Inc. Sportswear and denim were introduced soon thereafter and the brand began expanding rapidly. Roxy considers itself the first women’s line offered by an authentic surf apparel company. Apparel ranges from skirts and dresses to hoodies and jeans. The brand has helped to popularize sports apparel for women by offering comfortable yet feminine looks.

VOLCOM

Trendiness quotient: 2.64

The board sports brand was founded in 1991 by Richard Woolcott and Tucker Hall in Orange County, Calif. The founders’ personal experiences with surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding markets helped them develop this brand. Products include T-shirts, fleece, bottoms, tops, jackets, boardshorts, denim and outerwear, and according to the company’s Web site, all products “incorporate distinctive combinations of fashion, functionality and athletic performance.”

FOSSIL

Trendiness quotient: 2.64

Fossil, based in Richardson, Tex., isn’t just about watches these days. In fact, its Web site points out that a key objective is to take the brand into new product categories, using its exclusive brand portfolio to increase market share globally. The brand has full men’s and women’s collections of apparel and accessories. For women, graphic Ts, camisoles, A-line skirts with prints and plenty of swimwear, handbags, belts, hats and scarves are hits for Fossil this summer.

REEBOK

Trendiness quotient: 3.07

Owned by Adidas AG, the footwear brand has plenty of heavyweight celebrities — Scarlett Johansson, Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Venus Williams — as endorsers to assure teens it’s a worthy brand. And in May, Reebok got serious with its young Boston contingent: Boston Public Schools and the active company are teaming up through the “Reebok 4 Real Human Rights Student Advocate Program,” a global initiative that will help students to become human rights advocates and active members of their community. In addition, Reebok offers notebooks, backpacks and other school-related items for kids and teens.

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