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NEW YORK — Manhattan is home to a monied breed of cosmopolitan teenagers who early on learn the value and social standing that comes along with a Prada bag or a Gucci boot.
There are no forays to the local mall for them. Instead, at their feet are the ritzy Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue designer boutiques.
While teenagers here don’t necessarily flock to designer flagships for the latest runway offerings, they do seek out secondary lines like D&G, Miu Miu and Marc by Marc Jacobs. However, the bulk of their shopping excursions take place at specialty stores, where they shop in packs with their friends or with their mothers.
“The teenager who shops here independently tends to buy makeup, accessories, T-shirts and denim,” said Ed Burstell, vice president and general manager at Henri Bendel.
Popular labels in these categories for teens include Custo Barcelona, Patricia Field and jeans by Blue Cult and Adriano Goldschmied. Bendel’s shop-in-shop Flight 001 is also popular with teens who lean towards travel guide books, cd holders and funky travel totes.
“Those who come in with their moms will spend up,” he said. “The mothers shop in our designer section and the daughters in our “New Creators” group (an area devoted to new, innovative designers). The kids we get in here don’t want basics. Our teenage business is driven by novelty items, like a decorative handbag, a piece of trend jewelry or even a hair extension.”
Scoop’s uptown boutique at Third Avenue and 73rd Street caters to a strong contingent of teenage shoppers.
“We have a huge teenage clientele,” said Stefani Greenfield, co-owner of the Scoop boutiques. “And we welcome them with open arms.”
Teens at Scoop favor denim, Juicy pieces, the store’s own private label knitwear, Petit Bateau T-shirts and Marc by Marc Jacobs.
“They buy a lot of jeans, T-shirts and sweaters,” Greenfield said. “But they also buy Theory sweaters for school and Diane Von Furstenberg dresses for bar mitzvahs and sweet sixteen parties.”
Greenfield added that she also recently sold two Marc Jacobs Stella bags at around $875 to teens. Scoop serves not only as a shopping destination for teens, but as a socializing venue, as well.
“They come in little gangs after school,” she said. “It’s a hangout for them, and we’re very open to that. That was the dream of Scoop — to make it a fun, neighborhood store.”
The smaller, more intimate store-setting makes it easier for teens to come in, pick things out and then call their mothers about potential purchases. Greenfield also points out the fashion savvy of her teen customers.
“They know the trends,” she said. “They know what’s happening.”
Other big sellers for teens this season have been Earl clogs and parkas, and peacoats by Marc by Marc Jacobs. Scoop has also started to carry smaller sizes to accommodate the teen customer.
Not all teens can troll the uptown specialty boutiques for their jeans and T-shirts. Many venture to Atrium downtown on Broadway and Bleecker Street. Atrium carries a vast array of denim lines and rinses, but also features a deejay on the weekend, which makes for a highly energized shopping experience that’s clearly aimed at a younger shopper.
Atrium’s clientele ranges from teens to women in their early thirties, but its wide range of denim brands, styles and washes makes it especially popular among the younger set. Labels that sell well at the store include Diesel, Miss Sixty, Seven, Paper Denim & Cloth and Adriano Goldschmied.
“Our teen customer is a little more adventurous,” said Alison Mangaroo, buyer for Atrium. “She wants things that are more fashion forward and a bit funkier, like jeans with a wider flare, more coloration and a lower rise. Teenagers, of course, are the ones who can pull that off without any problem.”
Mangaroo also cites outerwear as a big seller to the teen consumer. Coats like hooded parkas and bombers from G-Star, which retail for $190 to $210, have sold out.
“That’s a good price point for outerwear for that age group,” Mangaroo said.
When New York teens aren’t whiling away their afternoons shopping, they can also be found doing exactly what other teens across the country do — hanging out at pizza joints, going to the movies and perusing record stores.
One of the overwhelming favorites is the Virgin Megastore in Union Square. Located next to the United Artists Union Square movie theatre and featuring 500 listening stations, live performances and a cafe, teens spend hours lounging around listening to music, flipping through magazines and sipping lattés.