Some may think that when it comes to a pair of jeans, the junior shopper wants the impossible — a premium product for $29.99.
While denim makers are finding this idea challenging, they also know that they have to attempt to make a better product in order to stay in the game. After all, with high-end jeans brands like Seven For All Mankind, Citizens of Humanity and J Brand on the radar of today's teens, traditional junior brands like Mudd and L.E.I. have their work cut out for them.
"Some teen girls have been wearing premium jeans for years," said Barbara Bylenga, president of the San Francisco-based research firm Outlaw Consulting. "Wearing these jeans is largely a status symbol for them and I think that the girl who wants them and gets them really isn't going to buy a pair of cheaper jeans on the junior floor."
Bylenga said girls from Generation Y have really gotten good at getting their parents to buy them these status jeans, even if they cost upward of $200 at retail.
"Parents want to make their kids happy and in many cases will do whatever it takes," she said. "An upgraded product from a junior jeans brand may be OK for a more mainstream girl, but I really think it's tough right now."
With that said, Bylenga said she thinks many junior jeans brands are doing a good job with what they have. They have upgraded their quality and still manage to offer their products at value prices.
"It's all about sourcing today," said Alden Halpern, chief executive officer of 4Whatitsworth Inc., the parent company for junior denim brand Tyte. "We source all over the world. We have designers that design the product without a price in mind. That way we get the $150 look and then figure out how we can produce it with good quality for a price."
Halpern said when designing in this way, there's always a little give-and-take. For example, he said many times they may offer a pair of jeans made in a lower-grade fabric, but offset that with a smart embroidery detail, nicer rivets and heavier stitching. This way, he said, the jeans can still be offered at $35. In addition, Halpern said there are ways to make the jeans appear in premium quality, such as with upgrading the logos and packaging and using contrasting fabrics on the inner waistband for good hanger appeal.
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