Ask teens to identify their favorite specialty store at the mall and the result will likely be a more spirited debate than will likely be heard in their high school social studies classes.

As they’ve demonstrated repeatedly over the last few years, teens’ fashion tastes are not only hard to pigeonhole, but are also fickle. With the final quarter of the retail year now under way, the big winners in the specialty store sweepstakes appear to be multibrand outlets like Pacific Sunwear of California and Hot Topic, which have products that are both differentiated from the competition and in tune with the preferences of their customers.

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