NEW YORK -- Teeny tiny togs translate into big business for the junior market.
The market has switched from oversized, hip-hop looks to shrunken baby-sized styles, and it's working.
Manufacturers have plenty of explanations for the switch, including the junior customer's fickle nature, the desire to show off the body and a need for a new kind of sexiness.
"I started doing the small shrunken look about six months ago with mohair sweaters, mesh T-shirts and fitted satin blouses," said Gregg Fiene, owner of XOXO, a California-based junior sportswear company. "I've sold about 45,000 cropped mohair sweaters to date.
"The shrunken look is all about getting back to body-conscious but sweet looks. Four years ago when I started this business, Lycra and ottoman stretch were really hot, but the look was more clubby and sexy. This is about pretty sexiness."
Other popular XOXO tiny styles include baby T-shirts with heart motifs, cropped knit cardigans, and mini knife-pleated skirts and satin HotPants.
"I think [the tiny movement] is pretty simple," explained Claire Ortiz, design director for Esprit. "Young people created the whole oversized look to rebel against things that fit. You weren't supposed to wear size 40 jeans. When that look wasn't shocking anymore, tiny and the little girl look came in," she said.
"We've been extremely successful with this look. Our direction was a surprise to the industry when it was introduced, but now our fashion styles are selling much better than our basics."
"There is so much pressure to excel for these kids, and these clothes are kind of goofy and fun, sexy but humorous," Ortiz said. "They say, 'Don't take yourself so seriously."'
Big tiny looks at Esprit include cropped wool bouclé cardigans with matching A-line miniskirts, cropped shiny rayon T-shirts, little dresses with collars and tie backs, and baby tees with Esprit logos and angels.
For some retailers, like Birmingham-based Parisian stores, the small look is retailing better in pieces than head-to-toe looks.
The short kilt and pleated skirts are strong for back-to-school, said Arlene Goldstein, Parisian's fashion director. "We've had immediate sell-throughs on tiny skirts, like Esprit's," she added.
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