This week's WWD List ranks apparel and footwear specialty retailers where consumers plan to shop for back-to-school.
This week’s WWD List ranks apparel and footwear specialty retailers where consumers plan to shop for back-to-school.
"Buying new shoes is one of the classic rites of going back to school," said Passikoff of Brand Keys. "You look and see that with five of these top names, they're selling shoes and athletic footwear. From a pattern-buying perspective, shoes tend to be search-and-examine goods. People don't just buy these out of catalogues." This New York-based brand's basketball shoe sale is likely helping attract buyers of athletic footwear. In addition to featuring shoe brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Nike and New Balance, Foot Locker offers apparel and accessories, including watches, belts, socks, T-shirts, hoodies, jackets and more. There are 1,275 locations and 356 Lady Foot Locker stores nationwide.
Many parents of young children rely on this footwear brand, known for the special engineering efforts in its offerings. Stride Rite stores provide a wide selection of footwear (from infants to age 10) in a child-friendly environment. They also employ Certified Fit Specialists, who go through a fit training program to ensure they precisely measure children's feet. They are required to create a Personal Fit Profile for each child. "Back-to-school is considered a season ? it's a period of time of taking stock to see how much children have grown," Passikoff said. "Before school starts every year, mom does the inventory, and says 'You can't wear this anymore, you've outgrown that.'"
Sports Authority operates more than 400 stores in 45 U.S. states. The retail brand, based in Englewood, Colo., is a full-line sporting goods chain. Popular brands include Nike, Under Armour, Columbia, The North Face and more. The retailer's Web site is featuring a Back to Sports program that offers incentives on team apparel and equipment for kids and adults. Another feature on the site is the "Product Reviews" section, which allows consumers to write their opinions about certain products. The Sports Authority, which opened in November 1987, was spun off from parent Kmart in 1994. The retailer is privately held.
The world's largest athletic retailer targets kids across the U.S. WWD reported this month that the company was considered one of the top 10 "ideal employers" by students who were interested in fashion, retail and apparel. Offerings for kids and teens for the b-t-s season include the Gym Basics III Girls training pants, the Refined Border Girl's Scooter skirt and Little Nike Shox Turbo VII sneakers for girls. For fiscal 2008, sales grew 14 percent to $18.6 billion from $16.3 billion the previous year. The retailer employs more than 30,000 people globally, and the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., is home to more than 6,000 employees.
This Gap Inc.-owned discount specialty retailer has begun featuring b-t-s specials on its Web site. The retailer, known for its low prices, is offering its Preppy Punk collection for girls. Items include Eighties attitude Ts, piqu? polos, knit leggings, boyfriend cardigans and rugby skorts, to name a few. The retailer is also known for its Deals Under $5, which is typically an assortment of T-shirts and accessories, such as socks and underwear. In April, Old Navy ranked first among top specialty store chains, where female teenagers said they had shopped over the previous 12 months, according to Teenage Research Unlimited.
Abercrombie & Fitch
A&F's kids have plenty to wear this season when school starts. The New Albany, Ohio-based brand is offering everything from tanks, T-shirts and polos to dresses, twill pants and skirts for girls. As far as accessories go, scarves, flip-flops and totes are available, along with beauty products, such as Abercrombie Spirit perfume and Perfume 15. "It's as exciting as your first crush ? bright, new, and full of secrets. Perfume 15 was created for the girl who loves to dream," said the company. A&F operates 356 A&F stores and 206 abercrombie kids shops.
If parents and their kids act quickly, they can take advantage of the Pittsburgh-based retailer's "up to 70 percent off" sale. Items such as the AE Babydoll sweater, the AE Swing cardigan and the AE Ruffle dress are available for girls. A new brand for two- to 10-year-olds, 77kids by american eagle, will launch this year. The line will expand into infants' clothing 18 months after the launch. "It fits into the American Eagle brand," chief executive officer Jim O'Donnell said at a financial conference in January. "American Eagle has this connection with the young consumer. It's known by moms who shopped [at American Eagle] when they were younger." American Eagle generates more than $2 billion in annual sales.
Owned by Foot Locker Inc., this athletic footwear and apparel retailer has 539 mall-based stores nationwide and 37 locations in Canada. Its target audience is suburban 12- to 25-year-olds, making its stores an ideal destination for students looking to purchase b-t-s accessories. For girls, apparel includes the Dickies collection of plaid dresses, Levi's Slim Flared jeans and Harley Davidson screen-printed T-shirts. Accessories include watches, sunglasses and backpacks from brands such as Fossil, Adidas and Jansport.
Listening to the customer is the linchpin to this retailer's success in attracting kids. "We listen to get the trends, the solutions and find out what we're doing right," the company said. PacSun, which has headquarters in Anaheim, Calif., operates more than 859 stores and 76 outlet stores in 50 states and Puerto Rico. Offerings for kids include graphic V-neck T-shirts, hoodies and skirts from well-known surf and skate brands like Quiksilver, Billabong and Hurley. The brand's denim collection features four lines: Hermosa Super Skinny, Venice Skinny, Laguna Bootcut and the Huntington Flare, while accessories include backpacks, sunglasses and handbags.
"I think that the reason this retail brand makes the top 10 is because it's that time of year to get the essentials," Passikoff said. "This is where you go." Essentials, indeed. For b-t-s, students might be interested in the dotted sash dress, tie waist denim skirt or the long drawstring skirt, which are all offered for girls. Boys might like the striped jersey polos or the Gap logo pullover hoodie. The San Francisco-based brand operates about 1,100 stores in the U.S.