GLAM MAKES SPLASH IN JUNIOR MARKET

Byline: Cynthia Redecker, New York / Kristi Ellis, Los Angeles

NEW YORK — Glam is the latest look that’s having reverberations in the junior market. But to fuel sales into the next century and to encourage its longevity, manufacturers are treating the trend in a variety of ways.
Oded Nachmani, a partner in the New York-based junior sportswear firm Coolwear, has created five glam groups featuring tops and bottoms in UltraSuede, animal prints, mesh, sequins and pointelle sweaters.
“The time is ripe to go after the glam looks,” said Nachmani. “In the teen market we have to constantly reinvent ourselves with the latest and the greatest in order to show the customers that we are on top of the trend. We are interpreting what Gucci did for the contemporary market for the junior market.”
Nachmani says the glam groups represent approximately 30 percent of the company’s $80 million volume, which he expects to reach $95 million by the end of next year.
“Glam is a way for us to extend into another area and offer the customer more to buy with a larger variety of items,” said Nachmani.
Rampage has been banking on a growing tendency by teens to “dress up,” which is accelerated by the more immediate concern for what to wear this New Year’s Eve, according to Della Olsher, vice president of licensing for the junior sportswear company. “This generation isn’t used to getting dressed up. The new looks are a way for them to express themselves because they are fun to wear and teens like the feeling of glamour,” said Olsher. “All of the fabrics in our assortment are lusher and the focus is increasingly on higher quality fabrics with a lot of embellishment.”
Olsher also noted that the looks provided by the variety of labels in the junior market have nurtured a tendency to mix and match.
“Casualwear and glam can be combined perfectly. It is now definitely possible to wear a sequined sweater during the day,” said Olsher.
Olsher pointed out that looks for the millennium will be highly sophisticated, dressy and very ladylike, reminiscent of glam rock’s feminine and accentuated silhouettes.
Olsher said the company expects to reach $130 million in volume by the end of the year.
Dollhouse, known for its edgy junior streetwear looks, is including glam in its post-millennial assortments, reported Albert Shehebar, president of the New York company.
“We’re offering a new take on street looks to give the customer a glam feel that she can wear every day,” he said.
Shehebar said all of the company’s 15 fashion groups will have elements of glam in the form of novelty trims and embellishment, and cited a new, shiny black denim line with increasingly tapered silhouettes as one of the highlights.
“To go after the customer, you have to offer hints of the trend so she’s not overpowered,” said Shehebar, who expects the company to reach $25 million in volume by the end of the year, excluding its licensed categories.
But immediately jumping on the apparent trend isn’t the only growth strategy for smaller manufacturers.
Angela DaFonseca, creative director for Malibu, a junior sportswear company with a volume of some $10 million, said she won’t aggressively push the look until after holiday.
“My department store buyers are asking for fashion basics because they’re not ready to do what some of the more directional retailers do. They’ll wait until they’re underassorted,” she said.
DaFonseca said glam was likely to generate greater volume for holiday and spring 2000 because buyers had already seen too many dressed-up looks for summer, and back-to-school is generally characterized by casual looks.
Other junior firms have already been booking glam looks for several seasons and they represent a substantial portion of their business.
At XOXO, the look represents about 10 percent of overall business and 20 to 25 percent of its sportswear business. The junior/contemporary company, owned by Aris Industries, has always offered sexy, glam items, according to Holly Fiene, head merchandiser.
Fiene said she offers glam/club looks every month. “We are still doing lots of suedes and leathers but in colors,” she said, adding that glazed fabrics in bright colors and sheer mesh backless tops are also important items in the category.
“We are now taking traditional fabrics, like tartan plaids, and making that glam rock. It is part of the whole millennium, rock, MTV concept,” Fiene said. “The big designers are now dressing the music industry, and that is getting a lot of action.”
“We feel strongly about clubwear and the glam look,” said Moshe Tsabag, president and owner of Hot Kiss, noting that 30 to 50 percent of his volume is from the club/glam category. “Young juniors aren’t always wearing Abercrombie & Fitch, especially when they go to a disco or a party. They want to dress up.”
He noted that the trend was particularly hot for fall and should carry through next spring and summer.
“The whole music world is involved,” Tsabag said. “They all look glitzy on the dance floor and the young junior customers always want to imitate their idols.”
Porn Star, a Los Angeles-based division of L&H Apparel, recently brought in its East Coast sales reps to collaborate on the two very different club scenes on the East and West Coasts.
“Where the East Coast club look might be more of a Gucci influence, the West Coast is more of a surfer influence,” said Sean Murphy, a founder of the company. “We are trying to mesh the two looks together.”
He said that about one-tenth of the company’s business is based on clubwear.
“Our whole Porn Star line is totally glitzy, shiny and slinky,” said Jamie Ready, head designer. She said that stretchy sateens; fake leather apron dresses and skants; glittery, slinky, sparkly slipdresses; iridescent stretch tube dresses, and knee-length skirts in eggplant with silver linings were strong.
In addition, triangle tops, tops with leopard patterns and random hair fringe and backless halters are popular glam looks, she said.
“As a result of the whole movement towards edgier, glam looks, our junior volume is up by 15 percent,” said Alex Berenson, president and co-owner of Greed Girl and Kik Girl, divisions of Kikwear Industries.
He predicted the trend will carry through the first quarter of next year.
“The wild style is selling,” Berenson said.
Lorraine Getz, co-designer of Kik Girl and Greed Girl, said this year’s collections consisted of the most glam/club items, adding that the holiday line was primarily glam rock.
“It’s the new millennium and girls want to show their individualism,” Getz said.