TEENS PICK SUMMER ESSENTIALS
Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg
NEW YORK — There are three things to know about the summer activewear now being scooped up at retail by fashion-forward teens:
It’s more influenced by musicians than by athletes.
With the exception of Adidas, it’s generally made up of lesser-known labels not widely distributed.
It isn’t something teen-agers find serendipitously. The kids know what they want before they even enter the store.
That’s the word from a spot check of seven directional retailers here and in Los Angeles, who said colorful tube tops, baby-Ts and three-stripe pants are among this summer’s favorite items.
At Ghetto Sport, a 1,800-square-foot store in San Gabriel, Calif., that specializes in hip-hop music and clothing, Adidas $20 baby-Ts and $26 bra tops are “super hot” with teenage girls, said owner Trivilin Rabanal. Baby blue and white, and navy and yellow are the two top color combinations.
Striped tube tops retailing from $15 to $18 by Dawls, Spot and Sugar are in demand. Bucket hats — canvas lids long favored by fishermen — are also must-haves for summer. Adidas, Pervert and Tribal are the three best-selling labels.
“Most kids know exactly what they want when they walk in the door. They’re very directional. If we don’t have it, they leave,” he said. “Underground clothing is coming back.”
While shopping at Ghetto Sport, teenage girls often pick up Urb, Industry Insider and other music magazines for fashion tips.
“A lot of girls are coming in to buy for their boyfriends. I haven’t seen that for a while. It wasn’t happening when I was their age,” said the 31-year-old Rabanal. “It’s almost like there’s a Sadie Hawkins kind of thing going on.”
At retail prices ranging from $38 to $44, Adidas three-stripe pants are the summer staple for juniors at Industrial Shoe Warehouse, a three-unit Los Angeles operation that opened its third store last month, in West Hollywood.
“Adidas used to be in because of the athletes that wore it. But now it’s just in,” said store manager Melissa Ames.
In the past two months, Industrial Shoe Warehouse has sold 5,000 units of Adidas Superstar and Epic three-stripe pants to girls. White pants with stripes in baby blue, orange, red or black are bestsellers. To complete the look, many shoppers also buy coordinating baseball caps, fisherman hats and shoes, Ames said.
“The fact that people can spend so much money surprises me. We have 12-year-old kids paying $120 for a whole Adidas setup or a pair of shoes,” she said. “It’s different.”
Adidas three-stripe pants are also the rage at Workmen’s Outlet, a four-unit operation that caters to the hip-hop crowd. Teenage girls are buying the $45 men’s polyester and cotton version at the retailer’s stores in West Hollywood, Westwood, Pasadena and Tarzana, said Joe Kawasaki, shop manager.
Workmen’s Outlet sells about 600 units weekly to women. The most popular combinations are white with black stripes, black with white stripes and navy with white stripes. Most teen-agers wear the pants with basic T-shirts, coordinating jackets or tank tops.
“They’re really comfortable. It’s kind of like wearing pajamas outside without getting looked at funny,” Kawasaki said.
Teenage girls shopping at Atomic Garage, a Los Angeles store popular with skateboarders, like the looks of Cosmic baby-Ts, which retail from $16 to $18. A baby blue style screen-printed with an image of a woman playing guitar is the best-selling style, said Noriko Okayama, sales associate.
Paul Frank is another hot resource for T-shirts. A $20 style with an image of a monkey’s face is a key item. “Their style is pretty much baggy jeans, cute tops and cute hair with little clips,” Okayama said.
At Dr. Jay’s, a four-unit operation here, teenagers are buying Fubu, Parasuco and Mecca, labels worn by Puff Daddy and other high-profile rappers, said Marc Sutton, general manager. While shopping, girls routinely refer to brands that are worn by rappers.
“They’re still getting inspiration from the rappers. Rappers are their idols,” he said.
To appeal to the MTV generation, sidewalk speakers play hip-hop.
Most girls spend about $60 for an outfit, and skimpy T-shirts paired with baggy shorts are the hottest look. Orange and other colors are in, but black and white are out, Sutton said. Business is so strong that Dr. Jay’s plans to open a second store in Brooklyn in August or September.
Young shoppers at Jimmy Jazz, a Harlem specialty store, copy fashions worn by their peers and rappers, according to a store spokeswoman.
Red or yellow Polo Sport T-shirts at $19 are the best-selling items.
“Girls know what they want because everyone else is wearing it,” the spokeswoman said.
Polo Sport T-shirts are also a hit at Xpress, another Harlem retailer.
Girls are buying men’s styles with small, understated logos, said Joy Lopez, a cashier. Prices range from $18 to $48.
At prices ranging from $20 to $40, men’s Mecca T-shirts in yellow, gray, orange or blue are also popular with women.
“They like to dress like their boyfriends and their brothers. They like dressing hip-hop,” Lopez said.
Mossimo is the preferred label at Planet Earth Sportswear, a four-unit retailer here. Bra tops retailing between $50 and $85 and bike shorts from $36 to $45 are bestsellers, said Ralphie Yedid, vice president and buyer. Red, royal blue, pink, lime and gray are key colors.
“If they like something, they buy it. They’ll save their money if they have to and buy it,” Yedid said.
For the past month, Planet Earth has been selling about 12 ensembles daily at each of its stores.
“In the summer, people are more into sports,” he said. “They like to show off their nice legs. That’s why they work out all year round in the gym. They’re also cool. They’re not heavy like a T-shirt and shorts.”
Teenagers pick up fashion tips from “all kinds of magazines, rap music, MTV and ‘Baywatch,”‘ Yedid said.