JUNIOR BEAT

SANRIO SHIFTS: Sanrio Inc., the creator of the Hello Kitty cartoon character, is making some changes in its junior collections for spring.
The firm is attempting to market a fashion collection rather than merely character-driven items. With its junior licensing partner, Jerry Leigh in Los Angeles, Sanrio is incorporating fashion elements popular in the junior market.
At the same time, the firm is introducing a penguin character named Badtz Maru as a brand for a sportswear group.
Collections named for each of the three characters the firm has licensed — Hello Kitty, Keroppi and Badtz Maru — will include specific trends.
Silhouettes for Badtz Maru have a sport influence and include long crewneck dresses with athletic striping, hooded jackets and warmup suits.
Keroppi plays on the military influence, with camouflage prints, black pants with cargo pockets and hooded jackets in tones of black, khaki, olive and sand.
Hello Kitty includes leopard prints in red and blue tones and skirts, dresses and tanks in polyester with an embroidered logo.
“The way the line is created now, it’s not screaming character — it’s more of a fashion design,” said Sachiko Louie, vice president of Sanrio. “I’m sure juniors would go to sleep with a big animated character T-shirt — but they don’t want to wear that to clubs and to school.
“You really have to have a collection to make them want to wear it,” she added, pointing out that juniors don’t want to look like “a walking billboard.”
The first deliveries for the collections are set for January. Wholesale prices range from $8 to $25.

STYLING WITH SCHOLL’S: Junior firms Roxy by Quiksilver and XOXO have each designed funky Dr. Scholl’s footwear for an upcoming Children’s Hope Foundation fund-raising auction.
Dr. Scholl’s is the title sponsor for the event, slated for Nov. 13 at the Sony Plaza in New York. Various designers and firms designed and donated a pair of Dr. Scholl’s exercise sandals for the auction.
For its shoe, Roxy by Quiksilver stayed true to its surfer origins by creating a sandal in a Hawaiian-like print and applying red fringe around the base of the shoe.
XOXO has augmented the sandals, which are normally flats, with platform heels and placed an XOXO logo on the side.
Proceeds from the event will benefit children and families living with HIV and AIDS. There are no current plans to retail the sandals.

MEOW MIX: Junior retailer Wet Seal/Contempo Casuals is pushing more cutting-edge designs in its new private label division, Meow Genes.
The retailer has been building a stable of private label lines, but it needed a brand that encompassed edgier styles desired by “fashion-forward, alternative” shoppers, said Sharon Hughes, vice president of merchandise.
“It’s a little more girly, forward, edgier,” said Hughes. “Everything will be real novelty, not basic.”
Hughes said the intent is also to utilize the cat head signature logo as much as possible. The logo has exaggerated eyes with colored eyelids.
The line will be moderate to higher priced, with tops retailing from $24 to $39 and pants from $29 to $49.
Meow Genes is not intended to be a “matchy matchy” collection, said Hughes, but rather a group of special items to make a wardrobe pop.
The line includes styles that look more specialty-shop oriented, Hughes said. They include stretch denim items, fuzzy sweaters, fur-trimmed jackets, velvet animal prints, screen-printed T-shirts and ribbed synthetic T-shirts with the embroidered cat logo.
Pieces of Meow Genes have begun to trickle into the store, but the bulk will not appear until the end of October.

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