FAIRCHILD TEEN SUMMIT: MORE LABELS GO MASS

Byline: Katherine Bowers / Kristin Young

LOS ANGELES — Retailers and vendors, deep into the juniors market, think they can further capitalize on the rapidly expanding and ultra-trendy $200 billion teen business.
That was a key theme at the Fairchild Teens & Tweens Conference, held Thursday and Friday here at the Le Meridien hotel. Both Macy’s and Quiksilver disclosed concepts for growth.
Quiksilver ceo Bob McKnight, a keynote speaker, said his $700 million company wants to tackle the mass channel, where more teens are shopping at such stores as Wal-Mart and Target. “When you look out to the future, to $1 billion in revenue and beyond, it’s intuitive to look to that distribution and get something going,” he said.
McKnight said Quiksilver, the flagship brand that the company has nurtured in small specialty stores for years, doesn’t do business with any mass chain. “But in five years, it could be different,” he suggested. McKnight said he envisions a scenario where the Huntington Beach, Calif.-brand could purchase a defunct surf label and cut a licensing deal, a la Mossimo-Target, with a mass retailer.
“For instance, we buy Maui & Sons,” he said. “We show Sears how to do it. They produce it, but we tap into the Quik DNA and marketing. Then if that goes well, maybe [that retailer] gets the first shot at Quiksilver in five years.”
Quiksilver has yet to appear alongside Old Navy, Adidas, Nike and Sony on the Teenage Research Unlimited survey of top retailers and brands. Teenage Research is a market research firm. Still, McKnight said he wasn’t disappointed the boardsport giant didn’t make the list, since it has much growth potential anyway. “We haven’t hit that radar screen and we’re at $700 million,” he said.
The future is big and small for Macy’s West. For back-to-school, the San Francisco-based retailer will begin rolling out “extended” sizes and petites, according to Robert Smith, Macy’s vice president and general merchandise manager. All junior departments, including the store’s nine-door THISIT concept, will begin carrying sizes 13s, 15s and 17s. The sizes are larger, but as Smith pointed out, identical to the three-to-11 size range so that customers aren’t forced to a separated plus-size department.
“We want those extended sizes hanging with our smaller sizes, so that our junior customer who wears a larger size can find the same fashion as her smaller friends,” said Smith. “We are also sourcing out the opportunity for plus-size collections.”
At the other extreme, California’s growing Asian population and tweens seeking teen merchandise have prompted the retailer to stock more size zeros and ones.

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