Byline: Julee Greenberg

This year’s top 10 list of young contemporary brands is a mix of companies that stay on top of trends, as well as those that rely on the basics to keep business afloat.
Guess, a major player in both the contemporary and denim markets, tops this year’s top 10 list of young contemporary brands. The company has endured a rough time on the financial front, and is refining its offerings to include more denim fashion pieces.
Disney, which has held the top spot on this list for years, weighs in at number 42 on this year’s WWD100 and comes in second on the top 10. Because of sluggish sales over the past year, Disney is redesigning all of its stores over the next few years.
After a major decline in business in the Nineties, it looks like Esprit is finally on the right track. The brand jumped to number three on the top 10 list from number four on the survey two years ago. Esprit in recent years found its niche as the “California lifestyle brand.” Another cartoon-based brand to make the top 10 is Looney Tunes. Produced by Warner Bros., Looney Tunes dropped considerably on the WWD100 from 35 two years ago, to 70 on this year’s list. This has a great deal to do with the company’s decision to close all company stores in the U.S.
OP has been slipping in ranking over the years on the top 100. In 1997, the brand ranked at number 51. Two years ago, it fell into the 71st slot. This year, the brand didn’t manage to land a slot on the WWD100. But this does not mean OP hasn’t remained a popular brand in the young contemporary category. OP ranks number five on this year’s top 10 list, the same ranking it had on the last survey. OP is in a rebuilding mode, going back to its roots , offering beach-inspired apparel.
Hang Ten ranks number six on the top 10. Like OP, Hang Ten’s philosophy stays true to the lifestyle of the surfer. Now known as a licensing entity, the brand has well over 100 licenses worldwide.
Contemporary retailer Express, which ranks at number seven on the top 10, owes its success to staying on trend, offering consumers what’s hot at the moment. With new merchandise arriving weekly, the retailer has acquired a following of trend-hungry shoppers who pay a visit to the store at least once a week.
The last three brands on the top 10 are newcomers to the list: Fubu, a fast-growing urban brand, junior sportswear firm XOXO and London-based French Connection, the latter of which generated buzz with its controversial “FCUK” ad campaign and the opening of flagships in San Francisco and Boston.

Young Contemporary Top 10
1. Guess
2. Disney
3. Esprit
4. Looney Tunes/Warner Bros.
5. Ocean Pacific/OP
6. Hang Ten
7. Express
8. Fubu
10. French Connection

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