JUNIOR FLASHES ON THE PAST, WITH SLINKY DENIM AND EDGY GLITTER LOOKS.
Byline: Melanie Kletter
Turn back the clock.
Everything old is new again in the junior market, as companies continue to pile on trends from the Seventies and Eighties.
Glitter, glam and rock star-influenced looks such as studded denim, wide belts and tank shirts are hallmarks of many offerings for summer and fall.
Denim, a white-hot category all year, shows no sign of a slowdown. Low-rise, hip-hugger looks are among the most popular currently being featured in the denim market, and many companies will continue to push waistlines further south for spring and summer. As for fit, the tighter the better.
Skirts have made a comeback, and can be found in a variety of styles and silhouettes, including knee-length, denim and drawstring versions.
Other trends on tap include military influences and asymmetrical looks inspired by films such as “Flashdance.” Prints are still going strong, especially updated geometric looks and animal prints, which never seem to lose their popularity in this market.
Overall, vendors are armed with product they hope will spur momentum in what has become a very difficult selling environment. Teen apparel, like many other retail categories, fell into a bit of a sales slump this summer and has faced troubles this fall as well, as concerns widen about a slowing economy.
Most firms in this category are hewing closely to trends by offering wear-now merchandise for spring and summer, although some back-to-school and early fall looks will be on display.
Here, a preview of what junior firms will have in store for spring-summer:
Bubblegum USA, a New York-based firm, is focusing on novelty washes, said head designer Beverly Vallegos.
“We are showing a lot of denim, much of it in novel ways,” she said. “Lighter washes, embellishments and Seventies-inspired vintage looks are key. I would say, overall, our direction is Eighties rock ‘n’ roll meets Seventies vintage.”
The four-year-old company is also offering a variety of denim skirts, in mini and knee lengths, and one in a dark, blue-black hue.
Bubblegum in October launched a dress division, which is denim-driven and includes a variety of jumpsuits, Vallegos said. Military influences are another inspiration for the upcoming looks.
Animale, based in Miami, is zeroing in on bright colors such as lime, turquoise and orange for its newest offerings. Key fabrics include rayon and rayon and linen blends.
“We shipped a portion of it in our collection last year and had phenomenal re-orders,” said Ajit Datwani, president. “The fabric is breathable and soft.”
The company is also coordinating jackets and pants, since “skirts haven’t done well,” Datwani said.
Be As You Are, a T-shirt-driven firm, is shying away from “negative stuff,” said Jeremy Rider, vice president of sales. “We are offering more positive slogans and designs, such as ‘SuperGirl.”‘
Based in Washington, D.C., Be As You Are focuses on selling to small boutiques and retailers and offers T-shirts with logos as well as its own silkscreen designs.
“T-shirts continue to gain in popularity,” Rider said.
The eight-year-old firm is offering spaghetti-strap tops and more fitted Ts, as well as athletic, heather-gray looks.
Zana-Di, a denim-based line, is expanding its offerings into other categories and fabrics, said Spenser Tassler, vice president of sales.
“We just introduced a knit top line with logo Ts, which will hit stores this spring,” said Tassler. “Also, we have a variety of belted jeans with sayings such as ‘I Love Boys.”‘
Hip-hugger, low-rise jeans are another “big influence coming on strong,” he said. Lighter washings and shine coatings are also starting to catch on, as are rhinestone embellishments.
At Cavaricci, another denim-driven line, fashions for the next season remain “very item driven,” said Christopher Webb, senior designer.
“We are doing a lot of treatments, such as foil treatments and lace overlays,” Webb said. “Also, we’re doing strategically placed glitter, as well as deconstruction finishes.”
Stretch is another key look, as well as sequined fabrics.
“We are going super-low,” Webb said. “It used to be that low-rise [pants] were only selling on the East and West Coasts, but now the Midwest is starting to buy it as well.”
Undergirl, an intimate apparel firm focused on junior customers, is getting into new categories, said David Cohen, president. Among its new offerings are sleepwear as well as hosiery and robes, and the firm also has a licensed line of T-shirts.
Earlier this year, Cohen sold half of the firm to Fantasia Accessories, resulting in more breadth in its offerings.
Cohen launched Girl Wonder by Undergirl at Fantasia Accessories this fall, which is less edgy than the core Undergirl line and is marketed to department stores and larger retailers. The company also has a line called Backseat, which sells to mass retailers.
The four-year-old company has made a name for itself by offering quirky products that appeal to younger shoppers, such as thong underwear imprinted with the devil’s likeness.
Blue Plate, a New York junior company, is focusing on prints, said Seema Anand, vice president of design.
“Fabrics are really important for us,” she said. “We are offering a lot of bandeaux, as well as tie-dyes with abstract prints on top and metallic prints.”
Rhinestone embellishments and logo T-shirts are also at the ready. Bottom silhouettes include pedal-pushers, knee-length skirts and capri pants, she said.