Feeding the need to provide comfortable fashion, the newest trend captivating the teen scene is athleticwear. This is not the average workout gear, however. The look is more glamorized, with fleece running suits accented with glitter or rhinestones and active mesh shorts with a “fashion fit.” While trends like novelty T-shirts, denim and lace will not die anytime soon, vendors such as DKNY, Baby Phat and J.Lo are all capitalizing on comfortable, but sexy sweats for spring.
Baby Phat, the junior streetwear version of men’s wear line Phat Farm, is offering fleece and terry-cloth two-piece athletic suits, which Michelle Perez, marketing director, said are “sexy fashion items.”
“This is athletic wear to wear out,” she stressed. “It’s not to wear to the gym.”
Perez said that after such a strong reaction to the activewear in stores for holiday, Baby Phat will offer a larger selection for the spring and summer seasons. She said that for holiday, active mesh items, velour pieces and stretch fleece sold well at retail, as well as “basketball-inspired shirts.”
In addition to the activewear trend, Perez said denim with novelty detail, including ruching, hook-and-eye closures and fake fur, are booking, as well as a variety of trendy knit tops.
Kevin Monogue, vice president of sales for DKNY Jeans, Juniors & Active, a licensed division of Liz Claiborne Inc., said 25 percent of the spring collection in junior departments will be activewear-inspired. The company found this trend to be so important that it began two new divisions carrying the activewear influence: DKNY Active Juniors and DKNY Active Jeans.
In other categories, Monogue said woven tops with a peasant look, as well as halter tops, are important for spring. Novelty denim with low-rise waistlines, whisker washes and undone hems are also still booking.
Athletic-inspired looks are driving the J.Lo business. A spokeswoman said terry cloth two-piece suits are strong, as well as the “All Star J.Lo” collection, which is the brand’s take on active.
“Pieces that Jennifer has worn on her USO tour are booking really well,” she said, noting the continuing popularity of military-inspired clothes.
Romantic peasant looks are in, as well as denim miniskirts in a variety of different washes, and logo T-shirts, she said.
On the other end of the spectrum, Coolwear president Oded Nachmani said he’s concentrating on feminine-looking pieces for upcoming seasons. He said blouses made with ruffles and lace are booking and screened Ts with quirky quotes on them are also doing well.
“We have to be careful when making these T-shirts,” he said, noting shirts that read, “If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen” and “It’s a miracle I even talk to you.” “We don’t want to offend people because the parents won’t let them wear the shirts.”
Knits with ruffle accents and crocheted sweaters are booking. Dusters are still popular, but for spring, they’re done in sweater jackets instead of sweater coats, he said. Glitter is still booking on denim and T-shirts. “I am surprised that the glitter trend is lasting,” Nachmani said.
Nachmani said holiday sales for the company increased by 30 percent from last year and spring and summer bookings are now up 20 percent from a year ago.
“I think our success comes from our ability to capitalize on the trends and deliver them to stores very fast. We bring designer trends to our customer at a good price,” he said. “It looks to me like it’s going to be a great season ahead.”
At Dollhouse, Dana Sheill, director of licensing brand management, said denim remains the most popular area. Novelty fake-fur vests were also big sellers over the holiday season.
“Like everyone else, holiday was not as bright as we would have hoped,” Sheill said. “But reorders for spring are strong.”
Sheill said she has received various reorders for dark crosshatch jeans and vintage-looking light wash jeans. Hip-hugger skirts in 14-, 16- and 18-inch lengths are strong, and tops made of woven fabrics and peasant-inspired, lingerie-like shirts are booking.