JUNIOR AND YOUNG CONTEMPORARY VENDORS ARE TURNING TO ACTIVE-AND DENIM-BASED LOOKS TO TEMPT THE TEEN FASHION PALATE.

Junior and young contemporary vendors know that to stay in the game, they have to stay on top of the next big trend. Whether it’s a simple pair of fleece sweatpants or a glittery halter top, fashion-hungry juniors continue to be lured by the latest looks, despite an economy that’s slowed momentum in other markets.

Even denim, the category that just won’t quit, isn’t immune to teen-friendly change. The past few seasons, novelty denim jeans, skirts, jackets and dresses have been trimmed with glitter, sequins, beads and rhinestones. For fall, however, vendors like Red X Jeans are scaling back on embellishments and experimenting with different washes instead.

Activewear is another category impacting the teen scene. Vendors are offering athletic-inspired looks better suited to school or a party than the gym, including velour sweatsuits with embroidered logos and a sprinkling of glitter or crystals, or a daringly cut sweatshirt.

Here are some of fall’s top trend offerings:

At Red X Jeans, a year-old Salt Lake City-based denim company, owner and president Randy Reid said the firm is “cleaning up denim” by going back to the basics. The brand’s restyling extends to its logo, which used to read “Red X Jeans” and now sports a simple, graphic red “X.”

In addition, said Reid, “We are bringing back washes that were popular seasons ago, but making the jeans look new, modern and still young enough that parents wouldn’t wear them.”

While many denim brands are turning out low-rise numbers that plunge even further for fall, Red X will bring waistlines up to a medium rise. Reid said the change was instigated by local school officials who didn’t find low-rise jeans appropriate for classroom wear. “The rise will still be low, but not as low as we used to have,” he said. “They will definitely be more school-friendly.”

Reid said the company’s new washes include the “snow-out,” a “super-washed-out denim.” Whiskering is still trending, as are dirty-wash jeans. Reid said Red X will bring back color denim in a classic five-pocket style, in black, khaki, cobalt blue, purple and burgundy.

Red X also has a cotton-based knit top collection consisting of T-shirts, jerseys, stretch terries and ribbed tops that work back with the denim. In the knits, Reid said tie-dye is popular in sherbet and earth tones for fall.

Prices range from $19.50 to $22.50 for denim and from $7 to $20 for knits.

It might have a funny name, but it sure is catching on. The Los Angeles-based junior brand FuMan Skeeto started out selling logo T-shirts and now boasts a full sportswear collection after just a few years in business. The stylized “FS” logo now appears on jeans, sweats, skirts and dresses, as well as on T-shirts and some men’s wear.

FuMan Skeeto recently launched a music production division — a natural direction for the company, according to president Danielle Raabe, given that FuMan Skeeto was founded by ‘NSync member Chris Kirkpatrick. (Kirkpatrick will make an appearance at FuMan Skeeto’s booth on Feb. 20, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 and 1:30 to 3 p.m .)

Keri Alberghini, sales manager, said that WWDMAGIC will be an opportunity for them to show that the expanded line can reach a wider audience.

“A lot of people think this collection is a line for 12-year-olds,” Alberghini said. “While younger kids do like the line, our fan base consists of an older crowd as well.”

For fall, the company will offer a velour grouping consisting of an ankle-length coat, a column skirt and a sporty henley top. T-shirts with the FuMan Skeeto logo will return, with the addition of rayon and spandex T-shirts in a variety of hues, from pastels to basic black and white. Other fall offerings include a sweatshirt with revealing cutouts at the shoulders and collarbone, and a few novelty denim looks, ranging from the pinstriped to the low-rise to the rough-edged.

The line is now carried in roughly 500 doors across the country, including Nordstrom and Vanity Shops, a Fargo, N.C.-based chain. Alberghini said she hopes to pick up more clients across the U.S. and abroad.

Wholesale prices range from $10 for T-shirts to $27 for jeans.

New York-based knitwear firm Smudge will offer a broad spectrum of sweaters, from chunky to dolman-sleeved to military-inspired. According to managing director Jonathan Satin, though, fall yarns will be generally cozier and softer to feed the nationwide “nesting” trend.

“Since Sept. 11, people have been asking for comfortable and casual clothes,” he said. “That is what we will offer. Soft yarns are the number-one trend.”

Satin said sweaters will be made from soft acrylic and chenille yarns, such as a zip-front hoodie with a pom-pom hanging from the hood. The company’s duster group will be expanded as well.

“The next duster is made with a combination of yarn and outerwear fabrics,” Satin said, citing a leather coat with arms made of a ribbed acrylic yarn and another made with a rabbit-fur body and ribbed acrylic sleeves. Wholesale prices range from $9 for sweaters to $15 for coats.

Chica, a Los Angeles-based novelty T-shirt company, touches on a panolopy of trends. Constance Burge, a merchandiser for the firm, said that screened T-shirts will be a focus, along with shirts that are raw-edged or ruched at the shoulders and sides. T-shirts embellished with sequins, glitter or foil treatments are sure to see strong bookings, she added, as well as T-shirts with a tropical theme.

“We have shirts with a screen-printed [floral] or a photo of a beach scene accented with glitter and lace,” she said.

Burge also mentioned a Fifties-style bowling shirt, as well as off-the-shoulder knit tops with puffy sleeves in colors like white, red, black and powder blue.

“Novelty is our main strength,” she said. “In one way or another, we try to introduce a new type of novelty every season.”

The two-year-old firm also offers a limited selection of pants, as well as a collection of plus-sized T-shirts.

“We hope to open new accounts for our plus-size junior line,” Burge said. “There is such a void in the market for it.”

Wholesale prices range from $6.50 to $9.50.

With the activewear trend running strong, Los Angeles-based Hard Tail will offer plenty of it. The newest attraction at the booth will be a yoga-inspired collection of workout gear that Dick Cantrell, the company’s president, said is “actually for working out.”

Featured in the collection are pants with a boot-leg cut and a roll-down waistband. Offered in an indigo-dyed stretch jersey and French terry material, the style resembles a pair of jeans, but with the comfort of sweatpants.

“The roll-down waistband allows the customer to create her own rise,” said Cantrell.

To match the pants, Hard Tail is producing a line of knit tops treated with an indigo dye and potassium-based wash that mimic the look of denim.

Wholesale prices start at $9 for tops and goes to $45 for pants.

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