“Thankfully, we’ve been pulled into it,” said Alternative Apparel chief executive officer Evan Toporek of the expansion. “It is something our customers have been requesting for a while. We’ve stayed focused on adults for long enough.…Also, we think it’s a teaching moment. The parents can start early with their kids and get them focused on working with companies that care about being environmentally friendly and the working conditions in the factories they work with.”
The range is geared toward age six up to tween, a segment of the market old enough, Toporek said, to begin making choices on their personal style. Some pieces will reference prints or the vintage inspiration Alternative Apparel often taps into in its adult line to lend to what Toporek called a timeless quality to the pieces. Still, he added, it will be kid friendly with plenty of novelty in the line.
“They’re starting to think for themselves,” he said of the age group. “Having kids in that age group myself, it’s no longer bringing clothes home and they wear it. That’s why we’ve really focused on them. There’s plenty of commoditized basic apparel in the market for young kids.”
It’s too soon to call how large the youth business could grow into or if it would rival adults, the ceo said.
“Tough to say, it could be as big as our adult business,” he said. “I’m not sure we expect it to be that way, but it’s a decision for us to make because it’s a natural extension of the brand.”
The line, priced from $18 to $36 and running from youth small to youth extra-large, will launch on the company’s web site Oct. 10 and on Oct. 15 in Alternative Apparel stores, of which the company has three in Venice, San Francisco and SoHo. Stitch Fix will also launch the youth line later this month with the company now going to market to sell to other retailers.
The Alternative Apparel Abbot Kinney Boulevard door will have a special area dedicated to merchandising of the youth line. The store resides in a Twenties bungalow with rooms that made the conversion to a youth-dedicated space an easy one.
Alternative Apparel’s stores in general are doing well, Toporek said, adding the company remains focused on wholesale with its own retail expansion a consideration.
Up next, Alternative Apparel is to ramp up an expansion in collegiate bookstores that began in September. The brand is already in 60 doors and will continue to grow that base. The company, Toporek said, is also bolstering its international growth. It’s now shipping to Australia and building on the brand’s footprint in Europe.