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INFANTS’, GIRLS’ & BOYS’ WEAR REVIEW

FEBRUARY 2010 $5.00

Close Call Domestically Made Goods Get a Boost Middle Man How Multi-Line Reps Hold It Together Y Not? Cracking the Tween Boy Code

Artistic License

Tween Designers Select Sophisticated Fabrics, Silhouettes and Finishings


For babies only

a e P o n S ®

Extraordinary xtraordinary garments for young sprouts! www.snopeasprouts.com SnoPea logo and “tag line” are registered trademarks of SnoPea, Inc. © 2009 SnoPea, Inc.


¡

Little Me

112 w. 34th Street Suite 1000 NY, NY 10120 212-279-4150 Mark Zelen

www.littleme.com Northeast – Robert Ducker 781-320-9477 Southeast – Paul Daubney 404-577-6840 Caribbean/Latin America – Ana Hidalgo 305-266-8745 Texas/Southwest – Lonnie Muse 800-437-5136 West Coast – Teresa Stephen 866-723-KIDS Midwest – Richard Finkelstein 800-935-0236

See us at: The Kids Show LasVegas Feb. 15th – 17th Booth No. 312 The Children’s Club NYC, Mar. 7th – 9th Little Me is a Division of Mamiye Brothers Inc.


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JACOB JAVITS CENTER

AN ENK INTERNATIONAL EVENT

T.212.759.8055 F.212.758.3403

CHILDRENSCLUB@ENKSHOWS.COM WWW.ENKSHOWS.COM/CHILDRENSCLUB

RETAILER/BUYER REGISTRATION: WWW.ENKREGISTRATIONS.COM


100 West 33rd Street, Suite 1115, New York, NY 10001 212-630-3100 support@haddad.com


100 West 33rd Street, Suite 1115, New York, NY 10001 212-630-3100 support@haddad.com


www.earnshaws.com

Coming in March...

Rita Polidori O'Brien Publisher Caletha Crawford Editor in Chief EDITORIAL Leslie Shiers Managing Editor Melissa Knific Features Editor Angela Velasquez Editorial Assistant Jacqueline Micucci Contributing Editor Del-Ann Henry Editorial Intern Nancy Campbell Creative Director Trevett Neal McCandliss Art Director

★ Winter Wonders A look at the styles taking over at home and abroad

★ Green Light, Go! Strategies for driving traffic into your store

★ Blue State The top denim trends for back-to-school

★ Stepping Forward Earnshaw’s Fall ’10 Little Steps footwear lookbook

★ Plus! Sportswear takes over the fashion pages

ADVERTISING Erwin Pearl Vice President of Sales ext. 17, epearl@symphonypublishing.com Caroline Diaco Special Accounts Manager ext. 18, cdiaco@symphonypublishing.com Jennifer Craig Special Accounts Manager ext. 19, jcraig@symphonypublishing.com Alex Marinacci Account Executive ext. 10, amarinacci@symphonypublishing.com Patrick Thomas Sales Representative, Canada (514) 383-0916, pthomas@symphonypublishing.com Maureen Johan Classified Sales (781) 453-9310, mjohan@symphonypublishing.com Laurie Guptill Production A D M I N I S T R AT I O N Melanie Prescott Circulation Manager Sanford Kearns Webmaster EDITORIAL AND EXECUTIVE OFFICE 8 West 38th Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10018-0150 Tel. (646) 278-1550, Fax (646) 278-1553 nyeditorial@symphonypublishing.com CIRCULATION OFFICE 21 Highland Circle, Needham, MA 02494 Tel. (781) 453-9310 ext. 24, Fax (781) 453-9389 circulation@symphonypublishing.com

SYMPHONY PUBLISHING NY, LLC CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS 26202 Detroit Road, Suite 300, Westlake, OH 44145 Tel. (440) 871-1300

Xen Zapis Chairman Lee Zapis President Rich Bongorno Chief Financial Officer Sid Davis Group Publisher


February

VOLUME 94, NUMBER 2

Become an Insider

42 ON THE COVER: Tangerine Sky sweater, top, skirt and leggings. ON THIS PAGE: Diesel jacket; Cut by 2 Blondes top. Photography by Martín Sanmiguel; hair and makeup by Chuck Jensen for Mark Edward Inc. Fashion editor: Caletha Crawford.

NEWS

12 Apparel 14 Licensing COLUMNS

16 Pampered 18 What’s Selling 20 The Goods 22 Unwrapped 24 C2C 26 Little Steps 52 Retail Spotlight IN EVERY ISS UE

10 15 55 55

Editor’s Letter Calendar Where to Buy Ad Index

FE ATURES

28 Story Board Designers disclose the influences that shaped their fall collections. 32 Home Grown Made in the USA takes on new meaning as safety and environmental concerns mount over imports. 35 Boys to Men Retailers discuss the best ways to tempt the often indifferent tween boy consumer. 38 Perfect Fit Multi-line reps and vendors explain why successful partnerships demand open communication and shared goals. FA S H I O N

42 Stroke of Genius Fall styling is a play in contrasts with flowy silhouettes paired with structured pieces. 56 I Spy A dash of lace gives girls’ apparel a fancy French twist.

EARNSHAW’S INFANTS, GIRLS AND BOYS WEAR REVIEW ISSN 0161-2786 (USPS-320-090) The business and fashion magazine of the children’s wear industry is published monthly by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC, 8 W. 38th Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10018-0150. The publishers of this magazine do not assume responsibility for statements made by their advertisers in business competition. Periodicals postage is paid in New York, N.Y. and additional mailing offices. Subscription price for one year: U.S. $48; Rates outside U.S. available upon request. Single price copy, $5. Copyright 2010 by Symphony Publishing NY, LLC. Postmaster: Send address changes to Earnshaw’s Infants, Girls and Boys Wear Review, P.O. Box 8548, Lowell, MA 01853-8548. Publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or photos. Any photographs, artwork, manuscripts, editorial samples or merchandise sent for editorial consideration are sent at the sole risk of the sender. Symphony Publishing NY, LLC will assume no responsibility for loss or damage. No portion of this issue may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Printed in USA.

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editor’s letter BUILDING BONDS This business is very personal. Though it can be easy to forget when faced with the 101 tasks it takes to get products to market and sold through, this business—like most—is really all about relationships. This is evident at any trade show. Merchants routinely pass by booth after booth in pursuit of a vendor or sales rep they know and with whom they enjoy doing business. Oftentimes these personal connections make more of a difference in selling than any added frill or embellishment. Reps who handle multiple lines illustrate this point best. Collections often benefit from being sold by someone buyers trust. This is why manufacturers always ask me for sales rep recommendations. I’m smart enough to steer clear of that sticky situation, directing them to do their own detective work to determine if

their collection might be a good fit with a rep’s existing lines and to find out what those brand managers think of the rep in question. Ultimately, it’s less about “good rep vs. bad rep” and more about the fit between their working styles. The whole matter is complicated further by the fact that there are lots of misconceptions surrounding the sales rep’s role. In “Perfect Fit” (page 38), veteran reps discuss what they can and can’t do for a brand, the part the vendor plays in their success, and the need for open communication between manufacturer, rep and retailer. In “Boys to Men” (page 34), we delve into the trickiest category in kids’ wear: tween boys. As it turns out, this article is also about relationships; it’s a love story about boys and their shoes (and, to a lesser degree, their hats). If you thought boys this age group don’t like to shop and had no interest in fashion, maybe you’re offering the wrong merchandise. Yes, generally speaking they’re only interested in

a handful of brands and for the most part they’re attracted to a narrow range of styles, but as our consumer profiles show, they get truly animated on the topic of their kicks. Besides personal connections, regional ties are playing a larger role in the consumer mindset, as demonstrated by the increased awareness and interest in U.S.made goods. In “Home Grown” (page 32), we explore the economic, environmental and safety concerns that have given a boost to lines that produce domestically.

Caletha Crawford Editor in Chief


apparel news Llum Soft

Pediped

Joah Love for OmniPeace

NEW LINES • Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Soft introduces a line addressing the sensory needs of children without sacrificing personal style. The tagless, flat-seamed, soft-brushed and bio-washed cotton line is designed to be comfortable yet hip, and targets boys and girls ages 4 to 12. Soft stays away from certain textures and trims that can irritate children who experience sensory sensitivity, which is a common symptom of developmental disabilities such as autism. The capsule collection is a line of basics

spanning tees, cardigans, a party dress, a shirt with a water-based tie print, and chinos in gray, navy, red, gold, white and raspberry. Wholesale colors range from $5 to $12.50. E-mail wholesale@softclothing. net or visit www.softclothing.net. • Kids’ footwear brand Pediped of Henderson, Nev., launches a collection of tights (0 to 6 years) and socks (shoe sizes 3 to 13). Six styles comprise the initial collection: ruffled Pima cotton capri tights, Pima cotton capri tights, Pima cotton tights, organic cotton tights, and organic cotton cuff and ribbed socks. The solid-colored collection offers hot pink, light pink, chocolate, navy, khaki, ivory, white and black options wholesaling for $2 to $6.50. Visit www.pediped.com.

• Humanitarian fashion brand OmniPeace is teaming with children’s apparel line Joah Love of Los Angeles to create a kids’ tee collection, Joah Love for OmniPeace. Available for sizes 6 months to 8 years, designs include a burnout tee with the OmniPeace logo (the African continent resembling a peace sign) and the words “When I Grow Up... I Want to Make a Difference,” as well as a tee with the logo made out of tiny stars. Colors include bubblegum, ash, canary yellow, sage, raspberry, white and cobalt blue; the tees wholesale for $18. Los Angeles-based OmniPeace donates 25 percent of all profits to charities promoting peace, education and human rights as well as those helping to end extreme pov-


apparel news MOGO The Magnet Charm

Coucou

New Jammies

Züpers

erty in Africa by 2025. Call (310) 446-1332. • Seattle-based MOGO The Magnet Charm launches a playful line of magnetic jewelry for tweens. The charm bands link together to make necklaces, headbands, ankle bands, wristbands, belts and more. Color combinations include turquoise/gray, pink/orange and black. Charms—which come packaged in sets of three in a reusable tin—feature funky phrases such as “Groovy Love,” “Heart to Heart,” Free Bird” and “Peace Time.” Letter charms are also available, allowing girls to personalize with acronyms like “LOL,” “BFF” and “OMG.” Wholesale prices are $1.50 to $7. Visit www. getmogo.com. • New York-based and Lima, Peru-produced Coucou debuts its layette and knitwear collections for 0 to 24 months. Pieces in the casual knitwear group are available in 100-percent Pima cotton or alpaca, a cashmere-like wool. Styles include cardigans, pants, A-line dresses, coveralls and more in navy, natural, chocolate, pink, light blue and burgundy/wine. Each item in the layette group (one-pieces, gowns, 12

February 2010

footed two-pieces, hats, bibs and more) comes in white, pink or blue Pima cotton; some pieces feature intricate smocking detail. Wholesale prices run $8 to $35. Email sales@coucouonline.com. • Seattle-based Züpers debuts a line of durable leggings for active yet fashion-forward girls. Available in sizes 6 months to 6X, the micro-polyester/ Lycra blend leggings feature interior pockets on the knees that can be stuffed with special pads for protection against falls; a heart-stitched design is on the outside of the knee. Züpers are available in solid ($15 wholesale) and patterned ($16) styles, including tie-dye, denim, zebra, giraffe, mod designs and more. The leggings are tagless, quick drying and offer UV50 protection. Each comes with a secret treasure pocket on the lower leg and is packaged in a reusable and recyclable cardboard purse. Visit www.zupergirls.com. • Expanding from its fruit and vegetable theme, Aspen, Colo.based New Jammies introduces a collection of 100-percent organic cotton pajamas featuring sports designs to encourage

exercise. The PJs come with a storybook, “Tales from New Jammie-Land, Tale 2: I Dream of Sports,” which teaches kids the importance of staying fit. Like its previous collections, the brand’s sports-themed pajamas are not treated with chemical flameretardants. Items run the gamut from shorts and long-john sets to a footed long-sleeve one-piece and a short-sleeve one-piece with optional pants. Available in sizes newborn to 6 years, the new collection wholesales for $10 to $15. New Jammies also plans to develop a children’s underwear line. Visit www.newjammies.com. • Expanding beyond dresses, Dolls and Divas of Alpine, N.J., adds skirts, tunics, tops and leggings with a new grouping that comprises approximately 60 pieces. Highlights include a sateen tunic with a gathered waistband, a layered cotton and tulle skirt, and tuxedo pant-inspired cotton leggings with sateen strips down the legs. Sizes range from 12 months to 12 years. Wholesale prices run $12 to $27. E-mail info@dolls-divas.com or visit www.dollsanddivascollection.com. earnshaws.com


Korea Launches Kids’ Trade Show Seoul, Korea, will host the first-ever Kids In Fashion & Style (KIFS) show this May. The specialized trade show will showcase children’s apparel, shoes and accessories as well as textiles and raw materials. “KIFS will be a golden opportunity for companies that want to get into the Korean market, expose their brand, and find quality buyers and retailers,” noted Abdul Salam Al Madani, president of show parent INDEX Holding. While KIFS will focus on Asian apparel lines, a number of international exhibitors will be present, including Sara Sara, Lipstik Girls and Mimi & Maggie in the USA Pavilion. Exhibitors will also be featured in a fashion show. Nearly 50,000 visitors are expected to attend—not only from Asia but the Middle East and Europe as well. KIFS is set to take place May 20-22. For more information, e-mail namkyung.lee@indexholding.co.kr.

Oilily Returns to Its Roots After a brief period away from the market, Alkmaar, Holland-based Oilily will make a return for Fall ’10. Room Seven, also of Alkmaar, has acquired the license to design and distribute the Oilily newborn and Oilily children’s classic collection. After launching Oilily in 1963, the Olsthoorn family sold the company to venture capitalists in 2003. Last year, the venture capitalists went bankrupt and the family bought back the name. The Olsthoorns (whose extended family is involved in developing Room Seven) are now re-launching the brand. “Retailers can expect a line that comes back to its roots,” said Chas Hepler, founder of Rachele Charles Inc., U.S. importer of Room Seven and Oilily. Available for boys and girls sizes 3 months to 12 years, the kids’ collections will feature exclusive prints and pop colors such as red, orange, pink and green. Wholesale prices will remain about the same, Hepler said. Email info@oililyshopusa.com.

Catiedid Sales Opens at CMC January’s L.A. Kids Market saw the unveiling of Catiedid Sales, a showroom started by Catie Foster. Located at the California Market Center’s room B694 (formerly Knuckleheads’ corporate showroom), it is showcasing Knuckleheads, Hula Mula, Belle Parish, Squidfire, Rock Your Baby, Rubimoon, Funkoos, Hooligans Kids and more. Foster formerly worked in finance and advertising but left to help grow the Right Bank Babies label and bring Australian brand Rock Your Baby to the U.S. market. “My goal is to build a boutique atmosphere so buyers can come in and order everything in our store for their own, and it will all cross-market,” she said. Catiedid Showroom can temporarily be reached at (323) 445-6764. earnshaws.com

Kidsworld: Children’s Apparel & Accessories Market March 11-14, 2010 Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market March 25-28, 2010


licensing news Trumpette Too Bows at Target Children’s gift and apparel company Trumpette of Sacramento, Calif., entered mass retail in January with the introduction of a licensed Trumpette Too line exclusive to Target stores. Brand founder Jon Stevenson said the entry is an attempt to beat knockoff competitors at their own game, and he foresees Trumpette Too extending to other retailers in the future. Target’s spring line spans tights and socks in dots and floral prints featuring the brand’s signature trompe l’oeil details. Each 3-pack of socks will come in a gift box. All items in the line retail for $8. Trumpette Too footwear—Mary Janes, sneakers, moccasins and jellies—is in the works, and Stevenson expects to add raincoats, swimwear and more down the line. For details, call (916) 851-0000 or visit www.trumpette.com.

Pastry Pop Stars Steals the Scene Spring sees the launch of Pastry Pop Stars, a new girls’ brand spinning off the Pastry label from Angela and Vanessa Simmons, stars of the reality TV show “Daddy’s Girls.” The concept centers around four animated characters—Cashmere, a funky fashionista; Melody, a singer/dancer; Venus, a tech genius; and the athletic adventurer Star. New York’s Vida Shoes International steers the product launch with playful footwear for infants to youth size 6. Wholesaling for around $12.50 and targeting mid-tier stores, the line features “mirrorquin” sparkles that marketing director Donna Grecco said have been a huge hit with focus groups. Weeplay of New York, which produces Pastry kids’ apparel, is planning to add a Pop Stars capsule collection for holiday. Call Vida Group at (212) 246-1900; Weeplay at (212) 563-2022.

BBC Int’l Adds Sneaker Brands BBC International of Boca Raton, Fla., and Randolph, Mass., brings two familiar street shoe brands to kids’ sizes 13 to 7 for Fall ’10. National account executive Ross Tannenbaum said the Pony brand covers boys’ and girls’ running and basketball shoes, vulcanized product and more. Aimed at specialty and family shoe stores, the sneakers are made of real leather and include basic black and white plus bright colorways. Meanwhile, Tannenbaum said BBC’s line for Osiris—a brand started by pro skateboarders—will push the label beyond specialty skate shops to mid-tier and family footwear stores. The Osiris shoes include nubuck and suede hi- and lo-tops featuring glow-in-the-dark panels, skull graphics, foldover cuffs and more. Tannenbaum noted black and gray styles have been especially strong. BBC will create footwear for Osiris’ Becky Bones license as well. For pricing information, call (877) 222-7565 or visit www.bbcintl.com.

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February 2010

Hot Properties • Mad Engine has inked a deal with Lucasfilm to produce children’s apparel featuring characters from the live-action Star Wars saga, Lego Star Wars and the animated TV show “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” currently in its second season on Cartoon Network. The line features trend-driven artwork and designs and spans T-shirts, thermal tops, baseball shirts, hoodies and more. Mad Engine offers products for all sizes and retail tiers. For details, call (858) 558-5270 or visit www.madengine.com. • The National Basketball Association and Cartoon Network Enterprises are expanding their co-branded partnership for the property Ben 10 Alien Force following the ’09 youth apparel Outerstuff launch by Outerstuff. New T-shirt, sweatshirt and hoodie designs will integrate Ben 10 characters with NBA league and team logos and mascots. The new line will debut at the NBA All-Star 2010 game in Dallas this month and will be distributed via NBA arenas and stores, CartoonNetworkShop.com and NBAStore.com, and additional retail outlets. Call (212) 594-9700. • Swimwear manufacturer Blue By Yoo of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., has been signed by Van Nuys, Calif.-based Cherokee to grow its Sideout brand. The vendor will produce girls’ swimwear along with juniors’ and women’s collections. Jem Sportswear currently distributes Sideout clothing for boys. Contact Blue By Yoo at (562) 4073306. • PS Brands of New York has signed a multi-year agreement with Fila to produce licensed athleticinspired socks for children and adults. The line will be available throughout the country this spring. PS Brands also plans to introduce a line of technical socks. Call (212) 239-1485.

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Market dates and events

FEBRUARY 2-4

FFANY Hilton Hotel & FFANY member showrooms New York, NY www.ffany.org

2-4

WSA Show Mandalay Bay Convention Center & Sands Expo Las Vegas, NV (818) 379-9400 www.wsashow.com

3-4

Action Sports Retailer (ASR) San Diego Convention Center San Diego, CA (949) 226-5744 www.asrbiz.com

3-4

Embassy Suites North Shore Deerfield, IL www.midwestchildrensapparelgroup.com

5-7

Charlotte Children’s Market 800 Briar Creek Road #AA-214 Charlotte, NC (704) 376-8243

Gulf Coast Children’s Caravan Altel Arena, Rooms 1A & 1B North Little Rock, AR (800) 666-4543

Dixie Shows Mississippi Trade Mart Jackson, MS (615) 665-0084

5-8

Denver Apparel & Accessory Market Denver Merchandise Mart Denver, CO (800) 289-6278 www.denvermart.com

6-9

Deerfield Children’s Show

Grand Opening Corporate Showroom in Charlotte N.C. Children’s Mart

12-14

14-17

Toy Fair Javits Center New York, NY (212) 675-1141 www.toyassociation.org

15-17

KIDShow Bally’s, Las Vegas, NV www.kidshow.cc

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P

PA M P E R E D Baby Products & News

Rashti and Rashti onepiece and cap L’ovedbaby gender-neutral set

Baby Lulu coordinating one-piece, hat and blanket

Pitty Shants gown, cap and receiving blanket

Mooncakes side-snap top, footed bottoms and hat set

Cute as Buttons layette set with appliqué detail

His GEM one-piece, bib and stroller toy box set

Homecoming Parade Take-me-home sets do up baby’s first trip in style. –Angela Velasquez

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February 2010

Baby Beau and Belle dress, bonnet and blanket

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The North Face Bundles Up Baby The winter-wear pros at The North Face are entering the infant/toddler market for Fall ’10: The San Leandro, Calif.-based company introduces insulated weather protection, snow bibs, buntings, and fleece and down jackets, many of which are reversible. “We used the same technology and textiles found on [our] adult product to create a youth collection that is essential to outdoor activity,” said Philip Hamilton, vice president of product. “There is no compromise on fabric, performance or innovation when addressing our youngest consumers.” The North Face’s EZ Grow technology allows parents to prolong the life of snow pants via extendable cuffs, and the toddler apparel features kid-friendly zippers. The infant/toddler gear will retail for $25 to $125; for wholesale pricing, call The North Face at (866) 715-3223.

New Lines

BabyAncesTree

Masala Baby

Kissy Kissy Launches Qt-Qt New York-based Kissy Kissy goes brighter and bolder with its new Qt-Qt collection. “We have taken liberties with Qt-Qt in styles and colors that we wouldn’t be able to take with Kissy Kissy,” explained Roxana Castillo, president of the Red Bank, N.J.-based brand. The vast collection includes footies, T-shirts, pants, bibs, blankets, knit vests and more. Boys’ items feature blue monsters, dark gray and green racecars, and blue and tan trains. For girls, the line offers pink and blue hearts and stars, pink and gray snowflakes and a bubble print. Gender-neutral styles include geometrics patterns in a variety of colorways. Sizes range from 0 to 24 months. Wholesale prices are $16 to $28.50. Call (732) 345-5073 or visit www.kissykissyonline.com.

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Grippies

Petit Couture

• BabyAncesTree of Sarasota, Fla., adds a personal touch to nurseries with elegant and quirky family tree artwork. Each framed piece is available in damask, multicolor stripes or pink gingham starting at $120 wholesale. Call (941) 377-6236 or visit www.babyancestree. com. • Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Masala Baby pairs spicy colors like saffron and fuchsia with jali dot, camel and peacock feather embroidery. The line for 6 months to 4T offers mixand-match hoodies, tunics, angarkha wrap tops and sleeveless tees for boys and girls, plus layered skirts and dresses for girls. Wholesale prices are $12 to $58. Call (888) 306-6269 or visit www.masalababynyc.com. • Grippies of Bellmore, N.Y., offers a line of no-slip adhesives for the soles of socks and tights. Grippies are available in translucent iron-on star and peeland-stick bear motifs. Pink, black and white no-slip tights with already applied adhesives are also available in sizes 2 to 14. The iron-ons wholesale for $2.75; tights are $3.50. Call (516) 322-7518 or visit www. grippiesonline.com. • Modern influences, whimsical details and practical silhouettes compose Petit Couture. The Portland-based infant/toddler brand offers waffle thermals, burnout crews and cap-sleeve tees for ages 3 months to 4T, plus one-pieces for babies 3 to 24 months and a gown for newborns. Each piece features the brand’s signature owl motif and gold metallic, rhinestone or glitter details. Wholesale prices range from $12 to $30. Call (877) 201-8656 or visit www. petitcouture.com.

February 2010

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WS

W H AT ’ S S E L L I N G South New Jersey

Oopsy Daisy Tailgate Clothing Co. Heartache

The Playing Field

Luv ‘n’ Duds Kids Wear

Kidrageous

The transition to storeowner was an easy one for Marilyn Bernheim, who bought this boutique with her daughter, Bonnie Lewis, four years ago. After years as a children’s wear sales rep, she already understood product, her customer and how to sell. For 2010, the co-owners plan to expand their girls’ 7 to 16 department to include more jeans and tees for tweens slowly discovering their fashion identity. “We find now that children have their own minds and don’t want to dress the way mom wants,” Bernheim said. “We are trying to please the kids and make it easy on the parents.”

This shop’s hot pink and lime walls draw kids and adults alike inside to shop. With more than 300 styles of communion dresses and a plethora of other designs, owner Cookie Snyder makes certain her customers will find exactly what they’re after. Since buying the store seven years ago, Snyder feels she has discovered the recipe to success: paying attention to her customers’ needs. “If I don’t have what someone is looking for, I call [nearby] boutiques to see if they might have it,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to make the customer happy.”

When business partners Debbie McCusker and Kathy Koob purchased their 1,800square-foot store 10 years ago, their goal was to make customers feel right at home. With a play area for kids, Kidrageous offers parents a stress-free shopping venue. While the store is upscale, Koob said the average price point has gone down over the past year. “We’re trying to find more products that stay within people’s budgets without sacrificing quality,” she noted. Kidrageous strives to offer customers what they won’t find elsewhere and boasts an extensive boys’ section that keeps them coming back.

INFANTS & TODDLERS

• Submarine: pink bikinis with gold-accent belted bottoms • Froggy by Debra: black halter dresses with purple studded butterflies on front • Out of Control: tie-dye navy and blue pants with navy A-line tops • Ooh La La Couture: racer-back zebrapattern bustle dresses • Belle Ame: red pettiskirts • Lipstik: blue denim leggings with black eyelet tank-style tops • Widgeon: brown faux-suede coats • Juicy Couture: purple two-piece active suits with silver and white logo • Ragdoll & Rockets: three-quarter-length

GIRLS 7 TO 14

• Baby Sara: pink and brown flower-print tunics with matching leggings • Attitude Pie: pale pink tulle skirts and

matching shirts with heart appliqués and pearl and rhinestone embellishments Heartache: navy and white tie-dye tops and pants with red jeweled lips Wes and Willy: long gray fleece shorts Oopsy Daisy: cheetah-print pettiskirts Little Mass: pink, black and white leopard-print pettiskirt dresses Corky & Co.: pink swirl-pattern coats Bébémonde: white crocheted tulle-trim dresses with matching jackets and hats Angel Dear: pastel pink and white striped chenille hooded jackets Lili Gaufrette: lilac Liberty-print smocked dresses Kissy Kissy: white Pima cotton onepieces with pink trim Art Walk by My Boy Sam: blue and white striped hooded sweaters with skull-andbones buttons and matching blankets

• • • • • • • • • •

GIRLS 4 TO 6X

• Flowers by Zoe: neon tie-dye leggings with black hooded tunics • Hannah Banana: sleeveless mustard and brown ruffle-bottom dresses with heartshaped embellished patches

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February 2010

ruched-sleeve striped tunics in neon yellow and gray with gray leggings Little Marc Jacobs: navy halter bathing suits with eyelet embroidered skull

BOYS 4 TO 7

• Wes and Willy: skeleton-motif swim trunks • Wild Mango: ripped twill shorts in brown • Monster Boy: brown plaid shorts with olive Buddha tees • Monster Republic: white and black tiewaist cargo pocket seersucker pants • Charlie Rocket: gray elastic-waist swimsuits with a white and aqua print • Goldrush Outfitters: dark denim destroyed jeans

• Pinc Premium: straight-leg dark denim • JK Tees: royal blue “Be Free” tees • Butter: olive green hooded sweatshirts with a rhinestone peace sign on the back • Stosa Bella: white lace dresses with matching jackets • Christie Helene: ruched dupioni silk dresses in jade • Joan Calabrese by Mon Cheri: white lace dresses with jackets • Vintage Havana: white gauze embroi-

dered short rompers with red, blue and green embroidery Les Tout Petits: multicolored spaghettistrap bubble dresses with gold sequins True Religion: medium-wash denim miniskirts with rainbow pockets

• •

BOYS 8 TO 20

• Little Travelers: brown twill shorts • Because We Were Bored: light yellow tees with a classic car on front • IKKS: gray leather zip-front jackets with elbow patches • Quiksilver: long-sleeve, multicolor neon plaid button-down shirts • Tailgate Clothing Co.: light blue and red University of Pennsylvania T-shirts • Kingsley: light blue “Rock Fusion” Tshirts — DEL-ANN HENRY

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pincpremium.collabview.com (online catalog)


G

THE GOODS

Baby Lulu night owl set

Polka dot sleepwear by Kicky Pants

New Jammies tennis-print PJs

Little Me monkeyprint sleepwear

Sara’s Prints guitar hero set

Bed Fellows

Fanciful pajamas make the perfect companions for lights out. — Del-Ann Henry

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Under the Nile organic veggie-print PJs

Baby Steps doodle-theme set

At Home one-piece

Beeposh candyprint slippers

Sozo footed pajamas earnshaws.com

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U

U N W R A P P E D New Giftable Items

Heartstrings personalized bracelet

Templeton’s Silver convertible bracelet and binkie holder

Kalencom diaper bag with accessories

Heather B. Moore personalized ring

The Mother Load

Practical and stylish gifts new moms and moms-to-be will relish. –Angela Velasquez MomAgenda organizer

Spanx body shaper

Bébé au Lait nursing cover

Momma’s Jewels bangle and teether Baby Bee diaper backpack 22

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Kolo photo box

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C2C

C O A S T TO C O A S T Spotlighting Fashions Nationwide

Tailor Made

Babble On Kendra Lewis left one cool job for another. As a design manager for the Target Corporation, Lewis jetted across the Atlantic for inspiration and served as the creative and strategic visionary for many of the retailer’s backto-school and back-to-college merchandising concepts. Leaving it behind, Lewis opened her own boutique Bébé Babble in Edina, Minn., in 2005, bringing an edited group of nontraditional, mix-and-match merchandise with a modern sensibility to the Midwest. Last spring, Lewis launched a private-label collection, which she has begun wholesaling for fall. During quarterly meetings with a select group of opinionated shoppers, Lewis learned that moms search for clothing that can be worn as a dress one year and a tunic the next. They also like clothes that are easy to wear, she reported, and they want options—lots of them. The Fall ’10 Bébé Babble collection for girls is divided into three groups presenting moms with a trio of design aesthetics. The Sweet and Classic group for 0 to 24 months includes diaper covers and simple dresses with a vintage twist. Pieces are accented with ruching, ruffles and princess sleeves. Peace signs mixed with solid knits drive home the Mod Girl collection’s retro vibe. The range for 2- to 8-year-olds features sophisticated short flared skirts and shift dresses that Lewis described as “mini-me” looks, with gray anchoring many of the graphic prints. “If a mother says she wishes the dress was available in her size, you know it’s a guaranteed bestseller,” Lewis noted. The final grouping, Global Holiday (also for 2- to 8-year olds), has the jet-set kid in mind. Its range of dresses includes kimono and wrap silhouettes with metallic embellishments and beading. Wholesale prices range from $25 for basic knit shirts to $150 for beaded dresses. Visit www. bebebabble.com. —angela velasquez

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When established fabric c omp a ny We s t m i n s ter Fibers OK’d the idea for a girls’ apparel line, Tina Givens ran with it. In her time as a partner for the Cha rlot te, N.C ., company, Givens had often thought a clothing line wou ld provide bra nd awareness by bringing the textile vendor’s original prints to life. Catering to sizes newborn to 7 years, Biscuit & Poppet offers an “informal, dressy look ” designed to grow with the child. “It’s sort of whimsical but sophisticated at the same time,” Givens added. Naturally, the line is fabric-driven; buyers can select from four to six fabrics per piece to tailor the selection to their customers. Biscuit & Poppet comprises two collections. An infant gift collection targets retailers who don’t strictly sell children’s apparel, Givens said. The small group of about eight items is made for babies 12 to 18 months. The second collection, aimed at apparel boutiques, includes approximately 25 items and is available for infants through age 7. Key pieces include the reversible Zoe dress, with a bell-shaped silhouette and hint of a racer back; the knee-length, button-up Pearl coat, which has an Asian aesthetic; an elbow-length, drop-waist dress with a ruffled collar and hemline; and a reversible kimono coat. Tunics, pantaloons, skirts, shorts, baggy pants, capris, necklaces and hats round out the line. Eyecatching fabrics run the gamut from green and yellow dot prints to pink and orange florals to brown, yellow and fuchsia bird motifs. The palette also includes teal, turquoise, gold, aqua, lime and olive. Most of the prints sway toward the feminine for now, but Givens hopes to add some masculine designs. Wholesale prices are $12 to $48. Call (704) 329-5964 or visit www.biscuitandpoppet. com. —melissa knific

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Bird Is the Word Of all places for designers to meet, the mall was where Molly Payne and Patricia Cammareri first encountered each other. Both had 3-month-old daughters at the time, and it wasn’t long

before they put their heads together to create A.Bird. “Initially, we were just going to [design] girls’, but we realized that boys’ clothes are needed,” noted Cammareri, a former footwear designer for Liz Claiborne. She and Payne, an interior designer, launched the St. Augustine, Fla.-based line for Fall ’10 with the hopes of creating classic, quality keepsake apparel that is beautiful yet practical. “We want our clothes to be those that parents buy to pass down from generation to generation,” Payne explained. The duo describes the line—which targets kids 12 months to 6 years—as having a whimsical, English country aesthetic, driven by sophisticated fabrics like linen and playful details such as ruffles. “Every piece has its own story,” Cammareri said. For example, the Posey frock—a gray, button-down dress with lavender accents and ruffles on the bottom—is intended “for our frilly bird who wants to be taken seriously.” Other highlights include the Keely dress, a light beige A-line frock featuring a linen ruffle on one side meant to look like a bird’s wing; the Burk militaryinspired gray denim jacket with velvet elbow patches and a bird motif on the back; as well as bloomers, pirate shorts, ruffle-front shirts and more. The muted color palette features grays, beige, light blue and lavender. “We probably won’t stray too far from the color scheme,” Cammareri noted. “We want the line to kind of build on itself, so that two years from now, you can buy something that will go with what we originally [designed].” The entire line is machine washable. Wholesale prices run $35 to $55. Visit www.abirdbaby.com. —m.k.


LS

L I T T L E S T E P S Footwear Retail and Style

French Dressing

Inspired by the causal comfort seen on the poster for the musical “Hair,” Daniel Raufast launched Kickers in 1970 with a clear mission: to offer the footwear equivalent of jeans, which translates into simple shapes, elaborate leathers and soft, chunkystitched rubber soles. Since then, the brand has grown to be one of France’s most ubiquitous and beloved brands. The line is immediately recognizable thanks to signature elements like crepe soles featuring red and green circles to indicate the left versus right shoe, which show up on every pair. After conquering Europe and Asia, the brand marks its 40th anniversary by setting its sights on America. “Everybody said, ‘It’s crazy to start a subsidiary in such a difficult market,’ but retailers are always looking for newness, for beauty in brands and for something that will pull customers into the store,” asserted

Antoinette Dagobert, vice president of Kickers North America. “If you have an interesting product with interesting designs and colors and a reasonable price, it’s not impossible.” The fall collection draws inspiration from three themes: retro chic; a love of nature; and ethnic chic, with its penchant for bold, mix-and-match colors and patterns. This trio of influences is evident in oily split suedes and vintage leathers underlined with contrast stitching or handmade details. It’s also reflected in a color palette heavy on browns with violets and true leather tones enhanced with deep greens and grays, plus splashes of bright color—especially in the children’s collection. Details include Kashmiri prints, bindings, embroideries, decorative buttons and rivets. Derbies, desert boots, riding boots, moto boots and boxings also figure prominently into the collection. The full size range spans pre-walkers to teen size 41. With New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Pentland USA handling back-office operations, Kickers is also bulking up its North American sales force and working to build brand awareness among retailers and customers. The brand debuts this month at Nordstrom and Zappos.com. Wholesale prices run $29 to $56. Contact (877) 803-4677 or visit www.kickers.com.

Kiddie Classics Children’s PF Flyers is prepped for a baby-business boom. While the vintage-cool sneaker brand has offered children’s styles in the past, product manager Alana Choquette said the company is now buckling down to penetrate the segment in a more prominent way. “People are looking for PF Flyers for kids,” she explained. “A lot of our retailers say people are coming in and recognizing our color and material direction, and they want that level of product for their kids.” As such, the brand increased its children’s offerings for Spring ’10 and is upping the ante even more for Fall ’10 and beyond. The highlight in the smaller sizes continues to be PF Flyers’ Center Hi and Lo—two timeless, go-to silhouettes that have been given recent updates that Choquette said have resonated with consumers. While these styles capture a nostalgia element, there’s more to PF Flyers brand loyalty than that, she noted: “There’s a lot of great vulcanized kids’ product out there, but our take on color combinations and material [offers something different]. There seems to be a hole in the marketplace where we can fit well.” The Center sneakers are slimmer than competitors’ versions, and Choquette believes the less bulky shape

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works great for kids while the basic canvas styling complements a multitude of apparel looks. The brand initially rolled out four kids’ shoes—in bright pink, orange, blue and gray—in sizes 10.5 through adults. More unisex options and up to a dozen new colors will be added for fall. Choquette said PF Flyers is also referencing its archive of footwear designs to pinpoint which others will work for kids. “There are so many great styles,” she mused. “We haven’t even scratched the surface.” For pricing information, e-mail info@ pfflyers.com or visit www.pfflyers.com. —leslie shiers

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Market dates and events

FEBRUARY 16-18

MAGIC Marketplace Mandalay Bay Convention Center Las Vegas, NV (818) 593-5000 www.magiconline.com

18-21

TransWorld’s Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show Donald E. Stephens Convention Center Rosemont, IL (800) 323-5462 www.transworldexhibits.com

23-25

Fort Lauderdale Kids Expo War Memorial Auditorium 800 NE 8th St.

Fort Lauderdale, FL www.pciexpos.com

Dallas, TX (214) 655-6100 www.dallasmarketcenter.com

MARCH

LA Kids Market California Market Center Los Angeles, CA (213) 630-3600 www.californiamarketcenter.com

6-9

NW Kids Show – Seattle Embassy Suites Seattle Airport/Tukwila Seattle, WA www.nwkidsshow.com

7-9

ENK Children’s Club Javits Center New York, NY (212) 759-8055 www.enkshows.com

11-14

Dallas KidsWorld Children’s Apparel & Accessories Market Dallas Market Center

Join Earnshaw’s Marketplace

Earnshaw’s Marketplace maximizes the small budgets for emerging infant and toddler companies. Tout your up-and-coming apparel or juvenile product collections to retailers looking for new resources targeting newborns through pre-schoolers.

Call (646) 278-1510 amarinacci@symphonypublishing.com

19-23

20-23

Deerfield Children’s Show Embassy Suites North Shore Deerfield, IL www.midwestchildrensapparelgroup.com

25-28

Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market Dallas Market Center Dallas, TX (214) 655-6100 www.dallasmarketcenter.com 3 54


STORY BOARD

Every collection has a tale. Here, designers explain the varied influences that informed their Fall â&#x20AC;&#x2122;10 collections, from their own childhood experiences to the tiny muses who keep them in tune with the next generationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tastes. By Caletha Crawford

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Ellen Uzarowicz, founder and designer, Right Bank Babies Trademark aesthetic: We’re known for our reversibles, which is how we launched five years ago, but also for our fabrics, which are washable but definitely not your typical “kid” fabrics. We always try to stick with classics that in 10 years a kid’s little brother or sister could wear and it would still look like a fresh idea. Looking to the past: The idea for the fall collection started with a pair of miner overalls that we found in a vintage store—they had extra pockets and details that we loved. At that point, I started going through my grandfather’s turn-of-thecentury photos for more inspiration. The result is a collection that mixes thermals with cluny cotton lace and small floral prints with lots of plaids, flannels and textures in dark reds, dark navy, light blues, mustard yellow, gray and ivory. Fond memories: My mother made most of my clothes when I was little. The first dress from Right Bank Babies is based on an Easter dress she made for me. I draw from everything I had from my childhood. For next spring, it will be a bell-bottom jumpsuit that was backless and tied behind the neck. It was scandalous at my Episcopal school, and I wasn’t allowed to wear it. That will be our nod to the ’70s. Grown-up air: We’re definitely influenced by contemporary designs. That’s my design partner Lydia Dorsey’s whole perspective. Dad could be wearing our shirts for boys. I’m obsessed with layering and I try to do that as much as possible and make it simple for parents. Clockwise Carefree style: My youngest daughter from left: is extremely creative in how she combines her Right Bank Babies; clothes. She loves to layer, and that’s my inspiraBlemish; tion. It’s the way European kids have a pattern Luli & Me. blindness. I want parents to see how cute it is when kids put the looks together themselves. Reversibles give them those options. Wallet friendly: Our line has lots of selling points in this economy. We’re priced on the low end of the highend pricing, but we give you two outfits for one in the reversibles and the clothes grow with the child. For instance, a dress can be worn as a tunic the next year. Plus, many pieces are unisex. Marjon Sluijter, co-owner, design and production, Blemish Brand roots: [Co-owner] Nicole [Burges] had an agency in Holland selling other brands, and customers always requested more boys’ items—especially good pants. We launched the line in Winter ’08 with a focus on boys. We became known for our woven shirts with retro allover prints and pants with an emphasis on fit.

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The next chapter: Since then, we’ve launched Blemish Sister, which continues our success with allover prints. We’ve also been careful to include coordinating pieces, which we’ve found to be very important in the U.S. market. American customers like to buy in combination. So Blemish Sister has tees, leggings, wovens, cardigans, tunic dresses and canvas skirts. Travel log: We looked to Tibet for inspiration, but we didn’t want to be literal. We have neutral basics and prints with bright pinks and purples. In boys’, we’ve also include some monster appliqués. Money matters: We’ve worked on our pricing, but we didn’t scale back our design. In adult collections the lines have become more sober, but not in kids’ wear.

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Clockwise from far left: Maggie Breen; Tangerine Sky; Twirls & Twigs.

the collection to suit American tastes, but now the trend toward brown and gray is much more European. Fifteen years ago, Americans weren’t into brown or even lilac dresses. Seasonal updates: In the 4 to 6X size range, bright flowers are our trademark—even in fall. For the first time, we’re adding knits to our collection. Of course, we had to make it look like Luli & Me, so we have applied smocking, which customers look for from us. We’ve also added purple to the mix for the first time, since it is very much in fashion now. We also updated the smocking with gold and silver threads. Straddling the divide: I remember loving dresses with full skirts and ruffles in my childhood. We carry that princess look forward in 4 to 6X because every girl has her princess moment. By 7 to 16, it’s a different world. My 7-year-old granddaughter doesn’t want pouf. European influences: I get my best fashion direction when I travel. I love to visit Italy and see the children’s clothes there. I look through magazines. I look everywhere. Carolina Herrera said it best: If you think inspiration comes to you from heaven while you’re sitting in your office, you’re making a mistake. You have to go out and look, and you’ll come back with ideas. Economic impact: I think the economy is making us more conscious of beautiful things. We’re using more lace and ruffles in the baby line. Mothers and grandmothers want babies to look sweet. For 4 to 6X, I tried to make it even more fun with even more tulle. We believe in bad times you need nice things to cheer you up.

Cozy concerns: We want to give children choices in their clothes—but with comfort. For instance, our boys’ pants are soft, and we have long cardigans for girls that are wool on the outside but cotton jersey on the inside. When it comes to clothes, kids today are: Curious and quite trendy. They have a lot of choices, like adults do. Maria Casero, president, Luli & Me Special heritage: For 25 years, we’ve been known for classic, elegant and high-quality garments. I shop the fabrics in Spain twice a year and develop a line that is a mix between the American and European look. We always use youthful, childlike colors for

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Mary Works, president, Maggie Breen Design philosophy: We focus on fashion for the 7-to-14 girl, especially with fun fabrics and colors. We endeavor to please the girls and the moms. We try to interest the girls with bright colors and stay away from the really bare look because our customers do not want things like spaghetti straps. Feeding a demand: Our customers want dresses, dresses, dresses. We’re offering purple and sage wavy-dot print charmeuse dresses with ruffles, brown 21-wale corduroy dresses with bubble sleeves and interesting trims, as well as skirts and tops in our red and black grouping that girls can wear with our belts, which have been popular. In-house market research: I have six granddaughters, ages 3 to 20. We see all sorts of funny things that they put together, like 15 bracelets, a large purse or three scarves. Sometimes we laugh, but sometimes it looks great. Covering the bases: Within each group, we try to do something that she could wear to church, to a party and across the board. There seems to be a demand for a nice party dress that’s not too terribly expensive. Personal pick: We loved our Missoni-inspired crochet fabric in turquoise and blues, which we’ve combined with aqua poly/ spandex knit. Designing genes: I started sewing in the third grade. I was always thinking about what colors I could put together. I made

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skirts and I still remember this one pink pique skirt with eyelet trim that I made with a matching purse. Julie Crawley, merchandise manager, and Jeff Dodge, director of sales, Tangerine Sky Filling a void: (Jeff) We worked with a market survey team to interview 100 stores and determined there was a gap in the marketplace. People are looking for things that would distinguish their stores from the majors. Tangerine Sky is an age-appropriate but sophisticated line that has specialty fabrics and detailing. Dollars and cents: (Julie) Given the economy, we try to get the trend across in a less-is-more way. We don’t overload the garments with embellishments, which would raise the costs. (Jeff) The line is not about bells and whistles but about fashion integrity. Practical streak: (Julie) As a kid, I liked anything that was comfortable and cozy. Every time I pick up a fabric, I think about whether my child would want to reach for it. Growing up: (Julie) The line is for girls 4 to 14, but we aimed a little bit older than we did with our initial collection for spring. We have incorporated looks from women’s wear, but we try to make it classic with a twist. One example is our silver charmeuse jacket with georgette ruffles. Inspirational notes: (Julie) Our vintage paisley grouping has a retro ’70s feel, but we wanted to do something newer looking than tie-dye. Our designer found a vintage printed velvet jacket that looked like something Mick Jagger would wear on stage, which we reinterpret—JEFF DODGE, TANGERINE SKY ed in a printed velour—another trend right now. When it comes to clothes, kids today are: (Julie) Experts! They know what they want and they like one-shoulder garments and asymmetrical hemlines are good follow the trends way more closely than I did as a kid. That has for us to interpret from women’s wear; ruffles and large flowers a lot to do with the Internet and advertising. They’re constantly also easily translate. looking and exposed to new things. Eclectic roots: I knew I wanted to be a designer ever since I was a small child. I played dress-up a lot. I had a blue fur coat Shawna Dalton, president, Twirls & Twigs that went everywhere with me that I paired with long taffeta Brand Identity: We’re known for what we call “bountiful whimmaxi dresses. I also lived in a vintage yellow square-dancing skirt. sy.” Because we’re a green line and we combine other designers’ Kids weren’t doing that, but my mom was brave to allow me that leftovers into our collection, there’s a whimsical, all-mixed-up expression, which I think translates into the collection. aspect to our clothing that attracts kids. Plus, they respond to the Tiny muses: When I was a child, I always wanted to create my critters that we include, like Coco the Traveling Ladybug. own ensembles, so I spend a lot of time with my kids in their classUnearthing inspiration: My sister went to Bulgaria to study es, letting the children dress up to see how they combine the line. and she brought home all sorts of unusual things—among them Bargain hunting: In ’09, we tried to find eco-friendly fibers that were very interestingly carved trinkets. So one grouping of our were less expensive than modal, bamboo and hemp. We started collection is a combination of Russian folklore and these handusing recycled polyester from plastic bottles and organic cotton with carved trinkets in border patterns and details, with lots of bright the idea of trying to keep everything around $24 wholesale. We also colors driven by blues and green and roses with draping details worked with Lenzing on a Promodal that’s more affordable. and a bit of asymmetrics. When it comes to clothes, kids today are: Independent, free Creating mini-mes: We take inspirations from adults, but I thinking and, in California, they mix it all up. • have to think of our average customer, who is 3. This season, styles

WE WORKED WITH A MARKET SURVEY TEAM TO INTERVIEW 100 STORES AND DETERMINED THERE WAS A GAP IN THE MARKETPLACE. PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR THINGS THAT WOULD DISTINGUISH THEIR STORES FROM THE MAJORS.

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ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT IS as American as apple pie. And right about now, the country could use some pie. As the jobless rate increases and more manufacturing plants shut their doors, the industry is taking a second look at the tangible benefits to buying locally made products. For manufacturers, those advantages include quicker turnaround times and the agility to introduce new or custom merchandise throughout the selling season. And for retailers, that translates into fresh goods delivered closer to need. Business owners who have found success in the States noted they like giving back to their community, contributing to the economy and harvesting homegrown talent. “I’m a living example of the American dream,” said Anastasia Backstrand, the France-born designer of Orange, Calif.-based brand Tralala. “I want to support my local economy and give job opportunities to people here.” Stephanie Pytlinski, owner of Upland, Calif.-based Beary Basics, took cues from her entrepreneurial parents: “I saw how they affected all the people who worked for them in a positive way. The American dream is based on entrepreneurship and people feeling like they can dream. I’m proud to give that opportunity to my employees.” Little Mass owner and designer Tina Chang said her Los Angeles company recently hired many people who had been laid

BBB Economic factors, environmental questions and safety concerns prompt new consumer awareness about the benefits of buying U.S.-made products. BY ANGELA VELASQUEZ

not as fashionable as brands produced abroad. “I love collaborating directly with the team,” Johnston explained. “It’s gratifying to see the talent and craftsmanship that still exists in the USA.”

Quality For All Unlike distant counterparts, the chance for designers to build relationships with their local knitters, cutters and sewers serves up an opportunity to spot gaffes early, which protects companies—and ultimately retailers—from costly mistakes, late shipments and an overload of returns. Chang described the “handson factor” as a bonus specific to U.S.-made labels. “Quality control is important in this industry,” she said. Johnston agrees. “I’m responsible for the integrity of my collections,” she said, adding that her close proximity to production facilities allows her to make enhancements on the fly or try alternate techniques. “Keeping things local allows us the hands-on involvement we insist upon—with no surprises.” Backstrand noted how American-made products remain synonymous with quality—whereas consumers often link imported goods to product recalls. “With all the recalls that have happened from countries outside the U.S., we feel our customers are more

HOME

off from their previous jobs to help produce her line. “Very few companies are like us,” she said. Chang, whose father trained her to sew and design, decided to stay a domestic business mostly because she wanted to spend more time with her family. “Going overseas would have meant more travel,” she noted. Designer Toni Tierney staffs a group of stay-at-home moms in San Rafael, Calif., to craft her eponymous knitwear line. Not only is it an opportunity to offer jobs to women in her community, but Tierney said it’s also a chance for kids to see creativity at home. “After all, home economics doesn’t exist anymore in schools,” she said. Over the course of six years, Christine Johnston, founder and designer of Philadelphia’s Wonderboy brand, said she has seen increased interest in U.S.-made products. It’s one of the first questions buyers ask at market, she reported, noting, “They’re surprised and impressed to find out we’re made in Philadelphia.” This is in part because Wonderboy’s design team is doing its part to break the long-standing assumption that U.S.-made apparel is

conscious and are looking for U.S.-made goods,” she added. Part of Backstrand’s comment rings true to Marjorie Stern, the owner of the New York boutique A Time for Children. Stern is hesitant to fill her store with merchandise from China since many of her customers explicitly note they do not want toys that have been produced there. According to Bruce Wolk, author of “Made Here, Baby!,” a detailed review of more than 400 American children’s manufacturers, U.S.-made brands’ mantra should be: Don’t buy from us because we’re American and locally made; buy from us because of our quality. “American quality is unbeatable,” he stressed. Despite the country’s shift to less expensive and more price-conscious labels, the children’s market is one category where consumers are not willing to accept the risks associated with sub-par products. Wolk’s point is illustrated by the stringent controls the Consumer Product Safety Commission has placed on children’s goods under the Consumer Product

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Safety Improvement Act, which was enacted after a raft of dangerous imports entered the States.

Red, White, Blue & Green When Cristina Garcia selects merchandise for her Taos, N.M., store Lollipops, she always checks to see where it is produced. “A lot of lines are [designed] in the States and then [outsourced] to China, Mexico or Peru to be made,” she explained. “It’s very hard not to choose a line because it is created overseas, but I ask because quality and the work ethic behind the merchandise is important to my decision.” Similarly, Gina DeFrank, owner of the Raleigh, N.C., shop Moxie Kids, said she and her customers are concerned with how the products are made—no matter where they are produced. “U.S. products convey quality, and that usually means that the manufacturers are following fair labor practices. This is important to our customers and a top selling point for items,” she said. In addition to labor concerns, imports also result in a larger carbon footprint. “Shipping from other countries is not very green,” Wolk reported. The House of Mongrel brand, which is based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., opted to move

of the Bailey Boys label in St. Simons Island, Ga., said a strong re-order business makes a great selling point to retailers. “We have an advantage by producing here in the U.S. in that we can cut, sew and deliver in a matter of days,” she said. Additionally, U.S. factories can often be more flexible than overseas plants. For instance, most U.S.-made companies have lower minimums, which is proving to be a lifesaver for retailers who don’t have a lot of extra money to play with. Manufacturing in real time also opens the door for customization. “Call any company and ask for a specific product,” Wolk said. “They’ll do it and do it quickly because they want your business.” Flexibility is a key trait of Wonderboy, Johnston said, noting the company can quickly create unique or custom styles for its retail partners.

Worn With Pride It’s important to note that the Made in the USA factor alone may not be enough to prompt shoppers to spend. The goods must still be appealing and priced appropriately, according to Stern. The latter is often a sticking point with U.S.-produced goods in a time where more retailers are pinpointing “priceconscious” labels as bestsellers.

its production from India to the States because it was a better fit for the brand’s eco-friendly product. “There is fair trade in India, but I could never be completely certain about employees’ working conditions and wages,” explained co-founder Laura Wallis. Now Wallis is a short trip from House of Mongrel’s North Carolina production facilities. For Laurie Synder, owner of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Flap Happy, keeping operations close to home means conserving fuel and saving on shipping costs.

Let Freedom Ring U.S. companies have the added benefit of working unrestricted from the maze of customs laws and policies that can keep imported products in limbo. The result is quick turnaround—a benefit Chris Ziober owner of Ella Bella Children’s Boutique in Southlake, Texas, described as an important factor in selecting vendors. Domestically made brands also reap the rewards associated with quick deliveries on orders and re-orders. Diane Bailey, CEO

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GROWN

Garcia described “buying USA” as a catch-22. “Most people who ask for locally made products don’t want to pay the price that the item is selling for,” she noted. But despite the hardships being felt across the country, Garcia said people who have always bought domestic products still do. “In addition to those consumers, there are those who are feeling the need to start buying U.S.-made for the sake of making a difference,” she added. “The growth of U.S.-made companies depends on the American consumer,” Wolk said. But retailers can help stretch these brands’ reach. Wolk suggested independent children’s retailers show their support with special U.S.-made sections. Manufacturers are also upping their educational efforts. Bailey Boys, for example, plans to add extra hangtags to its clothing this year to promote this differentiator. “A lot of times we have a skewed perception and we don’t even realize it,” Wolk said. “But people feel good buying American products, and that won’t change.” •

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Retailers find ways to accommodate the unenthusiastic tween boy shopper. BY MELISSA KNIFIC

Quiksilver

BOYSTO

“Boys are not interested in clothes—only toys,” admitted 8-year-old James of San Diego, adding that when it comes to shopping, “Mom has to do the work.” That sounds about right. Retailers that carry apparel for boys noted it isn’t easy to get their attention, and it’s even harder to figure out what exactly will suit their tastes. If selling boys’ wear is hard, selling to tween boys is nearly impossible—or so the number of retailers exiting the category seems to illustrate. But it’s something like the chicken-or-the-egg question: Has the customer turned to big boxes and teen chains because there are no suitable options in other stores, or did buyers do the only sensible thing and scale back selection in response to a mass tween boy exodus? Either way, a dwindling number of boutique owners are forging ahead with this category even as they continue to lament the lack of enthusiasm for this size range on the wholesale side. One thing these retailers seem to agree upon is that for stores to crack the tween boy code, they have to be committed to making it work. “It’s a time investment,” said Tricia Monahan, owner of Lodi, Calif., children’s boutique Zoopaloop, adding that it takes some nurturing and can’t be figured out in a season or two. “It’s just a different beast.” Monahan has found great success by going directly to the source: She asks her tween nephews their opinions about clothes, has them pick out “cool” items in catalogs and then sends them to school in clothes from her shop. Monahan even hosts in-school fashion shows to make Zoopaloop a household name. Recently, Burbank, Calif.-based Play at Planet Funk, which operates four kids’ stores and 15 adult Planet Funk stores, decided to rethink the way it handles tween boys. A couple of years ago, the store pared down the category’s offerings. “It consistently wasn’t performing at the level we expected,” explained store buyer Ellen Lee. However, much to her surprise, it was a category people missed. “As we trimmed it down, we started getting more demand for it,” Lee said, noting that Play at Planet Funk is putting more emphasis on tween boys as of late. They’ve been studying adult men’s trends of seasons past to see how they might translate to the younger market—for example, skinny jeans and other “hipster” looks that proved successful last year in men’s were brought in for tweens this season. “[Men’s trends] help set the pace for our kids’ buying,” Lee added. WEIGHING IN While tween boys may cringe at the idea of having to step foot

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MEN in a mall, they certainly have opinions about clothes. “They’re conscious about what the other kids are wearing at school,” said Jennifer Mazuelos, owner of Austin, Texas-based Izzy and Ash. “They’re trying to look cool, so they’re trying to push away from the whole baby look.” In some circles, looking cool is about what label they’re wearing. “Hollister and Abercrombie play a huge role,” noted Samantha Woods, buyer for the Honeys and Heroes boutiques in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif. Colors are also important: Purples and greens won’t sell for tween boys in Mazuelos’ store, but muted hues are a surefire bet. Her top sellers in the category include tees by Kingsley and Monster Republic as well as the entire IKKS line. Mazuelos isn’t the only retailer who’s pinpointed some dos and don’ts when it comes to tween boys apparel. “If it’s cutesy, forget it,” said Carla Bank of Spider & the Fly, a store in Weston, Fla. Childish motifs will make them run, she noted, while more mature music and motorcycle themes as well as athletic apparel from brands like Nike are often winners. Woods said it’s all about non-fussy looks. “Most of my boys like things simple—not a lot of frills,” she said. An everyday, basic jean is a must-have, and she expects the debut of It Jeans to be a star in that category. “It’s a good fit, and you can’t beat it at $54,” she added. Comfort is also a top priority where tween boys are concerned. “Boys, more so than girls, are really into the way something feels,” Woods said. (Cade, a 10-year-old from Medina, Ohio, confirmed this: “I like comfortable and casual clothes more than anything else… dress shirts always seem to bother my neck.”) Woods noted that girls, on the other hand, will put on a frilly dress and demand to have it if they love the look—even if it’s itchy. Accessories can be a way to hook tweens, some retailers said. Zoopaloop’s Monahan cited her offerings—flip-flops, slip-on footwear, belts and sunglasses—as big hits. “[Tween boys] come in specifically looking for a wallet or hat,” she said. “They get more into the accessories than the clothes.” Bank of Spider & the Fly noted her surfer-style apparel makes Havaianas flip-flops, heavy chain bracelets and shark-tooth necklaces a natural fit. At Izzy and Ash, Sand Cassel’s hats flew off the shelves this past year. As far as parents’ desires are concerned, retailers agreed that price should be a consideration. It’s long been the case that parents will spend more on girls than boys, and the economic downturn earnshaws.com

Diesel

February 2010


has only magnified this trend. Lee of Play at Planet Funk says premium denim sales are tapering off, and Bank notes that today, customers want to pay half the amount they would have willingly spent on a T-shirt a few years ago. “Forget about $60 for a tee,” Bank explained. “It’s now about $20 to $30.” Retailers’ biggest complaint is not that they can’t figure out tween boys’ preferences but rather there aren’t enough vendors to accommodate the requests. Suzanne Remington, owner of The Boys Store (Theboysstore.biz), an online retailer based in Carson City, Nev., is still amazed by the “wall of pink” she sees when entering trade shows. “Almost immediately once I started working for The Boys Store, I found out that tween [boys] is the thought that’s missing,” she said. “There really isn’t that much coverage.” She has found that many lines are only offered up to a size 8, which is a problem since she offers up to size 20. “You have very few lines that go up to a 20,” Woods said, adding that “it’s a bummer” to have to turn away customers looking for clothing above a size 14. Klein said Quiksilver is her top-performing tween

boys’ brand, as it not only offers a more mature look but also the complete size range. Besides sizes, retailers also said they’re on the search for modern dress shirts and pants. Woods noted that Gap used to be one of the top destinations for boys’ dresswear, but it seems to be slipping, as her shoppers seem to be on a constant lookout for clothes in that niche. Monahan of Zoopaloop is also looking for dressier items as well as “something in between jeans and a tee and suits.” For the most part, retailers said the basics are covered by big boxes like Target and Walmart, which are forerunners due to their low prices for items that undergo a lot of wear and tear. STEP INSIDE Once the merchandise is set, the question becomes how to get shoppers into the store. Most retailers said it’s the moms who do tween boys’ shopping, whether that means picking out the items based on their sons’ requests or their personal tastes. But if you can get the boys themselves in the store—and keep their atten-

Consumer Reports

Tween boys reveal the brands and styles that get them excited as well as their almost universal love of shoes. BRANDT, 8, STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.

Who picks out your clothes? My mom. Do you like to shop? No, it’s boring! Where do you shop? Dick’s Sporting Goods and Modell’s Sporting Goods; I like to wear sports clothes. My mom likes to shop for me at Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. How often do you get new clothes? Twice a week. What is your favorite outfit? A Derek Jeter team jersey shirt and sweatpants, because they’re comfortable and I love sports. What clothes do you like? Team jerseys, sweatpants and jeans. I feel good in them. Is brand important? No. Describe your style. Cool!

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VINCENT, 12, WESTFIELD, N.J.

WILL, 8, CHICAGO

Who picks out your clothes? I pick out most of my clothes in the morning. If not, my mom does. Do you like to shop? I don’t like to shop for clothes—only toys. I like to go to Target because it has all the stuff we need: toys, clothes and other stuff. How often do you shop? About twice a year. What is your favorite outfit? “Star Wars” T-shirts with jeans, ’cause they’re comfortable and “Star Wars” is a really cool movie. What clothes do you dislike? I don’t like to wear suits, but I do like tuxedos. (Mom note: He loved being a ring bearer, so he has fond memories of his tuxedos.) Describe your style? Comfortable. Do you like shopping for shoes? Yes. I like Skechers because I think they’re cool—I really wanted the ones that blow air on your feet.

Who picks out your clothes? Most of the time my mom does. Do you like to shop? I like to shop for sneakers, shorts and T-shirts, only because these are the things I wear the most. I go to Sports Authority and Gap. How often do you shop? Every other month. What is your favorite outfit? Shorts with a college or team logo with either an Abercrombie T-shirt or college T-shirt. Anything that is comfortable and I can play sports and get dirty in! Why kind of clothes do you like? Casual clothes, because they are the most comfortable. What do you dislike? Most dress clothes, except khakis and comfortable button-downs and golf shirts. Is brand important? It’s not that important to me and most of my friends. But I do love Under Armour and Abercrombie. Describe your style? Very casual and athletic.

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tion—it’s a win-win for all. Monahan of Zoopaloop has thought this through. A few years ago, she remodeled the store, creating a separate entrance for the older kids called “Urban Jungle.” “We marketed the clothing like a store within a store,” she said, noting that even the hangtags were re-imagined to attract an older crowd. Zoopaloop has also been thinking about how to cater its age-specific in-store events to tween boys. Bank of Spider & the Fly believes image is everything. “If a boy sees that a store looks girly, they don’t even want to come in,” she noted. Her boutique is split 50/50 between boys and girls, and it’s not hard to tell the sections apart. “The boy side is very ‘boy,’” Bank said, explaining that rock ‘n’ roll and surfer themes rule. “You can clearly see that it is a different department.” Although Play at Planet Funk sells merchandise for young children, management has decided that not making it read “baby” is key. The vibe in its kids’ stores reflects their adult counterparts, Lee said, as does the music piped throughout. “We stay true to our target customer,” she added, noting that many of the apparel lines offered

in the kids’ stores are takedowns of lines the adult stores stock. At Honeys and Heroes, Woods has found that keeping older boys’ wear clearly visible is crucial. “Our [tween] boys’ section is up front,” she explained. “It’s not like they have to walk through the girls’ to get to boys’.” When the boys do come in to shop— even if they’re tagging along with mom or dad—Woods says the trip is often successful. When all else fails in terms of getting them inside a brickand-mortar, retailers try to snag them with an e-commerce site. “You might not be able to get them in the store, but you might be able to get them online,” said Remington of The Boys Store. She specifically designed a kid-friendly site so that if boys visited, they would find it easy to navigate and fun to peruse. If a store decides to sell tween boys’ merchandise, Bank of Spider & the Fly stressed that retailers can’t give it a half-hearted effort. If a mom shrugs off a store with the idea that it only carries “girl stuff,” it’s a problem, she noted: “You have to have a strong department—or don’t even offer it.” •

MAX, 11, SILVER SPRING, MD.

CADE, 10, MEDINA, OHIO

Who picks out your clothes? I usually do on the weekend, but for school my mom and dad help me. My mom seems to think I don’t match very well. Do you like to shop? Not for school clothes, but I do like to shop for sports clothes. I would much rather order everything online and just have it shipped so we don’t have to go shopping at all. Where do you shop? My mom and dad shop at Gap, Dillard’s, Abercrombie, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Nike.com, because they get good deals and I like what they can get at these stores. How often do you get new clothes? Once a month or so. I tend to get more when I grow and my old ones don’t fit well. What are your favorite clothes? Shorts, sweatpants and sweatshirts from Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. I like comfortable and casual clothes. What do you dislike? Dress shirts and dress pants. They’re not comfortable. Do you like shopping for anything? I love cool shoes. I’d buy many more if my mom and dad would let me. I also like baseball hats and ski hats with the flaps. earnshaws.com

Who picks out your clothes? I usually pick out my clothes, but I also get them on special occasions from my grandparents. Do you like to shop? Yes, there are a decent amount of clothes that I want but don’t have, and I usually look good in them. I can’t always get the clothes that I want, though, because of price or parents. How often do you shop? I get new clothes on my birthday and Christmas, usually at the start of school and sometimes in the spring. What is your favorite outfit? My skinny jeans with a half-zip sweatshirt, my orange and blue Adidas Conductor hi-tops, and a graphic T-shirt underneath. What do you dislike? Khakis or sweaters. (Mom note: He doesn’t like anything preppy.) Is brand important? Yes. I like Aeropostale, Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, Jordans, LeBrons, Vans, DC Shoes, Old Navy… Do you like shopping for shoes? Definitely, definitely, definitely! All shoes. I like hi-tops, gym shoes, flip-flops, sandals, Crocs, skate shoes, basketball shoes and cleats. Do you ever buy accessories? Wristbands, brand-name sports socks and sports bags. Also, I like necklaces and sunglasses.

JAMES, 8, SAN DIEGO

Do you like to shop? Only when there are toys around. My favorite place to shop is Toys “R” Us or the toy section in any store. My mom gets my clothes at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx because they have good brands for less money. How often do you get new clothes? Once a week. What is your favorite outfit? My [Quiksilver] Hawaiian surfer shirt! It has a story that goes with it about a surfer who died saving someone. What clothes do you like? T-shirts and shorts because I like the beach and Hawaiian style. What do you dislike? Long-sleeve shirts that don’t have any style to them. They’re too hot and not fancy. Is brand important? Sometimes. I mostly like Quiksilver and other surf brands, like Hurley and Volcom for shirts; Levi’s, Volcom and Quiksilver for pants; and Vans, DC Shoes and Etnies for shoes. Do you shop for any accessories? I like beanies. February 2010

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PERFECT FIT Partnerships between vendors and independent multi-line sales reps can be win-win, but open communication and common goals are the precursors to success. By Leslie Shiers

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We all need somebody to lean on – and that’s truer than ever in this economy. Between staff numbers shrinking, job descriptions inflating and showrooms dissolving, many brand executives have acknowledged that they wouldn’t be able to keep their business running smoothly without the support of independent sales reps. Yet sometimes the role of these reps – especially those who sell multiple lines – can be misconstrued. As manufacturers and reps from across the country shared their take on making these collaborations mutually beneficial, it became clear that healthy working relationships aren’t unlike any other human relationship: All require a little give and take and a lot of communication. The role of a sales rep seems straightforward: He or she markets and sells a line throughout a specified territory on behalf of a manufacturer, with a goal of growing the brand. Those who rep multiple lines are able to show several product lines at once, maximizing their return on each store visit. “We expect [our reps] to learn the product line and to be the ‘infield’ voice of the company,” said Ken Hamby, general manager of Jefferies Socks in Burlington, N.C. But their job doesn’t stop there, he added, noting that nowadays reps “must wear the buyer’s assistant’s hat” as well, advising retailers which items from the line will sell best in their stores. Michael Belenky, president of Cabot, Vt.based Zutano, agreed: “Our expectation is that our reps know the complexities of their territory, they develop and maintain strong relationships with buyers, and they work to really know our company and what would make sense for retailers and the brand in the long term.” Working on a more local level than the brand, reps can give buyers closer attention and service. “We expect the reps to cultivate relationships with their accounts,” said Catherine Ralphs, Zutano’s national sales manager. “They’re not just selling something; they’re building that trust.” In addition to protecting the retailers by not letting an area get oversaturated with a brand, reps simultaneously act as the manufacturer’s eyes and ears in their territory, learning what is and isn’t working in stores. That

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information is priceless for manufacturers. “We look to our reps for feedback,” Ralphs added. “It’s important, because they’re the ones who are there and understand the pockets of trends.” Stephanie Pytlinski, owner of Beary Basics, noted that when her East Coast rep informed her that the Upland, Calif.-based brand’s lightweight apparel wasn’t working on the opposite side of the country, she responded by designing more layering pieces for her fall collection. Incorporating the rep’s ground-level advice should help both parties sell more in the end. “It’s a team situation,” Pytlinski surmised. “We’re both working toward the same goal.” That goal, of course, is to maximize sales—and for any career salesperson whose livelihood is based on commissions, eyes are always on the prize. David Cooper, who reps eight lines from his Cooper Kids showroom in Dallas, said, “I will do anything from taking a line on the road, to showing it at markets, to marketing, mailing, calling—whatever it takes to get the line introduced, sold and supported in my territory.” Mary Leslie Holder, owner of Dallas-based ML Holder & Associates, shares Cooper’s attitude, noting she’ll go to great lengths to increase sales for the nine brands she represents. “Our goal is to grow their business… I guess I do everything they want me to do in order to do that.” THE GROUND RULES But that is where the definition of the rep’s role gets sticky, and why it’s important to ensure the vendor and rep are on the same page from day one. Since multi-line reps are supporting a number of companies, they don’t have infinite time to devote to each brand. Some may be selling six lines, others may have dozens. “There has to be an understanding going into the relationship,” said Sally Miller, owner of the eponymous Millton, N.J.based label. Manufacturers want to be assured their collection will receive adequate attention and promotion, and won’t get lost amid similar brands but will be surrounded by complemen-

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DEAL MAKERS & BREAKERS Unfortunately, there’s no Match.com service to help pair companies with the rep of their dreams. In an initial meeting, vendors and reps recommend cutting to the chase with these to-the-point questions. Vendors, ask potential reps: • How many lines do you already sell and which ones?

Reps, ask manufacturers: • Is your brand new to market?

• How would our brand fit into your mix?

• If not, how big is your current business?

• How much time could you dedicate to our brand?

• Which retailers are you already selling to?

• Are you based in a showroom or on the road?

• Are you consistently able to ship complete orders on time?

• How often do you travel to see accounts? How many visits do you make per season? • How much experience do you have in your territory? • What type of retailers do you have relationships with? • What’s your desired commission rate? • What additional fees do you charge, if any?

• What are your expectations for growing your brand in this territory? • Do you require your reps to purchase their own set of samples? • What type of support does your company offer its reps (i.e. marketing materials, order forms, etc.)?

• How big is your sales team and what hours do you keep? • How much business do you foresee for our brand?

† † † Don’t stop there— do some reconnaissance work. Vendors, contact other brands that have worked with the rep candidate or their retail accounts. Reps, speak with peers who have represented the manufacturer in the past or retailers who are doing business with the company. Keep in mind, said Ken Hamby, gen-

eral manager of Jefferies Socks, “Sales is very much a relationship business—people buy from who they like.” Honest feedback from former and current partners will speak volumes, but personal chemistry counts, too. “Personality is a big thing,” said Beary Basics owner Stephanie Pytlinski. “In sales sometimes you see that car salesman type. You don’t

want that [person] selling children’s clothes.” Be openminded, but be wary of clashing egos, business styles or even political opinions that could make waves in a relationship that demands working together closely. At the end of the day, noted designer Sally Miller, “You want to feel [your partner] has your best interests at heart.” — L.S.

tary lines. “Talk and lay out what your expectations are,” Miller advised, noting that vendors should be sure their rep is selling to the type of retailers they want to target. It’s important for reps to set some ground rules as well, considering many said vendors sometimes request they do things

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that aren’t in their official job description. “I only get paid for writing orders, [but] some vendors expect you to support them in the same ways a house person would,” noted Patti Bergstrom, who reps multiple lines from the California Market Center. Assisting with the actual design of the line, constructing tradeshow booths and doing customer service follow-up that should be handled by the manufacturer’s office are a few examples, she said. “The problem is that we don’t get paid for those efforts. No one likes feeling they are being taken advantage of.” If there’s one thing reps dislike most, it’s being sent after retailers who owe a vendor money. Policing payment is something Gloria Davis, a West Coast rep based in the San Francisco Gift Center, said she will do if a manufacturer asks, but she’d rather not be put in that position. “I realize that if they don’t get paid, I won’t get my commission,” she said. “But I have a relationship with these buyers… I can’t be the collections agency. I have to be more diplomatic and understanding.” Cooper agreed it’s tough to be forced into the role of the bad cop and potentially embarrassing a retailer, a situation that could jeopardize his future relationship with that store. “I don’t want to be the credit manager; I just want to sell the line,” he said. On that note, reps said manufacturers need to give them the space and freedom to sell, sell, sell. While it’s a good idea for both parties to meet at the beginning of a season to draft realistic sales goals, some reps begged off excessive paperwork and data crunching. “I feel that my sales [numbers] are the best indicators,” Holder said. “If I take a lot of time filling out reports, that’s time I don’t have to sell.” Others noted they can’t be expected to sit by the phone, as their role requires them to be busy in their showrooms or out on the road, presenting their lines. BACK-END SUPPORT Manufacturer support also plays a big role in the rep’s success, and reps defined ways companies can give them a leg up. One issue for Davis is that some vendors want her to pay for her sample set. She feels this is an investment a manufacturer must provide. “A lot try to get me to buy them and resell them later to get my money back, but that’s not my priority,” she said. “I can’t pay my bills if I’m buying samples.” Cooper stressed it is of utmost importance that a manufacturer get product samples to its reps on time. “I’m working with a perishable product,” he said, noting reps generally have just eight weeks to sell a line before stores are bought up. If a company can’t get its line together and delivered before the selling period starts—and preferably not five minutes before market—the rep’s income takes the hit. And when samples do arrive, reps like when they’re market-ready. “I want my lines ‘gummy-proof,’” Cooper said. That means each item is clearly and correctly tagged with all of the information needed to write an order. “What vendors don’t realize is that it can take hours to prepare tags and hang samples,” Bergstrom said. “That time could be used to call buyers for market appointments.”

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HASH IT OUT It also helps for vendors to include marketing materials— Ultimately, a healthy rep/vendor relationship boils down to one color brochures, postcards, posters for the showroom or tradething: communication. Especially when problems arise, “Try show booth, digital artwork for market follow-up e-mails, etc. to be as communicative as possible and be very clear about your Jerry Gibson, who reps the Southeast from his Atlanta and expectations,” said Laurie Snyder, owner of the Santa Monica, Charlotte, N.C., showrooms, said he’ll take the time to add a Calif.-based brand Flap Happy. Miller agreed, noting, “You need personal note to mailings (i.e. “Sally, this item would do well in to be flexible and open to listening—especially in this market.” your store”) and doesn’t charge manufacturers for the postage. Certain issues will require compromise, as Snyder was While reps know vendors are under pressure to solidify their reminded recently. Flap Happy’s reps do have to pay for samcollections in the days leading up to market, and thus it can be ples, and one of her reps pushed back this season, noting she tough to produce color photography for brand literature and only wanted one set despite signage, these tools can having two showrooms in make a notable difference her large territory. Worried in selling. that one set won’t suffice, For brands new to marSnyder sat down with her ket, such planning is crurep to discuss how she cial—as is patience. Reps could adequately sell the s a id ne wc omer s c a n’t line without having the expect money to come full range of samples in streaming in overnight. “I both locations. After the love new companies with meeting, Snyder decided to new ideas. They’ve found bend on the issue. “If she something innovative and can make it work, great, creative—but they have we’ve worked together,” to be prepared,” Davis she said. Mutual respect said. Especially today, she must always be present in noted, buyers are hesitant these relationships, Snyder to pick up lines without added, noting that nicka proven track record. As el-and-diming her reps such, it’s necessary to give doesn’t make sense. “I want a rep time to build busithem to stay in business.” ness, and to reassess his or As in the dating world, her sales goals throughout —MICHAEL BELENKY, ZUTANO there are times when a the season. breakup is the best deciW he t h e r a n e w or sion for both parties. The established brand, reps trick is getting out of the relationship unscathed. “I’ve seen it also lauded partners who frequently give them new ways to where it just goes to pieces,” Gibson said. “Usually it involves bait buyers. “Provide opportunities for sales,” Holder urged. egos.” He recalled cutting ties with one company after dropping Percentage-off specials, free shipping and other promotions in on a store and finding another salesman there showing the give her extra selling points when pitching to retailers. New same line. Holder noted she has dropped lines after realizing the product introductions help, too. “Sometimes stores that aren’t partnership wasn’t working, that her buyers weren’t engaging in doing well don’t want to see us,” she noted. “It helps when I the product or that the brand had gone into mass stores without have a reason to go in.” advising her. When communication or the support system breaks Offering a great product and delivering on time is vital down, the writing is on the wall. “Why continue with the line if for the rep, too. “Manufacturers need to take care of any it’s not doing either of us any good?” Holder mused. problems that come along,” Gibson said. The relationship Still, vendors see their reps as valuable partners in growing their between reps and retailers greatly hinges on trust, and brands and note the long-lasting relationships they form lend supwhen promises aren’t kept on the brand’s end, that good port and encouragement through the ups and downs of working faith can evaporate. “When you don’t have the diligence on life. “It is a marriage—but ultimately it’s a business, too,” Belenky the back end, it’s hard for the front end to work,” Holder said, adding that the partnership’s success is a joint effort. “With said. On the f lipside, Cooper commented, “If you’re lucky a good rep relationship, the commission check is the one bill you enough to get a [solid, professional partner], you work look forward to paying.” • really hard for them.”

IT IS A MARRIAGE — BUT ULTIMATELY IT’S A BUSINESS, TOO. WITH A GOOD REP RELATIONSHIP, THE COMMISSION CHECK IS THE ONE BILL YOU LOOK FORWARD TO PAYING.

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Tru Luv jacket; Jottum pants; Coastal Projections shoes.

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stroke of genius DESIGNERS PAINT A CONTRASTING PICTURE FOR FALL WITH FRILLS TEMPERED BY STRUCTURED PIECES AND METALLIC FINISHES. PH OTO GR A PH Y BY M A RT I N S A N M I G U E L


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Hair and makeup by Chuck Jensen for Mark Edward Inc. Fashion editor: Caletha Crawford

This page: Sally Miller dress and cardigan; Tic Tac Toe by Cricket Hosiery tights. Opposite page: Comus L trench coat; Saurette top; Les Tout Petits leggings; modelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s boots.

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This page: Surri dress; Vlad Knits cardigan. Opposite page: Studio 342 cardigan; Mademoiselle Charlotte skirt; stylistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tank top.

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This page: Diesel jacket and skirt; Les Tout Petits top; Prohibition leggings; Ralph Lauren boots. Opposite page: Zoe LTD jacket, Pinc Premium top, Saurette skirt, Sally Miller leggings; Little Laundry boots.

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This page: 191 Unlimited shirt. Opposite page: Scotch Shrunk top, vest and pants; modelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shoes.

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R E TA I L S P O T L I G H T

TRAIL BLAZER Through a willingness to adapt, The Kiddie Shoppe continues to find new paths to success after 78 years. By Caletha Crawford RICK MCKNIGHT IS not only the owner of The Kiddie Shoppe in Columbus, Ga., he also holds fond memories of shopping in the store with his parents and grandparents. For 78 years, the store, which has been known by several names in a few different locations around town, has been the outpost for children’s apparel. Those tender recollections plus a penchant for local businesses led McKnight into the children’s market after years in women’s wear. Since purchasing the store from the founder’s family, McKnight has provided new focus, beefed up the top-selling categories, and steered the business through both prosperous and economically uncertain times. “Buying the store was a gut decision,” McKnight said. “I had enjoyed shopping there and [so did] my kids. If the store had closed, we would have been left with big boxes.” Initially McKnight spent sun-up to sundown buying goods for a 16,000-square-foot behemoth mall space that offered everything a kid could possibly need. Between the demands of stocking such a wide selection and unsavory demographic changes happening around the shop’s location, McKnight decided it was time to relocate. The current store measures 5,500 square feet and is in an upscale shopping center that draws college-educated, stay-at-home moms. In this smaller location, he has opted to specialize in moderate to upscale apparel and accessories for newborns through boys’ size 12 and girls’ size 16. When the economy started to slow, McKnight took action. He closed his women’s shop two years ago, added toys, expanded his shoe selection and is currently planning to add kids’ haircuts to his list of services. He has also changed his apparel buying strategy. “My customer hasn’t been the hardest hit, thankfully, but I did cut back on my open-to-buy in almost every area of clothing, thinking they would buy their clothes at Target or from consignment shops,” he explained. He described the apparel he has bought as “A” product versus the “B” or “C” level items that may have made it to the sales floor in the past. “I’m looking for goods that look great but the price doesn’t shock you. I want the customer to see something they love and be pleasantly surprised by the price.” He also wants them to act fast. The Kiddie Shoppe is

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not a store that depends on constant blowout sales. Rather, McKnight has taught his customers to snap up goods they like immediately—and at times, that means even before they’ve hit the racks. “I’ve trained my customers that if you see it, you better get it, because I won’t be able to get it again,” he said. “I tell them [manufacturers] aren’t making as much and I’m not buying as much.” Except for a few disappointed shoppers who wait too close to need to buy, most consumers have taken McKnight’s advice and shop early, even happily adding their names to the store’s list of pre-orders. Though tastes in the region are typically Southern, McKnight said his area is not overly sweet and it’s definitely more casual than some neighboring cities. He calls the in-demand look “updated fashion basics.” Brands like Le Top, Sweet Cotton, Kissy Kissy, Vive La Fête, Funtasia Too, Wes & Willy, Young Colors, Maggie Breen and Bailey Boys are the store’s top sellers. When scoping new lines, McKnight said they must “have a different point of view and some fun or usefulness” to them. At one point, buying trips to New York were so frequent McKnight kept an apartment there. Now he’s found that Atlanta’s AmericasMart suits his needs. “Atlanta has done a remarkable job of putting together a package of must-sees,” he said. “I think many vendors have found they couldn’t operate as effectively or profitably without having a presence there.” Lately, the newborn through size 16 girls’ apparel segment has been “on a huge trajectory,” McKnight reported. Shoes also continue to draw customers, since that department is the only one like it for miles around, offering fitting service and widths for kids who wear up to an adult size 8.5. And McKnight said the recent addition of toys helped boost the bottom line through the Christmas buying season. Always one to see and be seen on the store’s floor, McKnight said he’s become more actively involved in selling as of late. “For the last two years I’ve scheduled myself on the floor taking the place of a salesperson,” he said, explaining that it has given him a different perspective on the business. “I work about 80 hours a week. Every Saturday I’m here. I have a great staff, but they don’t do the buying and I think that’s where it happens. It’s the product.” •

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calendar Market dates and events

MARCH 25-28

Dallas Total Home & Gift Market Dallas Market Center Dallas, TX (214) 655-6100 www.dallasmarketcenter.com

27-30

9-12

Denver Apparel & Accessory Market Denver Merchandise Mart Denver, CO (800) 289-6278 www.denvermart.com

14-16

Western States Toy & Hobby Show Long Beach Convention Center Long Beach, CA (909) 899-3753 www.wthra.com

Charlotte Children’s Market 800 Briar Creek Road #AA-214 Charlotte, NC (704) 376-8243

APRIL

TransWorld’s Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show Donald E. Stephens Convention Center Rosemont, IL (800) 323-5462 www.transworldexhibits.com

8-12

Atlanta Apparel Market AmericasMart Atlanta, GA (404) 220-3000 www.americasmart.com

15-18

MAY 3-5

ABC Spring Educational Conference Kenucky International Convention Center Louisville, KY (210) 691-4848 www.allbabyandchildsec.com

20-22

Kids in Fashion & Style COEX Hall A 1 & 2 Seoul, Korea +82 2 6000 4719 www.indexholding.co.kr

Editor’s Note: Show details are subject to change. Please call the phone numbers or check our Web site for up-to-date schedules. Show sponsors may e-mail updates to nyeditorial@symphonypublishing.com.

marketplace

Join Earnshaw’s Marketplace Earnshaw's Marketplace maximizes the small budgets for emerging infant and toddler companies. Tout your up-and-coming apparel or juvenile product collections to retailers looking for new resources targeting newborns through pre-schoolers. Call (646) 278-1510 amarinacci@symphonypublishing.com


where to buy Find tomorrow’s trends now

Pampered Baby Beau and Belle (866) 228-6969 Baby Lulu (323) 485-5858 Cute as Buttons (732) 682-3953 His GEM (636) 227-1993 L’ovedbaby (818) 992-9911 Mooncakes (305) 740-9193 Pitty Shants (210) 687-1919 Rashti and Rashti (212) 594-3733 The Goods At Home (212) 594-7714 Baby Lulu (203) 870-0980 Baby Steps (201) 641-6991 Beeposh (877) 321-2202 Kicky Pants (212) 695-2300 Little Me (212) 564-5960 New Jammies (212) 924-1816 Sara’s Prints (510) 352-6060 Sozo (203) 266-0701 Under the Nile (800) 598-1840 Unwrapped Baby Bee (619) 972-4440 Bébé au Lait (866) 940-2323 Heartstrings (800) 560-9816 Heather B. Moore (216) 932-5430 Kalencom (800) 344-6699

Kolo (800) 273-8332 MomAgenda (877) 333-2433 Momma’s Jewels (860) 573-4594 Spanx (888) 806-7311 Templeton’s Silver (843) 795-7224 Stroke of Genius

Net TULLE Tricot www.tutufabric.com Fashion Fabrics

191 Unlimited (908) 668-4380

Comus L (212) 768-1855 Cut by 2 Blondes (973) 220-6558 Diesel (212) 755-9200 Jottum (212) 695-1733 Les Tout Petits (201) 941-8675 Little Laundry (310) 838-2103 Mademoiselle Charlotte (212) 695-1733 Pinc Premium (212) 391-2535 Prohibition (845) 304-1229 Ralph Lauren (800) 632-4450 Sally Miller (888) 896-0080 Saurette (646) 729-3528 Scotch Shrunk (212) 695-1733 Studio 342 (414) 272-3222 Surri (917) 707-0490 Tangerine Sky (508) 822-8612 Tic Tac Toe by Cricket Hosiery (203) 336-4901 Tru Luv (800) 977-9086

Vlad Knits (212) 768-1854 Zoe LTD (718) 361-9022 I Spy Blush by Us Angels (213) 624-4477 Coastal Projections (212) 695-2300 Donna Chita +55 21-78-22-75-04 Dori Creations (516) 482-1125 Les Tout Petits (201) 941-8675 Prohibition (845) 304-1229 Sally Miller (212) 563-5020 Tangerine Sky (508) 822-8612 The Love of Peace (516) 445-7973 Tic Tac Toe by Cricket Hosiery (203) 336-4901

ad index Babe Ease ............................................. 53

Hawke & Co. ............................................2

Pinc Premium........................................19

Bazzle Baby........................................... 54

House of Mongrel..................................15

Pink Axle................................................ 53

Bows Arts.............................................. 53

Huggalugs ............................................. 54

Pitty Shants ........................................... 53

Chatti Patti .............................................15

Jamie Rae Hats .................................... 53

Robar.........................................................3

Dallas Market Center ...........................13

Kids Fashion ........................................CIII

Snopea ...................................................CII

Dolly & Dimples.................................... 27

Little Me....................................................1

Specialty Trade ......................................10

ENK ...........................................................4

Magnificent Baby.................................. 53

Western Chief ....................................... 25

Genuine Rose.......................................CIV

No Slippy Hair Clippy ........................... 53

Haddad..................................................5-7

Noo ......................................................... 54

earnshaws.com

February 2010

55


I SPY TO D AY ’ S T R E N D S Dress by Sally Miller

Les Tout Petits dress

Tic Tac Toe by Cricket Hosiery tights

Prohibition vest

Donna Chita skirt

Ballet flat by Coastal Projections

Shrug by Tangerine Sky Blush by Us Angels dress

4 the Love of Peace T-shirt

Lace-print leggings by Dori Creation

Delicate Designs

Designers find contemporary ways to weave lace into children’s wear. By Del-Ann Henry 56

February 2010

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New York Buzz Dannenfelser (212)695-5151 Los Angeles Teresa Stephen (213)623-8155 Dallas Greg Morgan (214)643-0100 Boston Mike Neckes (781)407-0070 Philadelphia Martin Arnold (609)471-6189 Seattle Carrie Martin (253)851-1418 Atlanta Paul Daubney (404)577-6840 Chicago Windy City Kidz (312)467-5434 Miami Miriam Devesa (305)261-5374 Canada Ravi Dhaliwal (403)252-2200

Profile for 9Threads

Earnshaw's | Infants', Girls', Boys' Wear Review | 2010 • February  

Story Board: Designers Disclose Inspiration, Home Grown: Made in the USA & the Environment, Boys to Men: Retailers Discuss Sales Techniques,...

Earnshaw's | Infants', Girls', Boys' Wear Review | 2010 • February  

Story Board: Designers Disclose Inspiration, Home Grown: Made in the USA & the Environment, Boys to Men: Retailers Discuss Sales Techniques,...