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INFANTS’, GIRLS’ & BOYS’ WEAR REVIEW

SEPTEMBER 2010 $5.00

Great Escape

Tween Fashion Goes a Little Bit Country Estate This Just In Trends to Scoop Up for Spring Sock It to ’Em United Legwear Steps into High Gear


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For all girls for all times... www.limeapple.ca

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introduces

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legwear & footwear

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OCTOBER 3.4.5 2010

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September 2010

FASHION 26 Summer Daze Tween fashion is set aglow with ruffled layers, tiny florals and rugged denim.

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CONTACT INFO Sales/Editorial Offices 8 West 38th Street, Suite 201 New York, NY 10018 Tel: (646) 278-1550 Fax: (646) 278-1553 editorialrequests@ 9threads.com

NEWS Apparel Licensing

COLUMNS

5 13 39 39

Editor’s Letter Calendar Where to Buy Ad Index

IN EVERY ISSUE

ADVERTISING Erwin Pearl Vice President of Sales Noelle Heffernan Sales Executive Alex Marinacci Account Executive Patrick Thomas Sales Representative, Canada Caroline Diaco Special Accounts Manager Jennifer Craig Special Accounts Manager Maureen Johan Classified Sales ADMINISTRATION Laurie Guptill Production Manager Melanie Prescott Circulation Manager Julie Gibson Webmaster

40 The Look: Front & Center Oversized bows add panache to bodices this season.

Pampered Unwrapped Coast 2 Coast Kicks 4 Kids What’s Selling

Nancy Campbell Creative Director

CREATIVE Trevett McCandliss Art Director

22 Spring Mix The season’s big themes may feel familiar, but designers are spicing up the selection via subtle tweaks.

10 12 14 15 16

Caletha Crawford Editor in Chief

EDITORIAL Leslie Shiers Managing Editor Angela Velasquez Audrey Goodson Associate Editors Jacqueline Micucci Contributing Editor Christine Bove Kionna Lipscomb Editorial Interns

FEATURES 18 Fortune’s Son United Legwear & Underwear continues to create opportunities with new brands, product categories and global markets.

6 8

Rita Polidori O’Brien Publisher

Clockwise from top left: Truly Me dress; Funky Junque necklace. Schatzi tunic; Ralph Lauren distressed jeans; Funky Junque scarf; Party Elegance Kidz bracelet. Denim overalls by Ses Petites Mains; A.Bird headband; Sanita clogs. Linen shirt by Havacoa; Appaman jeans; Frye boots. Photography by Candace Meyer.

Circulation Office 21 Highland Circle Needham, MA 02494 Tel: (800) 964-5150 Fax: (781) 453-9389 circulation@9threads.com CORPORATE 9Threads 26202 Detroit Road, #300 Westlake, OH 44145 Tel: (440) 871-1300 Xen Zapis, Chairman Lee Zapis, President Rich Bongorno, CFO

EARNSHAW’S INFANTS, GIRLS AND BOYS WEAR REVIEW ISSN 0161-2786 (USPS-320-090) Vol. 94 Issue 8. The business and fashion magazine of the children’s wear industry is published monthly (except for bi-monthly April/May and November/ December editions) by 9Threads, 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 9Threads. 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. 9Threads 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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S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 • E A R N S H AW S . C O M


Patience (and Other Virtues)

In business, as in life, recognizing your moment is an invaluable talent. It’s human nature to want what we want—when we want it—and to be disappointed when things don’t happen on our timeline. Not to sound corny here, but there’s often a reason why things—promotions, big orders, loads of foot traffic—don’t occur according to our accelerated schedules. All the opportunities in the world could cross your path, but if you’re not prepared, they might be less of a blessing and more of a curse. With every new endeavor there’s a learning curve. While painful to climb, it’s often easy to see in hindsight that every step was necessary. Isaac Ash, the subject of this month’s Q&A (“Fortune’s Son,” page 18), believes in steady growth and chasing only the prospects that make sense. As founder of United Legwear & Underwear, his driving principle has been to excel at every aspect of his business. His goal of being “best in class” means understanding the company’s capabilities and amassing the right team for the given tasks. Looking at his stable of enviable brands, it’s easy to think “I want that.” But it didn’t fall into place for him overnight. It’s been a steady trajectory filled with strategic decisions and careful timing. Timing also plays a big part in fashion design. Designers can feel the urge to move past a particular silhouette or hue, but jumping ahead of the market could be as det-

rimental as holding onto has-been looks. In “Spring Mix” (page 22), vendors share their interpretations of what’s hot right now. And given the lingering economic difficulties, it’s not a surprise to learn that fashion tweaks trump fashion leaps. Instead, brands are walking the tightrope between providing looks consumers are already comfortable with and adding enough spice to goose spending. As you can see from our “Summer Daze” fashion story (page 26), many tween labels have found their footing. Though the glowy photography bathes the looks in a timeless feel, be assured, the direction is very now. Also seizing the moment, Earnshaw’s owners have launched 9Threads, a digital marketing agency. This initiative extends our dedication to supporting fashion companies by providing services that will broaden their exposure within the industry as well as to consumers at large. 9Threads’ capabilities include social media marketing, digital content distribution, custom design and content, website development, mobile marketing and search engine optimization. In short, we’re offering all things digital to help you get in step with the times. CALETHA CRAWFORD Editor in Chief

EDITOR’S LETTER


apparel news Flap Happy Introduces Kai Bean Boys’ Wear Flap Happy owner Laurie Snyder has partnered with Edgars Asars, head of the contemporary fashion company Kenta Designs, to launch Kai Bean, a new boys’ brand for that combines L.A. styling with a modern menswear look. Rather than edgy, graphic looks, the pair has created a line of comfortable, seasonless basics with an L.A. sensibility. “Although it’s simple and straightforward, there’s not a lot like it on the market right now for specialty stores,” Snyder noted. The initial U.S.-made collection for sizes 12 months to 8 includes a ringer tee, polo shirt, long-sleeve top, comfy pants and a zip-up hoodie in charcoal, silver, navy, blue, burgundy and army green. The brand mixes soft cotton combed ringspun jerseys, thermal waffle knits and French terry, incorporating raw edges for a laidback look. “We’re using clean lines, contrast stitching and a combination of materials in subtle, earthy and pleasant tones,” Asars said. Kai Bean is targeted at better stores and wholesales for $13 to $24. Call (310) 453-3527 or visit www.kaibean.com.

Purebaby Organic Lowers Prices Purebaby, an Australian brand offering organic clothing for newborns through size 7, has dropped its prices for Spring ’11. “Significantly cutting the wholesale price and thus making the range even more affordable… gives Purebaby an advantage in price and opens more avenues for us to sell the range in the U.S. market,” said Ginger Dhaliwal, owner of the Tiny Ginger showroom, which reps the brand Stateside. She noted that Purebaby, which as been selling in the States for three years, was able to cut its prices by reducing its margins in expectation of increased U.S. sales. The price of its organic cotton T-shirts has been lowered 32 percent to $8.50 wholesale; sets including a top and bottom are now $17. Call Tiny Ginger at (646) 645-9773 or visit www. purebaby.com.au.

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S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 • E A R N S H AW S . C O M

NEW LINES

Gasbag

SwitchittZ

Hippototamus

Angela Frost

Giftable apparel company Angela Frost evolves its nylon/Lycra collection by adding swimwear for Spring ’11. Statementmaking styles include a one-shoulder one-piece in liquid silver; a halter-top bikini with side-tie bottoms; tie-dyed bikinis, onepieces and beach dresses in lime, aqua, hot pink and yellow; and glittery silver palazzo pants. The line wholesales for $22 to $43; coordinating widebrim sunhats ($14 )are also available. Call (805) 648-2084 or visit www. frostcool.com. • Gold Rush Outfitters is now distributing the Japanese children’s brand Gasbag, which will celebrate its 10th year in 2011. The high-end fashion line offers distressed denim, edgy cartoon tees, tank tops, polo and bowling shirts, rompers and more in eye-catching primary colors. The company employs four graphic

designers, whose tastes range from punk-y skulls and graffiti motifs to traditional Japanese themes (think cherry blossoms and kimono prints). Gasbag’s Japanese sizing fits U.S. sizes 6 to 12 months through 14. The line wholesales for $17 to $39; accessories run $9 to $15. Call (415) 513-5023. • After growing its brand through incubator shops for five years, Hippototamus is now offering its apparel for newborns through age 6 to outside retailers. Staple garments include machine-washable faux shearling coats, the popular “hippo” shorts, adjustable-bottom pants and classic layette pieces. Contact Janis Millstein Sales at (212) 239-4660 or visit www.hippotots. com. • Just a Cheap Shirt (J.A.CH.S.) brings down its men’s collection for boys’ 2T to 20, selling more than 30 fashion-forward

button-downs and snapfront shirts. Popular men’s styles were tweaked for the younger set with the addition of patches, hoods and thermal underlinings. The 100-percent cotton shirts wholesale for $18 to $26. Visit www.justacheapshirt. com. • Women’s swimwear designer Marysia Reeves is growing her children’s offshoot, Marysia Bumby, for Spring ’11. The range now includes four bikinis, two maillots and several cover-ups and is available for sizes 2 to 8. Reeves concentrates on fit but offers plentiful fashion accents, such as ruffle trims, bibs, pleating, swinging pompoms and cutouts. The designer has also added Euro-style trunks for boys. All suits are UV protected and chlorine resistant, and some are reversible. The spring palette delivers sophisticated neutrals such as blush pink, peach and taupe, with some


Kicky Pants/ Jannuzzi

Mooncakes Marysia Bumby

staple stripes in the mix. Wholesale prices run $49 to $56. Call (843) 329-3757 or visit www.marysiaswim.com. • Mooncakes bows a line of flouncy, fun pettiskirts. Each pull-on skirt is made of 30 yards of silky soft nylon chiffon and has an interior lining and a non-fraying front sash that ties in a bow. The skirts come in three sizes, which fit girls from 3 months to age 6, and six color options: Pink-Berry Sundae,

Cherry Sorbet, Hot Pink Taffy, Cotton Candy, Lollipop Swirl and Grape Gumdrop. The pettiskirts wholesale for $22 to $23 and are aimed at boutiques and specialty department stores. Call (800) 771-1617 or visit www.moon-cakes.com. • Kicky Pants and Jannuzzi have teamed on a holiday collection meant to help families celebrate important moments in their child’s life. The line features Kicky Pants’ signature

bamboo/Lycra coveralls and tees featuring Jannuzzi’s trademark appliqués in monthly themes: The January style features “2011” on the bum, July features a “Pow” firecracker theme, November has a colorful turkey tail, and December motifs include a snowflake, Star of David and Rudolf. The line wholesales for $15 to $19; each installment has a separate ship date. Call (310) 492-5707 or visit www.kickypants.com.

Girl & Co. Launches Limeapple Swimwear Girls’ activewear brand Limeapple, a division of Girl & Co., branches out with a swim category for sizes 4 to 14. Known for apparel suitable for dance, yoga and gymnastics classes, owner/ designer Debbie Naren said retailers had begun dropping hints that they’d like to see the brand try swimsuits. She describes her first installment as “very vibrant,

fun and happy.” Styles include halter-neck and cross-back one-pieces, tankinis (some with skirted bottoms), boy-short bikinis, and ruffle-top two-pieces with side-tie briefs. Limeapple hits all the big color stories with red, fuchsia, aqua, kelly green, yellow, black and multicolored options. Patterns include large stripes, checks paired with a ’70s floral print, color-blocking, peace signs and bright paint splatters on black-and-white striped bodies. The swimwear wholesales for $12.50 to $15. Call (800) 359-5171 or visit www.limeapple.ca.


licensing news

Hatley Adds Sesame Street Collection

Biscuit plush toy by Kids Preferred

Hatley’s interpretation of Sesame Street apparel will hit the market next spring, through a “modest” release of four pajama bodies (two styles for infants 3 to 24 months; two for 2T to 4T), a rain jacket (for sizes 1 to 4T), rain boots (sizes 5 to 10) and umbrellas featuring fun allover prints and appliqués of Muppet favorites like Grover, Cookie Monster, Elmo and Zoe. Hatley sales manager Adam Frost said the company found it challenging to create patterns with girl appeal, but buyers who viewed the line at last month’s ENK Children’s Club were excited to see Sesame Street products geared toward specialty boutiques. He believes the character-laden raincoats will be a huge item: “Elmo pajamas you can get elsewhere, but our rain jacket is the nicest on the market, bar none.” The collection wholesales for $7.50 for umbrellas to $22 for the raincoats; pajamas are $14. Call (800) 667-2583 or visit www.hatleylbh.com.

Ike Behar Expands Boys’ Presence With boys’ sizes 4 to 22 proving a strong growth category for Ike Behar, the men’s dress brand is beefing up its offerings through new licensed partnerships. In addition to current neckwear licensee PVH Neckwear Group—which has created a Spring ’11 collection of ties featuring various textures, unusual hues, and patterns such as stripes, paisley, neats and grids—Ike Behar has tapped Fishman & Tobin for apparel and Master Accessories for belts, small leather goods and gifts. Jimmy Rosenfeld, president of Fishman & Tobin, said his company’s partnership with Ike Behar and selection of boys’ suits and separates will help fill a void in the market. The license also gives Fishman & Tobin entry into the better tier. Master Accessories president and CEO Harold Master, noted his company will reflect the brand’s core properties with a collection of dressy and casual belts and suspenders. Contact PVH Neckwear Group at (212) 822-3066, Fishman & Tobin at (212) 8687920 and Master Accessories at (770) 242-9000.

Pastourelle Bows Laura Ashley Dresses Laura Ashley has tapped girls’ dresses and sleepwear company Pastourelle to produce a line of formal and casual dresses for sizes 0 to 16. The special occasion line is targeted at better department stores and offers a contemporary twist on classic styles with playful palettes, sweet florals and soft fabrics. “Pastourelle is well known throughout the industry for producing an incredible array of girls dresses,” said Penne Cairoli, vice president of licensing for Laura Ashley, adding that Pastourelle’s designer, Fran Arazi, has a natural understanding of the Laura Ashley brand and what customers expect from the label. The collection will wholesale for approximately $23 to $38. To view the line, contact Pastourelle’s New York showroom at (212) 594-7400.

8 S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 • E A R N S H AW S . C O M

Hot Properties Kids Preferred has been selected to create a line of plush and soft toys inspired by the Biscuit children’s books. Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by Pat Schories, the popular HarperCollins series centers on a puppy who loves school, wins a prize, meets the class pet and more. Kids Preferred will later introduce children’s accessories, bath toys, lunch bags and activity kits based on the property. The Dimensional Branding Group (DBG) is handling all licensing for “Biscuit” and is targeting apparel, room décor, interactive and collectibles. Call DBG at (415) 459-8947; contact Kids Preferred at (866) SOFTTOY. • Edutainment brand Becky Bones, which has an environmentally responsible message, has tapped BBC International as its partner for kids and teens footwear. The manufacturer is working on developing a more sustainable supply chain and

has been recycling materials and using non-hazardous and renewable resources in the production of its footwear. In addition, BBC promotes a “closed loop” process, recycling leftover and waste materials from the production of many of its collections. Twenty-five percent of the sales proceeds will be donated to grassroots environmental programs. Call (800) 6324450 or visit www.bbcint.com. • Vans has unveiled a new children’s footwear line starring the characters of the popular Nick Jr. show Yo Gabba Gabba, co-produced by The Magic Store and Wildbrain Entertainment. The brand’s classic slip-ons and Sk8-Hi Deconstruct shoes come in eight styles for boys and girls featuring character art and allover prints of the show’s bright and fun characters, Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex. Available in sizes 4 to 10 for toddlers ($32 to $37 wholesale) and sizes 10.5 to 4 for youth ($40 to $45), the collection will hit retail in November and is open to all of Vans’ global accounts. Call (888) 691-8889.

Vans’ Yo Gabba Gabba line


CALENDAR

MARKET DATES & EVENTS

SEPTEMBER 11-13 Dallas Total Home & Gift Market Dallas Market Center Dallas, TX (214) 655-6100 www.dallasmarketcenter.com

11-13 Dixie Children’s Show Rupp Arena Lexington, KY (615) 665-0084

11-13 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market AmericasMart, Atlanta, GA (404) 220-3000 www.americasmart.com

11-13 Northwest Market Assn. Show Embassy Suites Washington Square Portland, OR (253) 759-9692 www.northwestmarket.org

12-13 Gulf Coast Children’s Caravan River Oaks Convention Center Lafayette, LA (800) 666-4543

12-14 Livonia Children’s Show Embassy Suites, Livonia, MI www.midwestchildrensapparelgroup.com

12-14 Children’s Great Event Shoe Show Renaissance Hotel Newark Airport Elizabeth, NJ (718) 769-4251 www.tcgess.com

12-14 Pittsburgh Fashion Mart Embassy Suites Hotel Coraopolis, PA (740) 965-5555

12-15

19-21

United Boston Children’s Wear Show 75 McNeil Way Dedham, MA (781) 407-0055

California Kids Caravan Homewood Suites San Jose, CA (415) 297-3906

15-16

22-23

Gulf Coast Children’s Caravan Crown Plaza New Orleans Airport Kenner, LA (800) 666-4543

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

18-20

22-26

Dixie Children’s Show Jackson Trade Mart Jackson, MS (615) 665-0084

North Branch Kids Chicago Market 1229 N. North Branch, 3rd Fl. Chicago, IL www.northbranchkids.com

19-21 Mid-Atlantic Children’s Apparel Sales Organization Show Embassy Suites BWI Linthicum, MD (215) 782-9853

23-24 Chicago Children’s Wear Collective Gateway Center Collinsville, IL www.chicagocwc.com >13


PAMPERED BABY PRODUCTS & NEWS LittleMissMatched Bows Babywear at Babies ‘R’ Us

For parents who struggle to get their babies into one-pieces with narrow necklines and wind up with stretched-out garments, Big Head Baby launches a line of premium bodysuits with a zipper at the sleeve for easy on/off. Made of soft organic cotton and featuring a sporty fit, the onepieces come in bright colors and fun prints and wholesale for approximately $19. The zippers are lined so that the zipper itself never touches baby’s skin. Big Head Baby plans to add matching hats and leggings in the future. The line is open to boutiques and specialty shops. Call (650) 485-1242 or visit www.bigheadbaby.com.

©

† Best friends of the furry variety serve as the inspiration behind Lucky Puppy’s line of apparel. The company’s collection of colorful cotton bodysuits, short- and long-sleeve shirts, burnout tees, hoodies, dresses and oxfords are accented with dog-related icons—think paw prints—for sizes newborn to 6T. Caps and beanies round out the line. A portion of each Lucky Puppy is donated to organizations that help find homes for abandoned animals. The collection wholesales for $15 to $35. Call (310) 453-7836 or visit www.luckypuppyonline.com.

¢ Bobux is launching a new line of high-end crib shoes, dubbed Pram. Hitting retail in February 2011, for babies 0 to 3 months features uppers made of Eco Leather and soft but structured leather soles. The initial offering is a tight collection of four styles, including sporty looks with stripes and a Velcro strap and sweet Mary Janes with a floral embellishment. The company is positioning the Pram shoes as a gift item. Each pair wholesales for $17. Call (800) 315-3039 or visit www.bobuxusa.com. 10

This fall, the mix-and-match fashion brand LittleMissMatched bows baby apparel via Babies ‘R’ Us. Onepieces, snap rompers, bibs and more come in the label’s signature bright hues and bold graphics (think black and white stripes, mod dot prints, and screenprints of tractors and planes). The company will also add blankets, pillows, floor mats, wall decals, activity mats, mobiles and other home furnishings. The apparel will retail for $8 to $18; décor items are $10 to $180. LittleMissMatched launched in 2004 with non-matching socks, and now offers numerous categories for all ages. Visit www. littlemissmatched.com.

The Bumble Collection Drops Prices

© JJ Cole, which was recently purchased by baby gear and toy mamker RC2 Corporation, launches a new wearable blanket ($10 wholesale) that eliminates the danger of loose blankets in the crib by fitting over regular sleepwear. The sleeveless design is available in sizes 0 to 6 months and 6 to 12 months. The brand has also debuted a swaddle pouch ($6). The adjustable wrap secures baby comfortably with Velcro closures, reportedly reducing the risk of SIDS, and features a back harness for use in car seats, swings and bouncers. Both items come in bright animal prints. Call (800) 987-6828 or visit www.jjcolecollections.com.

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 • E A R N S H AW S . C O M

The Bumble Collection has slashed the prices of its main diaper bag line by up to 50 percent. Founder Jennie Lynn Johanson said she’d received many requests for bags with a highend look at affordable price points, and noticed the mid-tier void herself when preparing for her first child last year. Working with its Shanghai factory, the brand managed to reduce its wholesale prices to $19 to $39.50 without changing the bags’ materials or quality. Johanson said the company aims to make up the profit difference by appealing to more stores, in turn generating a higher sales volume. Call (626) 934-8600 or visit www.thebumblecollection.com.

† SwaddleDesigns has expanded its

line by adding new infant apparel and crib linens. The company is now selling cotton-knit bodysuits and knotted hats that coordinate with its swaddling blankets, sleepsacks and bibs. The clothing fits newborns through 12 months and wholesales for $4 to $7. In addition, 100-percent cotton flannel crib sheets ($16) have been added at the request of moms. The U.S.-made bedding fits standard crib mattresses and comes in sweet prints such as mod circles, paisleys and tiny polka dots in pink, blue, green and white. An organic option is also available ($22). Call (206) 525-0400 or visit www. swaddledesigns.com.


UNWRAPPED NEW GIFTABLE ITEMS

Harley-Davidson rocker by Kinder Kraft Plush toy by Dreamlets

Personalized tee by Pop Kid Wooden puzzle by Guidecraft

Terra Kids by Haba USA binoculars Eco-friendly lunch bag by Fluf

Monster mitts by Alex

Wooden building blocks by Hape International Alien plush toy by MerryMakers

Play mat by Eebee’s Adventures

BOYS’ CLUB

Great gifts for that special little guy. By Christine Bove 12

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 • E A R N S H AW S . C O M


CALENDAR

MARKET DATES & EVENTS

SEPTEMBER

Embassy Suites Columbus, OH (740) 965-5555

23-26 Chicago Kidz at Stylemax The Merchandise Mart Chicago, IL (312) 527-7759 www.kidzatstylemax.com

26-28 CMC Gift & Home Market California Market Center Los Angeles, CA (213) 630-3600 www.californiamarketcenter.com

23-26 California Kids Caravan Holiday Inn, Lake Tahoe, CA (415) 297-3906

29-30 Chicago/Michigan Childrenswear Farmington Hills Manor Farmington Hills, MI (312) 644-1763 www.chicagocwc.com

25-27 Florida Kids Expo War Memorial Fort Lauderdale, FL (888) 262-5009 www.pciexpos.com

29-30 Indy Children’s Show Embassy Suites North Indianapolis, IN www.midwestchildrensapparelgroup.com

26-27 Ohio Children’s Apparel Market

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OCTOBER 2-5 NW Kids Show Embassy Suites, SeaTac Airport/ Southcenter Seattle, WA www.nwkidsshow.com

2-5 Des Moines Kids Show Comfort Suites at Living History Farms Des Moines, IA (800) 223-3377

3-5 ENK Children’s Club Javits Center New York, NY (212) 759-8055 www.enkshows.com

>17


COAST TO COAST Spotlighting Fashions Nationwide

Once Upon a Line

It Figures

Leave it to a history major and a former costume designer to successfully combine two things little girls love: story time and pretty clothes. That’s what happened when sisters Heather Haas and Kit Kuriakose teamed up to launch Fiveloaves Twofish, a San Diego-based brand that’s making waves with sophisticated yet whimsical looks for girls and teens. “I write a story to go with the line every season,” said Haas, who narrates the label’s runway shows with these imaginative tales. “I always tell the story through the eyes of a little girl,” she explained, noting that the Spring ’11 collection invites youngsters to take a voyage to Polynesia with bold floral prints, gauzy hula skirts and white summer shift dresses evoking a tropical paradise. “By the end of her trip, the islands have embraced her, and she’s wearing a ruffled off-the-shoulder dress.” This vivid attention to detail is a perfect summary of the duo’s design aesthetic. “We call our studio an ‘old world design house,’ where European tradition meets California cool,” Haas said. The pair sticks to clothes for girls ages 6 through junior sizes, ensuring that their mature silhouettes are perfectly tailored to fit their bodies. The label’s crisp cotton tops and sleek jersey dresses may be refined, but bold colors and fun patterns—such as yellow polka dots and giant red poppies—keep the clothes fresh for the tween to teen set. Some of the brand’s bestsellers are its bold, bright accessories, like rainbow-hued headbands with oversized daisies and chunky, beaded necklaces. “We love big details on the little body,” Haas said. “It’s such an exaggeration—it’s so cute and so unexpected.” Despite the European emphasis, the sisters are serious about using only American-made materials and making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. “We really avoid shipping, if we can,” Haas explained. Most of the label’s fabric comes from California and all of the sewing is done by hand in the company’s studio. Haas said the idea for the brand began brewing when she started sewing clothes for her daughter, Abby. “It got to the point where people were begging me to [let them] buy her clothing.” Today, Abby serves as the pair’s resident authority on children’s trends. “A lot of our designs are actually my daughter’s ideas,” Haas said. The concept for the label’s fall line is still top secret, but look for another narrative weaving history and fashion into a fascinating mix. Fiveloaves Twofish clothing wholesales for $16 to $60; accessories are $3 to $15. The sisters also design looks for mom. Call (619) 523-1024 or visit www.fiveloavestwofishclothing.com. —Audrey Goodson

“What took you so long?” That was the question on everyone’s lips when Laurie Udy finally decided to launch her girls’ apparel line, Secretly Spoiled. Though the move may seem like quite a departure from her days as an accountant, her husband and friends knew she’d had fashion aspirations for years. “I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I love fashion,” the designer said. “Pretty much everyone who knew me could see it.” Apart from the obvious business benefits of having a head for numbers, Udy also gained invaluable contacts while auditing publicly traded companies, including the factories she sources from today. While pregnant with her daughter, she rounded up a group of designers to work for her, and Secretly Spoiled was born. “My collection has a classy, upscale look but not the upscale prices,” Udy said. “We offer the same quality but at better prices.” The brand name, she explained, came from her prediction that despite her best intentions, she’d probably end up overindulging her daughter, now 2. Initially the brand, which addresses sizes 2T to 14, focused on basics. But for Fall ’10, Udy expanded with fashion looks. According to ParBella and Friends, a showroom that reps the line, the reception has been encouraging. Udy is even more excited about the Spring ’11 line, which is comprised of three groupings. The first looks evoke beach getaways with a plethora of stripes and solids in a summery palette of navy, hot pink and yellow. Bodies in this Nautica group include flowy dresses with crisscross straps and a bold flower embellishment, sailor capris and pleated jumpers, which have proven an early favorite. Udy describes the Sweet & Sassy group as shabby chic, with statement-making black or hot pink in solids, stripes and paisley prints. Tulle skirts, striped tanks with heart appliqués, one-shoulder dresses, ruffled zip-up jackets and coordinating skirts all mix and match or pair back to basic pieces. Finally, Summer Fun offers casual looks in cool hues. Pale pink, purple and khaki Bermuda shorts, safari jumpers, tiered halter dresses and faded jeans all invite kids to play. Secretly Spoiled is currently in more than 100 doors in the United States, Europe and New Zealand. The international appeal of the line is fitting, since Udy draws inspiration from exploration. “I just love other cultures and what they have to offer,” she said. “I see the different way people dress and always want to change it up.” Wholesale prices for the Kaysville, Utah-based line run from $6.25 to $8.25 for basics to $10 to $28 for fashion tops, dresses and bottoms. Call (801) 425-0886 or visit www.secretlyspoiled.com. —Caletha Crawford

14 EARNSHAW’S • SEPTEMBER 2010


KICKS FOR KIDS Footwear Retail & Style

From Head to Toe KNOWN AS A luxury European brand for children’s footwear, Primigi has been providing “Italian style for kids” since its launch in 1976. Now the brand is delivering soup-tonuts children’s style through the addition of a new complementary clothing line for Spring ’11. To pair with the breezy apparel silhouettes, Primigi is also offering a range of trusted summer shoe designs that will provide classic head-to-toe looks. Gina LaRossa, director of marketing for Primigi USA in Hingham, Mass., said the brand’s key customers are loving the clothing line, which spans layette to size 16 and wholesales from the teens to $60. “The apparel is a natural extension of our footwear collection,” she noted. “It fills a niche that has kind of disappeared: basic quality dressing. We handpicked pieces for the States.” LaRossa said Primigi’s clothing and footwear collections will mirror each other. “If there is a nautical look, then there is a nautical shoe,” she explained. For spring, the shoe offerings veer away from the current clog and oxford

trends popular for adults. Instead, the brand is banking on sandals, dedicating 90 percent of its offering to kid-friendly, warm-weather staples. “We’ve covered every way to make a sandal for boys and girls,” LaRossa said. Natural materials like leather and canvas present an earthy vibe, and there’s an emphasis on the ankle for girls’ styles with straps, cuffs and embellishments such as rivets, beads, buttons and pearls. Boys’ styles are sportier and amphibious in nature, featuring plenty of mesh and suede combos with bright color pops. Popular colors for the shoes and clothing include purples, corals, natural tones and metallics. Primigi will also feature its traditional styles: dressier loafers for boys and shoes for girls produced with those extra touches that turn an ordinary shoe into a coveted item. “Our brand does core products with a twist very well,” LaRossa said. “We’re resistant to changing a winning formula with respect to the footwear line, so you’ll see more of the same great quality and style.” Affordability is another focus. With the recession-minded customer still cautious, LaRossa said Primigi is offering pleasant surprises on its pricing without changing its status as a premium footwear label. “As an upscale luxury brand, the biggest danger is in being reactionary and changing policies and ideals that have worked for us for a long time,” she noted. “Of course there are some concessions every company has had to make with respect to pricing and margin, but we have not made any drastic changes to how we interact with the market.” LaRossa and her team are optimistic about Primigi’s future, and with the outlook for the back-to-school shopping season much rosier than last year’s, LaRossa believes Spring ’11 sales should fare well. “The residual effect of a strong back-to-school [season] would be a great boost psychologically for the industry and for the country as a whole,” she notes. Even if the economy is still on the fritz, LaRossa is confident that the apparel launch will be a boon to the brand’s business: “There’s an elegance to this collection and a lot of attention to detail. It’s an all-encompassing line.” Call (800) 562-2212 or e-mail glarossa@primigiusa.com. —Christine Bove

Growth Category CRIB SHOES HAVE come a long way from their institutionalized styling era. From a boring and basic necessity, baby shoes have evolved into a fashion piece that can complete a tot’s look, whether it be traditionally sweet or edgy, and often a conversation piece to coo over. It’s for this reason that ABG Baby, a division of Elegant Headwear in Elizabeth, N.J., is launching a second label, Step Forward, to join its already established Rising Star crib shoe brand. According to Hillel Kirschner, the company’s design director, parents nowadays are purchasing baby shoes for specific outfits or special occasions—often in multiples—and Step Forward will give customers a new option. Both Rising Star and Step Forward offer a full line of soft- and hard-soled shoes for infants and pre-walkers. But while Rising Star concentrates on updated basics, Step Forward will address of-the-moment trends, such as grafitti prints and bold hues. “We look to fashion when creating our lines, and now we are seeing much in the way of color, sparkle and metallics playing an important role in footwear,” Kirschner said. For Spring ’11, the company is covering all bases with multiple categories: sneakers (including hi- and lo-tops plus laceless and twin-gore styles); dressy, special occasion footwear; and casual shoes and sandals—an area in which Kirschner has witnessed a lot of recent growth. While styling is always key, ABG Baby shoes are also known for their good fit and Velcro and elastic

closures for easy on/off. Affordability is also taken into consideration. “Retailers like that we bring high fashion at low prices,” Kirschner reported. Since ABG Baby’s start in 2007, the company has reached $10 million in annual sales. Kirschner said the plan is to double that number by the end of 2011. “[Soft-sole shoes and pre-walkers have reached] a whole new level as far as being a true fashion accessory for kids,” he says, noting that thanks to this rise in consumer interest, ABG’s goal is well within reach. Call (212) 695-8520 or visit www.abgbabyonline.com. —C.B. E A R N S H AW S . C O M • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 1 5


WHAT’S SELLING

INFANTS/TODDLERS

Full of Beans

Seedling Kids: organic, U.S.-made unisex one-pieces in bird’s nest, robot and tree themes Heyne Bogut for Otto and Lulu: cotton dresses and tees in pink, dandelion and olive Luxe Baby: three-piece wrap kimono sets Fore! Axel and Hudson: foliage rompers with golf cart trim Rowdy Sprouts: rocker tees and Bob Marley one-pieces in red, yellow and green Young Colors

A/C Pink 7: gray dresses with diaper covers Daily Tea: rompers in Prioska Blossom and Folk Floral prints Nesting Doll: pomegranate-colored tees and boot-cut leggings in indigo Kissy Kissy: velour footies in fuchsia; pink and blue two-piece kimono sets with footed pants Under the Nile: organic Egyptian cotton unisex one-pieces, footies and long-sleeve crossover undershirts with footed pants in sage Charlie Rocket: tees and matching striped pants in pear

Entering its 25th year this month, Full of Beans is celebrating by going greener, said owner Mare Hutchens, who is trying to support local vendors as well as U.S.-made and fair trade products. Her cozy, playful store offers moderate to upper tier, age-appropriate children’s clothing and gifts. Hutchens plans on offering earlier promotions to incite buying for the coming holidays and upping store promotions in her area. “I’m attracted to smaller magazines and newspapers with ongoing ads, so [I can] change [the content] to reflect the season,” she explains. This year, she believes her retro toys will prove popular stocking stuffers.

Ajovi’s House

Ajovi’s House, which opened in 2009, allows Sherrie Richardson to stock the items she always wanted for her two kids. “We try to bring different styles to the D.C. area that other boutiques don’t offer,” she explained. Richardson will promote a lot of special offers through the store’s website for the holiday season, and she plans to make a big push on Facebook and Twitter. Along with that, she will have models clad in Ajovi clothing strutting their stuff in the local malls, directing traffic to the shop.

Desigual

Under the Nile

Dawn Price Baby

With two D.C. stores, Dawn Price Baby gives the best of both worlds. The Capitol Hill location has a homey feel, described owner Dawn Price, who opened that location in 2004. Meanwhile, the Georgetown store (added in 2007) is open and airy thanks to tons of windows. For the holidays, Price plans to push personalizable items via various online promotions. She believes the economy is turning around—slowly. Customers are still “wary about purchases, but more strategic,” she noted. Overall, Price is optimistic that this holiday season will be better than the last.

GIRLS 4 TO 6X Designers and Artisans by Karthika Audinet: jewel-tone fairtrade sundresses that turn into jumpers and matching accessories Eye Spy: multicolor cashmere or cotton dresses with simple bodies

RETAILERS IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL EXPLAIN THEIR PLANS FOR MAKING THE COMING HOLIDAY SEASON FESTIVE AND PROFITABLE. —christine bove

Belle Amê: hot pink, red, baby pink and lavender bloomers Mim-Pi: red polka dot hooded dresses; white tulle skirts Tea Collection: roll-hem denim pants and lace dresses in heather gray Mimi and Maggie: patchwork skirts with mosaic flower embroidered tees and fuzzy cardigans Pink Chicken: generously cut, flowy cotton dresses

Mini Shatsu: unisex cotton shirts Fore! Axel and Hudson: striped suspender shorts; tie placket polos with a skull print Knuckleheads: logo hoodies in teal, black and white Daily Tea: mix-and-match graphic tops and solid pants in various colors GIRLS 7 TO 14

BOYS 4 TO 7 Monster Republic: T-shirts with a Bob Marley print Wes and Willy: cotton tees with sports or peace prints E-Land Kids: dressy seersucker shorts, pants and jackets 16 EARNSHAW’S • SEPTEMBER 2010

Siaomimi: aqua and coral cotton sweaters with big buttons on front Young Colors: multicolor cotton tiered skirts in pink, blue and red Millions of Colors: tangerine or gray rompers with matching cardigans Mula Mula: denim jumper dresses

Desigual: reversible hoodies with a flower print in red, plum and green; floral leggings in red and plum BOYS 8 TO 20 Desigual: gray and white cotton hoodies; dark wash Keemun 5005 basic skinny jeans; blue and black hoodies ACCESSORIES/GIFTS PluiePluie: raincoats and matching rainboots Young Colors: large cotton brimmed hats Mirasa Designs: stuffed animals Tuff Cookie: ‘monster’ hats with eyes,

teeth and a mohawk with matching fleece jackets featuring a ‘monster’ hood Pediped: classic patent leather sandals from the Flex collection Aden + Anais: blankets, sleeping sacks and washcloths 3 Marthas: oversized terry hooded towels with embellished sailboat and giraffe designs Oopsy Daisy: easy-to-clean placemats for kids Angel Dear: soft, washable cashmere animal lovies FULL OF BEANS AJOVI’S HOUSE DAWN PRICE BABY


CALENDAR

MARKET DATES & EVENTS

OCTOBER 9-12 San Francisco Children’s Wear Show 888 Brannan San Francisco, CA (415) 861-7733 www.888brannan.com

10-11 Illinois Children’s Apparel Group Embassy Suites St. Charles, MO (800) 223-3377

10-12 Mid-Atlantic Children’s Apparel Sales Organization Show Doubletree Suites Hotel Plymouth Meeting, PA (215) 782-9853

10-13 ABC Kids Expo Las Vegas Convention Center Las Vegas, NV (210) 691-4848 www.theabcshow.com

13-15 California Kids Caravan Embassy Suites Monterey, CA (415) 297-3906

14-18 Atlanta Children’s Apparel & Accessories Market AmericasMart Atlanta, GA (404) 220-3000 www.americasmart.com

15-19 LA Kids Market

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

18-22 California Kids Caravan Location TBD Los Angeles, CA (415) 297-3906

18-22 NY Kids Market Week 34 W. 33rd Street New York, NY www.nykidsmarket.org

21-24 Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market Dallas Market Center Dallas, TX (214) 655-6100 www.dallasmarketcenter.com

21-24 TransWorld’s Jewelry, Fashion & Accessories Show Donald E. Stephens Convention Center Rosemont, IL (800) 323-5462 www.transworldexhibits.com

22-26 North Branch Kids 1229 N. North Branch 3rd Fl. Chicago, IL www.northbranchkids.com

23-26 Kidz at Stylemax The Merchandise Mart Chicago, IL (800) 677-6278 www.kidzatstylemax.com

Editor’s Note: Show details are subject to change. Please call the phone numbers or check Earnshaws.com for up-to-date schedules. Show sponsors may send updates to editorialrequests@9threads.com.


Q &

a

Fortune’s Son

Of course, neither of those IT’S OFTEN SAID that you moves would have been successmake your own luck. Though it’s ful if Ash hadn’t been prepared unclear where the expression to take advantage of the oppororiginated, one only has to look at tunities. Among the personality the trajectory of United Legwear traits that aid him in business & Underwear to see its truth. are his ability to notice everyIsaac Ash, who started the New thing and his willingness to take York-based company 12 years ago, it all in—whether it’s a new cut his teeth in the legwear indusproduct at the mall, his family’s try while working in the family advice about how to be a better business, Ash Hosiery, with his salesman, an employee’s suggesgrandfather, father and uncle. tion for capturing more market At 18, he was selling socks door share or the smallest article in to door after high school. From Parents magazine mentioning a there, he worked his way up until mom who desperately needs to finally he was ready to use those be introduced to the concept of experiences and the wisdom he’d baby legwarmers. It is this keen gleaned from his family for his eye and talent for seizing the own venture. Ash said he just moment that has helped Ash knew it was time to do his own position United Legwear as a thing. The confirmation? When United Legwear’s relationship with Puma has been going for 11 years and counting. go-to source for all things socks, he called his initial business parttights, leggings and—thanks to ner to inquire about working torecent expansion—now bodywear and shoes. gether, Ash found that he’d had the same idea. The exec’s spongelike mind has served him well, esSuch coincidences are a running theme for Ash; the most recent occurred when he decided to purchase the pecially while under the tutelage of his grandfather (and BabyLegs brand. Ash—who said his wife, 2.5-year-old namesake), who took a special interest in his future. To this daughter and a 1.5-year-old son are his litmus test for all day, Ash often quotes his grandfather’s wisdom and conof his products—brought home a pair of the brand’s baby siders it as he goes about his daily life. “He was really the legwarmers, and they immediately got his wife’s stamp of one who schooled me, although I must have [tried to] quit approval. One day he decided to call the owner, who hap- 15 times,” Ash recalled. The senior Ash didn’t allow that to pened to be on the verge of shuttering the company due to happen. Instead, he kept his grandson in line, much as his fallout from the financial meltdown. Instead, she got on own mentor had during his days at the I, Shalom handkera plane to New York the next day to hatch a plan to save chief company. As the story goes, the elder Isaac Ash—then a young man—got angry after his boss singled him out for the label. 18

Photography by Candace Meyer. Portrait by Morgan Donovan

Raised in a family of salesmen, United Legwear & Underwear president and CEO Isaac Ash was prepared when the opportunity to start his own company presented itself. Twelve years later, the self-proclaimed visionary has the infrastructure in place to seize a multitude of new prospects. By Caletha Crawford


Q &

a

goofing off, even though about 30 of his peers were also messing around. So he quit. Unfortunately for him, his mother was having none of it and marched him back to the office to ask for his job back. It was only then that he learned why he had been singled out. “Shalom said, ‘The reason I yelled at you is because you’re The company the one who has the drive, and you’re gois launching ing to be a boss one day. I see it in you,” Zutano legwear for Spring ‘11. Ash said. Upon hearing this story, the younger Isaac finally understood why his grandfather had been so tough on him; he was preparing him so he could reach his fullest potential. With the addition of BabyLegs last year, Ash took the advice of another elder—this time his dad, Eddie. “My father told me something years ago: ‘Stay at one thing, do it well and then add your brand extensions on eventually,’” Ash mused. “That’s where we are now. I’ve been at this for 12 years, and it’s time to expand.” Today, the company’s roster of brands includes Puma, Skechers, Rockport, Cynthia Rowley, Baby Genius and the newly added Zutano. And in addition to BabyLegs, Ash is looking for other “meaningful” businesses to acquire. He is also branching out into new product categories, namely underwear and footwear. No matter which direction he moves next, quality will remain the company’s top priority. As his experience in legwear has taught him, if you offer a top-notch product, you create customer loyalty. “Legwear is not a primary reason for shopping. It’s an impulse buy or a necessity buy,” he said. “[Consumers] walk through Foot Locker, remember the Puma socks they bought and they’ll pick up a pair or two. That’s the key—the experience. A sock that wears well that consumers get their value out of [will prompt them to] go back to that store and purchase it again.” How did you get your start in the legwear business? From 1988 to 1998, I worked for Ash Hosiery. In 1988, I started selling slouch socks out of my mother’s car. I was 18 years old. Half my friends were going out to smoke pot and eat pizza. I had one SKU of slouch socks in 35 colors. I felt like a Baskin Robbins. After school, I went all over New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. I walked into any and every store that had socks. I’d come home at 7 or 8 at night and hand my father a yellow pad with handwritten orders. What’s the most valuable lesson you learned from working with your family? I’ll never forget the day I made a sale for 90 cents apiece. The line sheet said $1.10, but I thought [the reduced price was justified because] I got double the quantity. My grandfather said, “But you gave the goods away! Are you a salesman or an order taker?” The key, he explained, is to sell your product and tell the customer why you need the $1.10 rather than give the goods away at 90 cents. Anyone can give goods away. Also, if you’re going to ask for the $1.10, the quality had better be there. I learned to put the money into the product and ask for [the full price] rather than take the money out and try to do the volume. That’s why I’m still going strong 11 years with Puma, and we just signed on for more years, because anyone who buys the Puma product loves it.

20

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 • E A R N S H AW S . C O M

Sounds like the experience was a great springboard. How’d you make the leap from employee to owner? I needed my own space. There were too many Ashs in the office. I had a chance encounter with the head of IMT Accessories. The company was opening up divisions—bags, accessories, underwear—and I thought maybe they’d want to start a sock division. I called the owner and asked if I could come talk to him. He said, “I was going to call you. I have your number right here.” I got chills. I went to meet with him, and he offered me an office and said good luck. From there, I hustled and used their back office. Early on, I was doing Target’s infant, toddler and kids private label. Then Puma came along. I made a presentation for Puma in 1998. I proposed six styles: three men’s, three women’s. That was it. Puma is with me to this day. The president of Puma said, “No one [else understood] the brand in 1999. You got it. We just needed a good sport sock or two, and you did it.” I translated the brand’s identity into legwear. To this day, the president uses me as an example. From there, I kept on doubling the Puma business, and as it grew, United Legwear grew. Puma has obviously been an important partner for you. What’s your strategy for selecting brands? We’ve picked some great partners. A lot of brands have wanted us to compete in the sports lifestyle world. No need—we have Skechers, the global leader. Who [could be] better than that? We’re at the mid tier in doors like Stage Stores and Sears with its U.S. Polo Association label. I would never think of putting Puma there, but that brand gets me in those doors. We have Luvs at Family Dollar. Cynthia Rowley is our high-end designer. We like pushing the envelope to make some runway product for her, and some of those designs make it to retail at places like Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman. We play at multiple tiers of distribution, but we want to be the best at each level, and the product shows it. I won’t put out a product that I won’t put on myself or my family. That’s the bottom line. What makes a brand a good fit? Which is more important, the brand’s equity or the people behind the label? It’s a 50/50 mix. You have a lot of brands out there that have a lot of brand equity but the people behind it don’t understand us and aren’t visionaries like me. I like to partner up with other visionaries that get me and my company, and then we’re off to the races. What I love about Baby Genius is that [its licensing agent] Joester Loria is great and I love the educational piece behind the property. I think it could be the next Baby Einstein. But I signed on because of the great message behind it—I love the Circle of Education [the musical system for early learning the brand developed] and because Larry and Howard Balaban [the owners] are so charitable. Zutano is a another good example. I know from meeting [owners] Michael and Uli Belenky and seeing their dynamic that there’s only one way to go with them, and that’s up. We’ve signed on for multiple categories, from legwear to footwear to rainwear. We’re ready to take that brand to the next level with them. They are not the biggest, but they are best in class. There’s a huge canvas there.


Even with your background in the legwear business, there must have been difficulties early on. What was your biggest challenge? When I went out on my own, I knew nobody overseas. Learning the supply chain from Asia and how to get product to market was interesting and a learning curve. When I started, the bulk of the business was in Korea, then it moved from Korea to Taiwan, then Taiwan to China. There were bumps in the road, but you figure it out. They’re good partners over there. But China has changed. It is absolutely a different model and more dynamic now than it has been over the last 20 years—and that affects everything, so you have to be on your game. Sourcing is my next initiative. Everything is set here in New York, but supply chain efficiencies and getting product to market and dealing with the new China is next. I’ve hired an in-house head of sourcing and factory compliance so that, just as we’re best in class, we’re only going to work with best-in-class factories that are approved, audited, and socially and environmentally compliant. It’s key. I’m following the Puma brand’s example. Social and environmental compliance is huge for them. We’re looking at ways of using less packaging. We’re looking at how we can give our factories better, quicker information so that their time-in-action calendar runs smoothly rather than having to make last-minute changes, which forces them to have three or four different shifts plus overtime. I’m looking at what we can do here to make a change over there, which will benefit us here. And now you’re not just sourcing overseas, you’re shipping worldwide. We’re in every retailer in the U.S. [that we want to ship] and are now shipping globally. Dubai, Panama, the U.K., Australia—these are all countries that are dying for our product. Instead of a brand going to get European licensees, we now have United Legwear Asia, which opened two years ago. And we’re shipping globally so there’s one consistent sock or legwear out there. The global nature of this business often proves to be the biggest hurdle for new companies—even those with great products. At your size, you must have certain advantages. I have an opportunity because people are coming to us knowing our buying power, our warehousing power, and our sales and marketing power. We can take a brand or a company and plug it into the model. It’s efficiency of scale. I have the staff in New York for sales. I have the systems in a 100,000-square-foot Edison, N.J., warehouse. I have a 75,000square-foot warehouse in Commerce, Calif. So we’re ready to plug in other businesses. I look at companies that have a great core and a great product but they’re drowning in today’s business culture. For instance, I could lower people’s freight charges by 20 percent because of the number of containers we’re bringing in. If someone is paying 10- to 15-percent warehousing charges, we [can lower that]. That’s 25 percent found right there. So I think people in the kids’ industry are really looking at United Legwear and companies like us to see how we can do something together. You have to look at business in different ways now. You have to find ways to survive. BabyLegs is a good example of a company that you plugged into the model. Why did that acquisition make sense? What I saw in BabyLegs is a great name and brand equity and the respect the brand has with the mommy bloggers and cyber moms. It meant something other than being the biggest. BabyLegs had a great run, but with the credit crunch, banks were clamping down and BabyLegs was a couple weeks away from disappearing. I saw the brand at retail and gave the owner a call. I’ve pumped thousands of dollars >36


Children’s wear directions may not shift as fast as adults’ trends, but mild tweaks and spicy treatments give the new seasonal selection fresh zest. By Leslie Shiers

SPRING MIX What’s hot for Spring ’11? Fresh designs are sprouting up, but don’t expect an all-new slate of trends. Skinny jeans aren’t fading, the boho look is still in and nautical themes persist as a perennial spring staple. “The thing we’ve discovered over the seasons is that nothing moves very quickly [in children’s wear],” said Fiona Coleman, senior editor of kids’ wear for WGSN, a London-based global trend forecasting service. “There’s a slower pace when

Monnalisa Fendi Kids

it comes to kids’ fashion, and we’re finding that gives [manufacturers] time to evolve the trends more.” This isn’t a bad thing, since long-lasting appeal gives shoppers more reason to invest in a piece, as they’re assured the style won’t be considered passé within months. And as a result, Coleman noted, designers can push the themes further, turning out styles that offer greater longevity and elevated interest.

Still, buyers obsessively searching for the latest fashion pulse won’t be left in the lurch. There is newness on the market; it just takes closer examination to find. Subtle evolutions—such as a switch from gold hardware to bronze, or to a new type of heather gray—should subliminally trigger consumers’ impulse to buy. And rest assured, Spring ’11 collections are offering heaps of cuteness, comfort and quality to keep your customers coming back for more.

BOHO BABES Mixed prints, exotic inspirations and a touch of tomboy are playing into this season’s twist on bohemian styling for girls, while boys’ wear absorbs the look, too. According to Khalym Schell, children’s editor for the trend forecasting firm Stylesight, last seasons’ entries are being updated with a retro or vintage spin. Clashing hues in unexpected combinations such as red, pink and green result in an explosion of color, she added. One of Schell’s favorites from the recent European shows was the collection from Belgian designer Dominique Ver Eecke, who used kitschy prints straight out of a retro kitchen or the pages of a Golden Book title. “I think she’s at the forefront of mixing and matching prints,” Schell said, describing the designer’s directional color pairings and distinctive dresses bearing oversized prints that resemble Norman Rockwell paintings. For Coleman, this theme also embraces some rural, country looks, with checks, small florals and denims entering the mix. She noted that Fendi succeeded with this slant in its debut children’s collection for spring, which gave boho a preppy tweak. Isaac Maleh, merchandising director for Weeplay Kids, said Pastry’s spring collection also incorporates countrified mashups—look for dresses with bandanna prints in varied scales, plus sweet ginghams and ditsy-print florals, which appear in hoodie linings. Sarabanda


SAILING AWAY A new spring season brings another tidal wave of nautical-themed apparel, but not all designers have taken the idea so literally. Coleman said brands like Little Paul and Joe, Calvin Klein and the Spanish label Pili Carrera are giving a nod to nautical roots, but increasingly they are taking liberties to make the concept their own. You’ll still see Breton stripes, gold buttons, rope details and anchor motifs, she said, but the colors and shapes have changed. Meanwhile, trompe l’oeil art continues to add a playful effect. Pastry has followed in the footsteps of Jean Paul Gaultier, as Maleh noted its nautical grouping abandons the expected navy and red for shades of teal and berry. The brand is also going beyond cotton, offering woven seersuckers and adding fresh, fun details, like boat and anchor charms affixed to belt loops, which girls can later attach to bracelets. And rather than the expected sailor dress, Pastry is giving the popular romper silhouette the naval treatment, adding stripes and braided embellishments but not losing the label’s DNA. “You can always maintain the integrity and vision of a brand and still be trend right,” Maleh said.

TAILORED TOTS Babywear straightens up for spring, thanks to classic silhouettes and a move away from complicated designs. “I feel [baby] is a little cleaner and not so overdone,” noted Christine Hinz, creative director for Tawil Associates’ Absorba line. “More and more, baby is following the older kids,” said Coleman, adding that Simonetta and Roberto Cavalli are offering smart, dressedup looks—think pint-sized polos and blazers—for the smallest of tots. The pinks and blues of basic layette take on pale retro shades, from blush pink to chambray blue, and feminine details have sprouted up in this category, largely in the form of ruffles, as seen at Guess Kids. Nancy Sommer, creative director for Juicy Couture, another baby line from Tawil, noted that the popularity of women’s rompers means more creative freedom when dreaming up new one-piece styles for baby. The recent trend toward shoulder details has also trickled down, she said: “Of course we wouldn’t do shoulder pads, but we’ve styled things with more emphasis on the shoulder. You might see a longer ruffle on the sleeve, or a puffed sleeve—elements that are familiar in children’s wear but still give a nod to what’s happening in women’s fashion.”

Calvin Klein Jeans Junior

Simonetta Baby

Roberto Cavalli Baby Elisa Menuts

Pili Carrera

Little Paul & Joe

23


DKNY Boys by Parigi

SURF’S UP Expect boys and girls alike to be riding a wave of neon brights, Hawaiian prints and surf motifs into next summer. From preppy polos and sophisticated jumpsuits to scruffier beach bum styles (what Schell calls “tacky tourist looks”), the concept combines Polynesian culture with ’90s hues in a tropical thunder. “Color still drives this trend,” Coleman noted. Diesel and Sonia Rykiel chose can’t-miss fluorescents, while brands like Sarabanda brought flamingo pink even to boys’ styles, pairing the shade with denim for more masculine appeal. These brights come in several strengths: virtually eye-blinding, faded out for a lived-in effect or softened when offset by clean white. From exotic dresses to surfer-girl separates, designers are reviving dip-dye techniques and other fabric treatments from the 1990s, while screenprints highlighting surfboards, palm trees and hibiscus flowers will be omnipresent.

Silvian Heach

Tumble ‘n Dry Garcia

Mexx

ACTIVE ENDEAVORS For Lindsey Samuelson, the head designer for DKNY Boys by Parigi Group, active and tech-heavy looks will be the No. 1 trend. Guided by shapes and details that men’s and women’s designers sent down the runway during Fashion Week, along with material innovations from technical brands like Patagonia and The North Face, look for DKNY’s line to include an abundance of synthetics, transparencies, hot color pops and futuristic details. Windbreaker silhouettes and other light layering pieces will prove important, she predicted, while graphic references—think abstract geometric designs, pixilated prints and exaggerated plaids—will appeal to tech-minded kids. Look for saturated colored denim to take a backseat to tinted jeans—grayish washes with a hint of color (Samuelson expects electric blue will be hot for boys)—while ripped up styles fade in favor of cleaner, streamlined versions. Schell believes doubled-up layers will be big—and that doesn’t stop with twofer tees. She’s noticed plentiful shirts with attached vest or cardigan pieces, and shorts layered over pants or tights. Coleman said past seasons’ rock ‘n’ roll looks are being replaced by a slicker motorcross style, where padded knees and seams appear on neater slim silhouettes. This follows the direction of the men’s market, she added, noting the grunge trend is moving out. “Everyone wants to dress down but still look smart.” 24 EARNSHAW’S • SEPTEMBER 2010

Miss Blumarine

John Galliano Kids


S E E D S O F I N S P I R AT I O N

Just where do kids’ designers begin when cultivating a brand’s wardrobe for the new season? Here, there and everywhere. Take a look at what’s steering modern children’s wear: Corporate Parents

Foreign Markets

Pop Culture

Adult brands like Guess and Diesel blaze traild for their children’s counterparts (licensed out or not), and the colors, embellishments, treatments and details find their way into the smaller sizes. Overseas partners also help set the direction. “Season to season, Absorba France sends us their key silhouettes, and that informs a big part of our line,” noted Christine Hinz, creative director of Absorba at Tawil Associates.

Innovation is imported thanks to showstoppers found at Playtime Paris and Pitti Bimbo, plus designers’ shopping trips abroad. Whether it’s Japanese women adopting kiddie looks or the delightfully clashing colors spotted in Copenhagen, U.S. brands are absorbing and twisting overseas style for their homeland.

Celebs (and their offspring) continue to provide fodder for kids’ brands, which seem to be catering to Shiloh Pitt’s penchant for tomboy looks and Suri Cruz’s girly-girl taste for spring. But broader macro trends also play a role: For example, Samuelson suggested that the market’s new crop of pixilated patterns and digital imagery can be linked to the importance of technology in today’s world.

Runway photos courtesy of Pitti Bimbo except Silvian Heach shot (provided by the brand); show floor product photos supplied by WGSN; DKNY Boys photo by Parigi Group.

Designer Runway Shows Whether it’s active looks from Alexander Wang or Alexandre Herchcovitch’s blazing neon colors, cues are coming straight out of New York and Paris Fashion Weeks, where presentations paved the way for trickle-down trends like the boho look and abstract, geometric prints.

Fashion Leaders Several designers confessed to keeping close tabs on J.Crew’s Crewcuts collection for fresh ideas, while fast fashion retailers like H&M, Zara and Forever 21 present an onslaught of shapes, cuts and bodies that spark ideas. DKNY Boys designer Lindsey Samuelson said she looks to performance brands like The North Face, Nike and Patagonia, which always turn out cutting-edge fabrics, construction and technologies.

Street Style Blogs When The Sartorialist and Face Hunter began hitting headlines, we knew it was only a matter of time before blogs like Planet Awesome Kid and Mini Hipster would start following the younger set. Designers agree that these sites provide easy access to key information about what kids are wearing now. >36

Woolrich

FEMININE WILES Think pretty: Girls’ looks cater to little princesses with abundant frills and flounces. Sommer said playful feminine looks make up one of her top stories for the season, and she’s focused on movement with chiffon and soft knits, adding circular-cut ruffles for extra flair. Girly and sweet, white eyelet fabrics are popping up in styles for baby through size 14, both in trims and full dress bodies. According to Coleman, brands have found ways to feminize even the most casual tops with luscious layers of silk and chiffon. She lauded Dutch brand Scotch & Soda’s new girls’ label, Scotch R’Belle, which is based on the women’s collection and offers beautiful styles for girls. Schell said some of her Italian favorites also went girly, with brands like Miss Blumarine and Miss Grant incorporating oversized pearls and rhinestones for maximum impact. While dresses and tunics remain important pieces for girls, separates seem to be emerging once again. Coleman said this is coming from women’s designers, who have become increasingly focused on the waist (consider current ready-to-wear favorites like pegged pants, and flowy blouses paired with skirts or trousers). “This trend will take some time to come through on the commercial level, but we’re definitely seeing that the more forward-thinking brands are pushing it further,” Coleman noted.

Sarabanda Miss Blumarine


Truly Me layered tank dress, Funky Junque necklace. 26


28


Hair and makeup by Chuck Jensen for Mark Edward, Inc.

Button-down shirt and denim shorts by Joe Black. Opposite page: Long denim jacket by Mack & Co., Hudson Threads dress, Sanita clogs.

29


Romper by Pinc Premium, Bella Bliss tank, beaded bracelet by Party Elegance Kidz.


31


Knuckleheads shirt, pants by Iwanit. Opposite page: Ralph Lauren blouse, denim shorts by 3 Pearls.

32


34


Eddie Pen floral camp shirt, Dino e Lucia tee, eyelet shorts by Kanya, The Silver Company necklace. Opposite page: Blazer by Dino e Lucia, Isobella & Chloe dress, Marili Jean flower clip (worn as pin). 35


Spring Mix • continued from page 25

S P R I N G I N G F O R WA R D

Designers and trend forecasters rattle off the recent trends that failed to leave a lasting mark. —L.S. The boyfriend jean didn’t really translate—on a small girl, it’s just a baggy jean. Capris and Bermuda shorts aren’t trending either. Instead, it’s all about the pegged pant or rolled-hem shorts. And the ‘shark tail’ [hem] is over. Everyone OD’d on it. —Isaac Maleh, merchandising director for Pastry Kids, Weeplay

Dresses have been the biggest thing for girls in recent seasons, but now separates are becoming more important. We had expected to see loads of maxi dresses at market, since they were so strong in women’s last year, but you do get surprises. And I don’t think I’ve seen as many skulls this season, which is a miracle. —Fiona Coleman, senior editor of kids’ wear, WGSN

Retailers were optimistic about the one-shoulder looks we tried last year, but they didn’t really perform. Another thing we’ve discovered is that, for our age group [0 to 24 months], drop waists are important, but the item can’t have a banded bottom. A band doesn’t stay in place if a child is crawling around or being picked up. Their figures just aren’t conducive to that silhouette. —Nancy Sommer, creative director for Juicy Couture Kids, Tawil Associates

On the denim front, rip-and-repair seams seem dated to me. And colored denim has made a shift—shades of gray are much more prevalent, sometimes with a slight color tint. —Lindsey Samuelson, head designer of DKNY Boys, Parigi Group I definitely saw fewer tutus this season—or if I did see one, it was more of a layered, tutu-like skirt, with a hanky or eyelet hem. I’m happy we’ve evolved beyond tulle, still capturing that pretty skirt for girls but using more interesting fabrics. —Khalym Schell, children’s editor, Stylesight

Q&A • continued from page 21 into the company. We have tripled the sales on the BabyLegs website. I was able to come in, stave off the bank, buy the company, save nine or 10 jobs, support them in warehousing and back office, and stay out of their way. How do you know when you’re ready for these moves—opening the Asia office, adding bodywear, buying companies? It’s a feeling—and a matter of when the opportunity presents itself. If I have people who can handle it, then I’ll do it. Another thing my grandfather told me is to know what you do and do that well, but know what you don’t do and go out and get people who can do those things. That has been the key in hiring employees. I tap into other people’s experiences to support me and the company. I say to someone like Gennie [Murphy, senior vice president of brand marketing and sales], “You worked at a Fortune 500 company. I didn’t. I came from a family business. You need 36

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 • E A R N S H AW S . C O M

to apply what you know here.” My eyes are open and I’m tapping in to these people’s skills. At the end of the day, the final decisions are mine—but it’s not my way or the highway. This company is very family, organically structured. Everyone is great at what they do and they have a sense of ownership. I call it “skin in the game.” They know where I came from—from selling socks on the streets to 10 years later starting my company and then buying out my partners in 2007. I have their respect, and that’s what I care about. I like to breed a positive, upbeat atmosphere, and that encourages people to stay. Some people have been here for eight, nine and 10 years. That’s why I didn’t pull back in the recession. I added staff, because I think in times like this you get good people who may have been laid off from larger corporations and who can add immediate experience to the team. Or you can get brands that other people weren’t doing the right job with, like Rockport. I’ve been strategic.

At the onset, did you ever predict your company would experience the steady growth that it has? It was more of a feeling that I have something very special here, and if I could just solidify what I started and add on with good people, I knew we would have something going. I envisioned this, and then some. Again, it’s not about being the biggest; it’s about being meaningful in the category. If you’re meaningful and you do the right job, the sales will follow. Do you have any predictions for the future of United Legwear? It has been a great ride so far. At the end of the day, I think there’s so much potential. I am so excited about the future of the kids’ legwear and accessories industry. So much can be done from a merging, co-branding, licensing perspective. There’s so much excitement out there. •


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The biggest spring looks for the tiniest tastemakers


WHERE TO BUY

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Net TULLE Tricot UNWRAPPED Alex (800) 666-2539 Dreamlets (206) 923-8311 Eebee’s Adventures (212) 595-1088 Fluf (416) 362-3583 Guidecraft (507) 647-5030 Haba USA (315) 685-6660 Hape International (780) 467-9772 Kid Kraft (800) 933-0771 MerryMakers (510) 451-2254 Pop Kid 07545 371167 SUMMER DAZE 3Pearls (212) 947-3443 A.Bird (904) 710-3549 Appaman (212) 460-5480 Bella Bliss (866) 846-5295 Dino e Lucia (212) 564-3031 Eddie Pen (212) 564-3031 Frye (212) 888-1280

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AD INDEX Babe Ease .............................................38

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Huggalugs .............................................37

Pinc Premium .......................................17

Bella Bling .............................................38

Jamie Rae Hats ....................................37

Pink Axle ...............................................37

Bows Arts ..............................................38

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Rock Me .................................................21

Dallas Market Center ..........................7

My NapPak ............................................37

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Western Chief ......................................5

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Nowali ....................................................37

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E A R N S H AW S . C O M • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 3 9


THE LOOK

FRONT & CENTER From subtle to dramatic, bow motifs integrate seamlessly into spring collections. by caletha crawford

Marmalade bubble

Halabaloo dress

Little Bean dress

Biscotti dress Sally Miller dress

Mayoral dress

Eva & Oli shirt

Erge tee

Stella Industries dress

40

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 • E A R N S H AW S . C O M


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