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Teens Want A Change! Surf-and-Skate Fashions Are Declining

Author: Julia Angel
Sub Headline: The Changes in the Boys' Fashion Attitude

Skate-and-SurfWhen I came across this post on Child Mode, one of the greatest and the most comprehensive children’s fashion online resources, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The teens are getting tired of the baggy sweatshirts and surf-and-skate style! Finally!

WWD reports that specialty stores for tweens and teens ages 13- to 19-year-olds, are struggling in the fashion market as consumers grow tired of the Americana and surf-and-skate fashions they’ve been purchasing for years. It seems as though teens are searching for a new look and the clothing stores are getting a little antsy about it considering back-to-school is just around the corner.

Fast-fashion retailers such as H&M, Zara and Forever 21 have seen a rise in their sales as their looks change every six weeks or less.

The retail industry analysts had agreed that the recession hangover still affects apparel spending but  disagreed on the roots of the shift in teen’s preferences. Weeden & Co. specialty analyst Amy Noblin thinks that the ability to read fashion trends has also become a problem.  There has been a clear move away from Americana and surf-and-skate fashion trends to fast-fashion shopping, made accessible by H&M. The problem is specialty chain retailers have yet to adapt to the idea that teens today aren’t simply wearing the usual style.

Hana Ben-Shabat, a partner in the retail practice at the A.T. Kearney consulting firm Ben-Shabat said the crux of the problem for many teen retailers is their business model.

“It’s not so much about the look of the merchandise,” she said, explaining that teens will always wear Americana and surf-and-skate clothing. “It has more to do with speed-to-market. If merchandise does not change frequently, the consumer won’t be as interested”.


I don’t think Mrs. Ben-Shabat realizes that she contradicts herself. According to her the look is not a problem; the fat inventories that are hard to move are. So, if the merchandise doesn’t change quickly, the consumers lose their interest.   So, if you change the color of skateboard prints on the buggy tees every 3 weeks, you are still in business. No, dear expert, the shift in preferences is there, this is why Forever21 had blossomed into a giant, by tracking the latest runway fashions and trends and turning them  into cheap merchandise with a lightning speed. This is why they came up with hip kids line HTG81, sensing the change in shopping patterns and preferences. This is why this retail giant had recently launched Love21 Maternity line and we might as well live to see their baby lineSmile The HTG81 line is a perfect fusion of relaxed California style, including surfing and skateboarding paraphernalia but in revisited, more fitted style with the unmistakable European flair.

HM_1The H&M is a definitely another retail giant that carries a torch for the fast –fashion shopping. They were the first ones to introduce skinny jeans for toddlers and their fashion forward selection combined with extremely budget friendly prices and fast turnover make them an indisputable favorite of the fashion minded savvy shoppers. The serious problem with this retailer is their online phobia, which makes their limited presence in the US territory even more painful. Dear H&M, please, follow Zara’s steps and get online!

Another retail giant offering more refined yet affordable clothes, Zara had seen a remarkable growth despite of the worldwide recession. Distribution saw 343 new stores opened in 2009 of which 98% operate in international markets.

Zara_Front_boyThanks to strong sales growth (up 9% in 2009) what we’ve all been waiting for - the Spanish group’s Deputy Chairman Pablo Isla confirmed Zara online shopping goes live in September. Yes! Even in Los Angeles, spoiled with every conceivable retail outlet, Zara’s kids’ line is only available in one location. And Zara’s Kids clothes are absolutely dreamy. The babies, toddlers and big kids collections are so distinctive, chic and refined yet in a totally hip, head turning way that I have to post a separate detailed ode to these drool inducing clothes.

The slow shift towards the more acute fashion trends’ awareness is also more evident in GAP’s boys’ collections that are getting better and better. Children’s Place and Crazy 8 are also taking notice offering a lot more style for less.

So, it IS about the LOOK of merchandise, Mrs. Business Analyst. Because, even surf-and-skate fashions could be done in style!

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