OMG! They LYK 2 Shop!

Big challenges but big profits in the Tween Market

They can’t drive, can’t date, can’t set their own rules, but boy can they shop! Tweens, ages roughly 9-13, are “the new power players of consumerism,” according to Greg Smith (“Tweens ‘ᴙ Shoppers: A Look at the Tween Market & Shopping Behavior,” POPAI White Paper).

These 20 million young Americans are responsible for $200 billion in sales a year, of which $43 billion comes from their own pocket money.

“Tween fashion is the fastest growing part of our business,” says Heather Rubino, owner of Teacup Tots. She represents children’s and tween clothing, shoes and accessory lines to stores in the Southeast.



It’s a challenging market, she explains. You have to please the young shopper and her mom, who is still buying most of the clothing. “Tweens want looks that are more sophisticated than their younger siblings, but not as flashy as that of older teens,” she says. “They are experimenting with their own style, yet want to blend with their friends. They don’t want to stand out too much.

“My biggest advice to retailers is to separate their tween section with a different entrance, look and branding. Tweens don’t want to shop in the same store as younger children,” says Rubino.

Present Multiple Personalities

Customers and sales clerks at Young Colors’ store in Denver kept pushing Donna Prescott into making her line of batik-inspired children’s clothing in larger sizes. Three years ago, she turned the loft space in her store into a tween space. “We put in shaggy carpet, book cases filled with knick-knacks, artwork and gift items—things they could buy themselves and for their friends, because this group has lots of birthday parties. They rush up there. It’s a fun and safe place for them to shop.”

Prescott designs her COLORS line of bright, comfortable dresses, separates and accessories around central palettes that can be mixed and matched, just for tweens.  “I use comfortable, quality fabrics and aim for designs that make young girls feel stylish, confident and happy, but the pieces are modest and age-appropriate to please mom,” says Prescott. Her tiered maxi dresses, poplin shirt waists, crop pants and puff-sleeved tops are popular. There are accessories to go with every look.


dress & jacket | The Klein Group

Tweens want fashion that is on trend, chic and cool, but it can’t look too mature. “We track the trends of adults and older teens, knowing that those looks will be coming down the pike for tweens soon,” says agrees Ginka Bridges, Atlanta showroom manager for The Klein Group, which represents tween lines in its iTween room. Some good examples are skinny jeans, leggings, tunics, yoga-inspired clothing, and printed palazzo pants.

Show and Listen, Don’t Tell

Bridges advises children’s retailers who want to expand into tweens to talk to their customers before buying. Focus groups are a good way to find out what they want. “It’s good to bring in higher-margin goods that you can mark down, such as a $15 top that can be sold 2 for $25,” says Bridges. This group loves give-aways (a free headband with a dress) and fashion shows.


vest | Splendid Girl | top | Ella Moss Girl | pant | Joyce Nilsson

Tweens don’t like matching outfits. Stock multiple separates. “They know their way around social media and follow trends, so in store displays, such as posters or mannequins in pulled-together looks are welcome,” says says Janet Hunter Hawkins, owner of The Children’s Clotheshorse.

Hunter Hawkins says the biggest challenge is that tweens are still trying to figure out who they are and how they want to look. Opinions can change on a dime, so having a good selection helps. “They want to feel happy, hip and confident. They like color and easy-wear fabrics—they’re still part kids,” she says. “This is a growing market and stores that get it right are profitable.”

For more information:  Klein Group  404.221.0520; Teacup Tots 800.584.3907; Young Colors 719.539.3812; and Janet Hunter Hawkins, Inc. 404.524.8897.

Outside the Lines

The modern American backyard is better than ever

Intro section image A-2Between staycations and everyday hustle and bustle, people are savoring the time they get to spend at home. The idea of entertaining friends and enjoying family time extends from bigger kitchens to home theaters to outdoor rooms.

A broader array of products and materials that are more durable – and more stylish – in a wide range of price points, makes it possible for anyone to extend living space into the backyard and do more than just sit in a lawn chair or nap in a hammock.

Outdoor kitchens rival inside counterparts with built-in grills and side burners, refrigerators and large stone countertops. Dining areas can be casual or sophisticated, depending the style of the home and the homeowners. Start with some basic questions to help guide the best options to create the ideal outdoor living space.

  1. How will the space be used? Dining, playing, relaxing or something else. Determining your top priority drives the initial emphasis, especially if the project is done in phases.
  2. How much sun? This dictates the need for umbrellas, gazebos, sunshades, etc. Should they be portable or permanent structures?
  3. Do you have adequate power resources? All the weather proof lamps are fabulous, but you still need power. Same for most water features. But, there are always lots of solar powered options too.
  4. Do you need weatherproof or weather resistant? Learn how fabrics are constructed so you have realistic expectations. The same goes for other products. Withstanding 10 hours of sun and 100 degree temps or eight months of freezing ice and snow will do a number on almost any outdoor product.
  5. A family with small children will obviously have different priorities than empty nesters reviving a love of gardening. Finding the right furniture and accessories to suit their needs will bring smiles year around when they find they’d prefer spending their leisure time at home, in their own backyard.

tab section image A-2 A fire pit provides a comfortable place to dry off after a summer swim or stay warm and roast a few marshmallows in the fall.


intro section image B-2 A round dining set with a built-in Lazy Susan and a neutral umbrella provides an elegant, stylish outdoor eating area.



tab section image C-2Everyone can’t have a backyard pool, but anyone can create a cozy seating area with comfortable chairs.

Find all the outdoor living products you need for any season in The Gardens, Building 2, Floors 9 & 10, during Markets and weekdays between Markets. There’s always a helpful staff member ready to help you find the perfect pieces for your casual living project.



Photo credits: Kipp Burgoyne Photography

Interior Design: Michelle Troxell, Grace Thomas Designs

Editorial credit: Casual Living

Classic and Chic at the March Atlanta Apparel Market


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Designers are updating classic, preppy styles with fun fabrics, bright colors and unexpected elements for Fall/Winter 2015. A few of the must-have Country Club chic items spotted at the March Atlanta Apparel Market include: What’s your favorite preppy look from the … Continue reading

Kids Trends for Fall/Winter 2015


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During March market at Atlanta Apparel, It’s a Kidsworld magazine’s Caryn Salomon shared the top children’s trends for Fall/Winter 2015/2016. We took those insights and found examples in showrooms across the 13th floor. Here’s a peek at some of our favorite fashions. Wildly … Continue reading

Modern Traditional – Tweeds & Plaids for Fall

Centuries before becoming a popular fashion basic in the U.S., tweeds and plaids were Linda Richardsstaples of the good people of Scotland and Ireland. Tweed was almost an early form of camouflage, created in muted tones to help hunters and outdoorsmen blend into the landscape. Fabrics popular among the working classes evolved to a favorite of aristocrats and now span the fashion spectrum from the style runways to the great outdoors.

For the fall 2015 season, exhibitors at Atlanta Apparel presented an array of fashion-forward collections incorporating the classics in updated looks. The most traditional versions – still created to outfit those who want to stylishly enjoy outdoor pursuits are done in fresh colors with striking accents.


Good Shot Design       Good Shot Design       Dubarry of Ireland

For more urban aficionados, contemporary cuts and detailing updates the traditional fabrics into completely modern pieces. From adding embroidery to reinterpreting the look using other fabrics to using bolder colors, there are myriad possibilities – something to suit any age consumer.

Ivko2        Karen Zambos       Silvian Heach


The key to wearing these classic fabrics is fit and tailoring. It’s essential for the tailoring to be impeccable, whether a piece is fitted, flared or anything in between. Tops, skirts, pants, jackets even vests and capes provide multiple options to incorporate these fundamental elements into a wardrobe. Young contemporary consumers can find hip pieces to layer while stylish ladies can find updated traditional options. Tweeds and plaids for fall/winter can suit anyone.
RD Style     Simon Chang     Sanctuary

Products for Pampering


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Retailers looking to incorporate bath and body products into their merchandise mix will find a plethora of artisan spa and personal care products at the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings and Holiday Market® (Temporaries and Showrooms through March 15). In … Continue reading

Make Your Holiday Shopping List – in March

While there are glimpses of spring in some parts of the country, mounds of snow cover the ground in other regions. Forget sunshine and jonquils for a moment, let’s talk Christmas. Why? Because March is the last chance for retailers to book orders for the 2015 holiday season.

ESC Trading Co. Industry veterans understand the prolonged ordering season but newcomers or those who don’t carry a lot of product might not realize how critical timing is in the world of tinsel, wreaths and twinkling lights. Manufacturing orders are placed based on the orders written at the beginning of the year during January Markets. That means March is the last order-writing opportunity for many of the most popular holiday products. Otherwise, they’ll simply be sold out.

Such long lead times makes it absolutely vital for retailers to know their customers so they can accurately anticipate what they’ll need – and want – when the holiday season rolls around again. If a retailer waits until a customer comes in and asks Midwest for something, it’s probably too late to order it. Stores have to have plan ahead for what shoppers will want before they even start thinking about summer vacations.

When shopping for the 2015 season, there are several concepts to keep in mind. Look for gilded glam with lots of gold; soft monochromatic with silver and pastels, rustic woodland colors and textures and luxe bejeweled pieces. All those choices should mean there’s something to delight every customer as soon as they finish Halloween candy and hit the stores for Christmas décor.

Sullivans           Melrose International           Homart

Find it all during the Atlanta Spring Gift, Home Furnishings & Holiday Market.