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.

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

If The Shoe Fits: Tips For Incorporating Footwear Into Your Store

Cinderella discovered that the right shoe can change your life. Marilyn Monroe mused if you “give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” Top retailers know that introducing shoes into their product mix can change their business.

Learn how you can incorporate shoes into your clothing store with these tips:

High Heeled Shoes At Atlanta Apparel Market LEARN THE TERMINOLOGY. Like any industry, shoes definitely have their own jargon. Brush up on manufacturing terms, heel descriptions and shoe parts before you place an order. It’s also important to understand differences in shipping terminology – open stock means you can order a combination of sizes, case pack means that you receive a manufacturer-selected assortment of sizes that can be based on most popular sizes, availability or both.  Knowing these terms will help you better work with the lines.

UNDERSTAND SIZING. While they are based on a different numbering system, apparel sizing techniques can be applied to shoes. Introduce a shoe line like a new clothing line – with the most common sizes, 8 and 9. Once you have the line for a while you can adjust your ordering based on your customers’ needs. As with clothing it’s also important to know nuances in sizing across the world. European styles do not have half sizes and British size equivalents are one less than their American counterparts.

SURVEY YOUR STORE. Most people like to sit down when they try on a pair of shoes. Do you have a place for them to take a seat? Also look at what your sales associates are wearing and encourage them to wear styles you’re selling.

Shoe Buyers at Atlanta ApparelESTABLISH YOUR SERVICE LEVEL. Do your customers prefer to work with a sales associate? Feature a few shoe samples on the floor and have the associates bring the correct sizes out the customer with a few more options. If your store is more self-service oriented, stock the inventory on the floor and make sure the shoes are ready to be tried on: lace them up, remove any extra packaging and organize them by size and style. It’s also helpful to have a supply of disposable footies available near the try-on area.

ACCESSORIZE. The right accessories to go with your shoes aren’t just bags, jewelry and scarves, also consider carrying heel inserts, dust bags, tights, socks and hosiery that complement your product mix.

CREATE COMPLETE LOOKS. Dress your customers from head to toe. Include shoes with your display outfits or show them with a complementary accessory. Will those wedges look great with your “it” bag? Show them together and create a must-have fashion moment.

Boots at Atlanta Apparel MarketWORK WITH THE SEASONS. Shoes tend to have a longer shelf life, so you can continue to keep them fresh throughout the change in season. A great boot pairs with tights and a dress in the Fall and a heavy sweater in the Winter. Mix up your styling to showcase the shoe’s longevity and show your returning customers how great the shoes she bought from you last month look with a whole new outfit.

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR BRANDS. Many people are shoe brand loyalists. Use their passion for the line to drive sales to your store. If the brand allows it, use their image or name in your advertising and store displays. Use the brands to get their loyal fans in to your store so you can turn them into your loyal customers.

Atlanta Apparel’s Temporary Shoe Studio and Premiere collections and Permanent Fashion Accessories & Shoes and Women’s Apparel collections feature dozens of trend-making shoe collections, all available at the March Atlanta Apparel Market (Showrooms: March 19-23, Temporaries: March 19-22, Social Occasion: March 18-20). See a full list of shoe showrooms on

Special thanks to Brandon Brewer of Naughty Monkey and Not Rated and Matt Lombardi Fit Flop for their assistance with this post.


Must-Haves for Fall 2015

It may be time for Spring Fever, but we’re feeling the love for Fall at Atlanta Apparel. Be sure to stock up on these key pieces for your store.

The Turtleneck
Cut with a slim, high neck, wear as a classic staple layering piece. Or opt for a chunky, outsized neckline to wear as a standalone item.

Paul & Joe, Atlanta Apparel at AmericasMart

Paul & Joe

BCBG Max Azria,

BCBG Max Azria











Sachin + Babi

Sachin + Babi










The Wide-Leg Flare

Cut from fluid fabric to accentuate the flare. Look for added masculine details at the waist.

Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca Taylor












The Nipped-Waist Coat
Cut in a classic, tailored silhouette. Add darts or a tailored belt for a nipped-in, modern and feminine shape.

Trina Turk

Trina Turk











The Sweater Dress

Constructed in fine-gauge ribs for a slim silhouette. Graphic contrasts add interest to elongated proportions.

BCBG Max Azria sweater dress fall 2015

BCBG Max Azria

Sita Murt sweater dress fall/winter 2015

Sita Murt









See all these brands and much, much more at Atlanta Apparel, March 19-23, 2015.

Trend forecasting and images courtesy of WGSN


Earrings – Beyond the Stud

Earrings are making a statement this season. During January Market at Atlanta Apparel, we saw a stunning selection of bejeweled earring jackets, front-and-back peekaboo earrings, ear climbers and cuffs from several of our exhibitors. Take a look!

Earring jackets, earring cuffs. House of Harlow at Atlanta Apparel.

House of Harlow

SUCCARRA Showroom (Melanie Auld)

(Melanie Auld)

CC Skye jewelry at Atlanta Apparel

CC Skye

Judson & Company

Judson & Company