FLIPPING THE SEITCH
Do you know an ollie from an alley-oop? A half-pipe from halftime? If you want to be on the mark with youth-minded fashion athletic apparel trends, you'd better learn.
Keeping up with the merging, converging trends in the fashion athletic apparel market means understanding the core athletic cultures the trends evolve from. When someone says sports, you may thing of a 300-pound sweaty linemen in a mesh jersey and Lycra/nylon pants, but to a 13-year-old today, an equally vivid image of sport is that of a skateboarder flying down a railing in baggy denim jeans and a polyester or cotton T-shirt.
Whether it be skateboarding, basketball, snowboarding or football, the convergence of traditional looks with new-school "street" style is as evident as ever in styles from not only urban and alternative athletic brands, but core athletic brands as well. Sportscast offers a glimpse of what some key manufacturers in this red hot market have in store for fall 2001.
With the constancy of the "retro" trend in youth culture, there's an interesting mix in the new apparel offerings with companies chasing current trends and harkening back to old ones at the same time.
A perfect example is at Nike, where the company's Jordan division is expanding its apparel collection to include not only basketball gear, but also street casual and specially urban wear, under the Two-3 collection, which will launch at retail in spring 2001.
"Two-3 is all about the 'retro' thing for us," says Cheryl McCants, Nike's spokesperson for the Jordan division. "we call it 'the return of the mack.' It's going back to the '70s and '80s and looking at the people and the movies and the music to see what was popular back then, and incorporate it in the styles."
Not surprisingly, the Jordan brand is interpreting the retro styles with an updated twist -- 21st century denim styling. In urban and alternative athletic fashion circles, denim of all varieties is hot. Jimmy Khezrie, owner of urban specialty retail chain Jimmy Jazz (new York) says denim that's waxed, distressed, different colors, shiny, all kinds of details ... is "flying out at retail."
Another "retro" relic that continues to pop up is velour, featured in new collections from Enyce, Fila and fashion-forward, urban athletic apparel upstart, G.O.A.T. GEAR.
It's yet to be seen whether activewear heavyweight Nike and Reebok, with their Jordan and 13 collections, respectively, can compete at the fashion level with hot urban brands such as Ecko, Enyce, Triple 5 Soul and Sean John. As far as competition between each other, however, the Jordan Two-3 and Reebok 13 collections, like the men they are inspired by (Michael Jordan and Allen lverson), tend to appeal to slightly different age groups.
Aside from denim, perhaps the hottest trend going in the youth-minded fashion athletic apparel market is the old-fashion branded T-shirt from brands such as Ecko, Hurley, Quiksilver and Volcom--companies which built business on T-shirt sales and have evolved into multi-million dollar companies with apparel ranging from action sportswear to casual jeans and button downs.
Not everyone can make that leap.
"Some people just don't get it sometimes," says Shane Scott, president of the number Lumber Company, whose baseball-specific apparel company is in the midst of trying to expand its collection from basic T-shirts and shorts to include edgier, trendy shirts in the alt/skate vein. "On the East Coast, there's such a crowded market and a savvy consumer to take into consideration, that it's hard to get into those stores. And out on the WstCoast, all the shops want the core surf and skate brands. Some buyers see this new stuff and say they just don't 'get' it."