The Boy’s Apparel Conundrum: More Pizzazz Please!

It’s market season once again and at Torly Kid we are beginning to write our orders for Fall/Winter 2015.  As most of you know, retailers of children’s apparel write orders 6-9 months in advance. It should be noted that designers must complete their designs at least 4-6 months earlier than that. This means that product you see on the shelves is dreamt up and produced more than a year before it appears in stores.  As I sit in showrooms and look through rack after rack of samples for next winter, I am once again reminded of the challenges of buying for boys.  As a retailer in the children's clothing biz for 10 years, I have heard moms say they would love to see something with "a little more pizzazz" in the boys market, a little more creativity.  Everything is navy and grey.  It’s all so boring. 

One of the most challenging jobs as a retailer is the delicate balance of managing differences in timing between the initial concept for a product and getting the item on the floor to gauge customer reactions. These two concepts act as gyroscope. The bigger, slower wheel is the production of a product while the smaller, faster wheel is the everyday commentary we as retailers hear from the customers.

Photo Credit: Mayoral USA & Torly KidIn response, I and many other retailers take a few risks and purchase some fashion forward styles for boys.  Every boys clothing vendor designs a handful of these products.  Maybe something with a little color, a little print, a little extra slouch, or a wax coating here and there.  Something with a little extra creativity.  Over and over again, I sprinkle these styles into my purchases.  Over and over again they get put on our models, placed in our front windows.  Displayed with pride.  Alas, over and over again they get passed over by the customer. 

Maybe it will look too feminine.  Maybe Dad won’t like it.  Maybe it won’t be comfortable.  Maybe the kids will make fun of him for trying to be different.  All legitimate concerns – fashion after all, comes at a price.  Over and over again, the product goes unsold and ends up in the sales rack. This comes at no loss to the customer but to the retailer who is running a business and trying to choose the items that will sell. 

So next season, its back to basics we go, a little bit of navy, a little bit of grey a couple of cute graphics and (Yawn…) a few pairs of blue jeans…. Until… moms once again ask for styles with a bit of pizzazz…This after all, is what makes our job fun.  We keep trying to find that formula that will work.  And the best part?  We get a new shot at it every 6 months!

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