Tween Scene Stealers

Max & Bean

The tween niche can be a challenge to effectively target. There are a variety of factors that impact everything from product development to marketing. Basically, there are two demographics in one: older adult and blossoming child. Businesses need to be catering to adult, parental notions of style and utility, while developing an understanding of the evolving nature of the child. Designers have to be sensitive to the growing child’s changing moods as well as parents’ desire to preserve the essence of pure childhood –– no easy task.

In a 2012 interview in Adweek, Tween Brand Inc’s successful CEO Michael Rayden noted the importance of creating clothes that make a girl feel good about herself… that mom will buy. Companies like Dragonwing Girlgear, Purple Pixies, Max & Bean, and Matooka Kids Couture are forming a vanguard of tween fashions that acknowledges the edgy, while still promoting all that is good about children.

Dragonwing Girlgear: Supporting Active Girls

Dragonwing Girlgear
Tweens are involved in more sports than ever before, meaning that one child may need to go through several different kinds of uniforms in a single year. That means parents need to stock up on useful foundational pieces that are durable and go well with differing colors and styles. MaryAnne Gucciardi saw the need for a chic base layer that could go under uniforms and provide the fit and coverage needed. She started Dragonwing Girlgear with an eye to the future: empower girls and give them the right tools they need to succeed.

The company produces a line of sportswear, from tops and bras to compression shorts and leggings. Customer demand for the tagless Racer Sports Bra (available in White with Lime, Bright Pink with Light Pink, Chartreuse with Azure Blue, and Black with Teal) is high: the machine-washable support piece is constructed from fine gauge yarn for comfort.

The Un-Dee Light Compression Short is another customer favorite, and its 5.5” inseam meets current soccer style regulations (created from 80% Nylon/20% Lycra and available in over ten colors.) Dragonwing Girlgear also offers accessories, like the festive yet functional Braided Headband.

Empower the future now by giving girls what they need to succeed today:

Purple Pixies: Dancing to Tweens Tunes

Purple Pixies
“We started making clothing for tweens because there was a void in the market,” explains Rachel Ratzker, founder of Purple Pixies. “The dance market is huge and there is a need for cute, fashionable, age-appropriate dance wear that is made well. We saw the opportunity and jumped on it.” Ratzker knows a bit about melding style with comfort: her background is a blend of the entertainment industry and the clothing industry.

Fun, sporty pieces like the tie-dyed sweatshirts offer softness as well as supple coverage that moves with the busy tween, both dancers and other athletes alike. The Stirrup Leggings (in black, plum, and fuchsia) would look neat under a cute dress. Ultra-comfortable meets performance style in the Let’s Dance Sweat Pants, which could easily go from a workout to a day at the park (available in charcoal, purple, and teal).

Purple Pixies offers inspiring pieces, like the Kendell Vertes (of the Lifetime TV show “Dance Moms”) Designed T-Shirt. The soft pink and white tee offers the edgy but empowering slogan, “Don’t follow your Dreams… Chase them. xoxo, Kendall”. Other scene stealers include the “I Can’t… I Have Dance” T-shirt that lets girls tout their favorite activity. Purple Pixies also offers a collection of color-blocked print tops and shorts that can be mixed and matched.

Dancewear’s got the moves to be a top seller in tween fashion:

Max & Bean: Understanding a Blossoming Market

Max & Bean
Dawn Nguyen-Murnik brings an expert hand and a trained eye to the tween-favored designs at Max & Bean. Nguyen-Murnik was the senior director at Forever 21 Girls, articulating product design and brand strategy. She also spent time at Quicksilver and Juicy Couture enhancing the styles and fashion direction. Max & Bean is the natural outgrowth of her own market savvy and understanding of tween looks: “clothes for girls in transition for all seasons”.

Customers have consistently flocked to the Foundation Basics line: innerwear that caters to the needs of blossoming, active girls. Foundations Basics encompasses two sets of clothing that include fast-selling pieces like the mixed media tops and dresses.

Chiffon overlay jersey dresses are hot commodities. Scene stealers like the High-Low Tiered Dress feature a tiered torso with a high/low hem. Designs include subtle magenta patterns and navy dots, as well as bright zig-zags. A confection of chiffon and jersey, this dress is machine washable (available in sizes small to extra large, suiting girls 7-14 years old).

Tops feature eye-catching animal prints, bright solids, and subtle hues that add style to the already-comfortable designs. Max & Bean fashion is developed with an eye towards layering, so customers can feel good about stocking up on multiple pieces that can be worn together or with those from other designers.

On deck for 2014 is the enticing “Twilight and the Girl” collection, which involves “mixing preppy stripes with celestial prints.”

Matooka Kids Couture: Glamour is in the Details

“Matok”, or “sweet” in Hebrew, is the perfect descriptor for the panache stylings of Matooka Kids Couture. Developed by moms Yona Philips and Daniella Kuhl, the company targets tweens with a sophisticated style –– plus it still manages to be “comfortable and itch-free”. The motivation for the collections can be drawn from the founders’ lives: they were both busy lawyers with several girls… and neighbors. Both women recognized the need for tween wear that was sweet but still came across as stylish.

Matooka Kids Couture is all about well-fitting, comfortable, and savvy statement clothes, from the delicate flowers that gently cascade down a sleeve to the perfectly-shaped heart buttons on its chic Trench Coat. Matooka Kids wowed with its 2013 fall line-up of frocks: The Lace Flounce Dress in black boasts a decorative flower, while the Lace Collar Dress (available in navy, grey, and rust) entices with a Peter Pan collar on a solid long-sleeved top with a white skirt below.

Spring 2014 includes a coral tunic dress with sleeves decorated with loads of delicate white flowers and a bright blue short-sleeve frock with a cheerful red flower.

Tweens are at the nexus of childhood sweetness and teen sophistication:

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