Pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler

Has anyone noticed that WWD is now reporting more on action sports fashion and dare we say, streetwear? It seems they sort of have to now, since more large chain retailers are turning to action sports-inspired brands to boost sales among young men -especially for back-to-school campaigns for 2009.

Clearly the success of Shaun White’s collection for Target has something to do with the fact that J.C. Penney’s has decided to bring on more brands from this realm for its back-to-school selections. It will now carry not only Vans (which it has for some time) but also Third Rail, Zoo York, Rusty, and RS by Ryan Sheckler, a new brand to debut this fall.

Ryan Sheckler, a pro skateboarder since he was 13 and an MTV star with his show “Life of Ryan,” actually skates for Plan B Clothing (but they don’t seem to mind), and Etnies shoes. On April 9th, it was announced that Ryan had signed on with Wicked Fashions, Inc. (home to Southpole, among others) to create a signature line called RS by Ryan Sheckler for back-to-school. The line includes T-shirts, hoodies, thermals, and skinny denim.

According to Wicked Fashions’ new prot%uFFFDg%uFFFDe Sheckler, “Skateboarding is my life and skating in something comfortable and stylish is a must. Ultimately, my goal is to take the clothes that my friends and I enjoy wearing and make them available to a larger audience at an affordable price.” Retail prices for the line will range from $15 – $55 for Young Men and $12 – $48 for Boys.

While the RS by Ryan Sheckler line is a good idea, we have to admit that J.C. Penney’s move (and even Macy’s getting into the action of action sports brands) is a little late in the game. Action sports just aren’t as hot as they used to be, not to mention that a lot of young people simply don’t differentiate sports that way any longer. While some will argue with this, pointing to the Shaun White/Target collab, no doubt, that’s a different league. Shaun White just got a Revolver Golden God Award for “Most Metal Athlete” on April 6th, sharing the stage with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Slipknot, Vinnie Paul, Korn, and Alice in Chains.

It should also be noted that J.C. Penney, a $18.5 billion company, was off 7.2% this quarter so they needed to do something to change-up their merchandising.

While the action sports specialty stores are all in arms about the betrayal of their brands to the big-box retailers, what everyone should be worried about, or at least interested in, is how the fast-fashion retailers from Europe and Japan are soaring. Uniqlo from Japan, which is slowly invading North America, just reported a first half net profit of 24%.