One of the most important sections of Label Networks presentation, “Global Youth , Street Culture Fashion Trends” taking place in the South Hall at MAGIC International Fashion Trade Show February 13 and 14 in Las Vegas, is the section within our presentation about what’s going on with the state of retail. Given the difficult economic climate, when it comes to retail and reaching global youth culture, many mass retailers have expanded outside of their usual territory, while smaller boutiques, in particular web boutiques have found strong niche consumer bases that are effectively reaching the marketplace, and in effect changing up the business of fashion.

Here are some key points that Label Networks is presenting at MAGIC about the state of retail to note:

General Retail Moving Conservative -Most top boutiques and big box retailers are more conservative in what they’re willing to buy this season for Fall 2008. As Dre Hayes from The Museum Group in New York City put it, “stores are going for brands rather than 1-off trends in design. So for fashion brands, it far more important now than ever to have a well -rounded brand, full collection, to attract buyers than a few key leading-edge designed pieces.”

Store = Starting Point to Lifestyle –This trend is especially the case for reaching youth culture markets where by stores such as Undefeated in Los Angeles, or Crooks & Castles or Alife may have massive lines created from the hype of LTD drops before the store opens coming from blogs, store websites, and online magazines, which keeps retail fresh and more like an event happening than actually shopping in a store

The Power of Pop-Up Increasing –Santa’s Ghetto art pop-up in the West Bank no less with artists such as Banksy, Swoon, and others is a brilliant example of how pop-up can be a movement -in this case not only to affordable art, but corresponding apparel. But because the store is ephemeral, gone in days, is makes for a different sort of shopping experience by being pro-active instead of reactive to normal traffic and shopping patterns.

Retail as Design/Event Space, Pop-up –A great example is New High (M)art in Chinatown, Los Angeles, where by a small store is re-designed by new designers and artists featured every 6 weeks.

Mass Retailers Moving into New Areas –Target now catching on to the power of action sports association and lifestyle by creating a collaboration collection with Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.

In the same vein however, surf, skate, snow retailer PacSun is losing by having action sports brands only rather than street. In effect they are also ending their close-toed shoe accounts such as Circa and DC, which all indications means a downward turn for the retailer. And yet interestingly, Zumiez continues to grow because it has such strong cred with action sports inspired enthusiasts but mostly because of the store loyalty by brands carried there and the Zumiez employees who all feel a sense of ownership and pride.

Web Boutiques -Online retail is increasing, particularly among street fashion fans and young people. What’s interesting about top web online stores such as KarmaLoop, Digital Gravel, Giant Peach, Yellow Rat Bastard and others is that they are also moving into being media companies profiling brands and designers, and thus connecting even more with today’s blog cache culture.

H&M, Second Life, Collaborations, Contests –Watching how this mass retailer continues to re-invent itself with moving into second life with contests for wannabe designers, collaborations with top designers (a.k.a. Masstige), and online contests on their site (whereby you can send your design for H&M to others through their site) makes the fast-fashion retailer a hit (other than their styles) among young people.

In terms of data from North America, we asked, “What stores do you like to shop in the most?” Among 13-25-year-olds some top results include:

Continued Increase in preferences for shopping at:

%u2022 Hot Topic

%u2022 American Apparel

%u2022 Zumiez

%u2022 Online Retailer

%u2022 Target

Types of Stores: Changes show that Vintage/Thrift continues to be important not only because it’s less expensive, but people can chose to identify with a variety of different eras -and youth culture is now retroing “retro” faster than ever before -not just each season, but on a monthly basis which is making fashion week’s and runways even more obsolete than ever before. If anything, top designers and fashion houses are now taking inspiration from youth, street culture than the other way around.

Our data show:

%u2022 Thrift/Vintage Surpasses Wal-Mart/Target in terms of shopping preferences

%u2022 Twice as high among females

Store Type Preferences:

  • UK -Peaks Vintage/Thrift, High Street
  • France -Designer Chains
  • Italy -Specialty Boutiques
  • Spain -Shopping Centres
  • Germany -Surf/Skate/Snow, Online

Label Networks entire presentation will be available for subscribers of the Premium Global Youth Culture Subscription 2008. For information email info@labelnetworks; (323) 630-4000.