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The Life After T-Shirt Experience

Ahhh, that time of life when you’ve got to begin paying (really) for your clothes yourself, and when those four years of college food impact whether you’ll really ever wear low-rise jeans again!

Ahhh, that time of life when you’ve got to begin paying (really) for your clothes yourself, and when those four years of college food impact whether you’ll really ever wear low-rise jeans again!

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As this NY Times Articlestates, however, this is rapidly becoming a pretty crowded space: In the past year, Abercrombie & Fitch, all but synonymous with high school and college, has created Ruehl No. 925, for the postcollegiate crowd. The king of preppy, J. Crew, has started Madewell, for twenty- and thirtysomething women. The dominate casual clothing chain, Gap, has begun Forth & Towne, for women 35 and older. And young-adult retailer Pacific Sunwear has created One Thousand Steps for shoppers over 20.

Courting Young Money

This is the growth segment – the one to go after for retailers. The number of Americans ages 25 to 34 is expected to rise by 5.2 percent by 2010, according to the Census Bureau. By contrast, those ages 12 to 18 are to fall by 3.3 percent. Having had their buying experience teeth cut on Ambercrombie & Fitch, they certainly aren’t made of the same cloth (pun intended) of the shoppers of my youth where we loaded up at J.C. Penney’s – just glad mom sprung for something. Now adding to the choces for this experience-groomed customer, new chains like Martin & Osa have come on the scene to woo this group on to their next level of shopping.

The question is, is this heightened experience frenzy sustainable?

Read up on each of these brands and they each tout a unique and wonderful ;experience.’ So, with each coming up with their niche for the same group of customers – what exactly will earn these increasingly discerning, coddled and cared for consumers loyalty? Or will they round-robin shop all of them equally? With the bar heightened as it is for this niche so used to being served attitude and artitude specifically catering to them – how high will it continue to go as they age? Is this perhaps the market niche that will pull the rest of the lagging and uninspired shopping arena up by its bootstraps?

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