Friday, August 24, 2007

Shady, Outkast, Snoop See Apparel Sales Decline

Despite a strong sales increase in past years, the urban apparel sector is experiencing a drop in sales; forcing major department stores to stop carrying previously profitable brands.

Federated Department Stores Inc., which runs the Macy's and Bloomingdale's chains, is concerned after being hit with a double-digit decline instead of the double-digit boost experienced in recent years. In the last year, the demand for baggy jeans and throwback jerseys has fallen in favor of classic styles.

The Fubu brand, which sky-rocketed to the top of urban clothing with LL Cool J's endorsement has failed to keep up with the new trends. The company's sales have reportedly shrunk three quarters since 2001. After promising beginnings, other lines such as Outkast Clothing, Eminem's Shady Limited and the Snoop Dogg Collection have also plummeted in sales.

According to Marshall Cohen, of NPD Group's market research firm, total sales of urban lines, including footwear and accessories, are expected to sit at $2 billion. Urban lines registered an 18% growth in 2003.

In the last decade, urban fashion lines helmed by Hiphop icons such as P. Diddy, Jay-Z and Russell Simmons blew past more traditional men's lines such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica. Since then, successful Rap artists have made it a trend to launch their own clothing lines. Meanwhile, women's apparel followed suit with Kimora Lee Simmons' Baby Phat and Eve's Fetish leading the way.

While brands like Akademiks, Enyce and Azzure have been dropped by department stores, others like Sean John, Ecko and Rocawear's Ryan Kenny, which features Italian cotton button-up shirts and cashmere blazers, continue to thrive. In hope to slow down the chute, department stores have been stocking up on smaller brands like Ben Sherman, Buffalo and Mavi. Meanwhile, upon getting dropped, several apparel companies including Phat Fashions are now introducing lines with polo shirts, blazers, and cotton sweaters. Federated and Bloomingdale's wouldn't comment for this story.