U.K. retail company Arcadia Group — which runs Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Evans, Burton, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis — said it will launch a childrenswear line, Outfit Kids, according to a company press release on Monday.
The attractively priced brand, which will sell items from £7–£45 (about $9-$60), is aimed at boys and girls aged between 18 months and 12 years old and its autumn/winter collection will launch in early September, the company said.
Outfit launched in 1995 and now has 80 stores in the U.K. that feature several Arcadia Group brands.
Childrenswear is a tricky part of the struggling apparel market. Teen retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle have been forced to pivot to meet changing tastes and reluctant consumers. Lululemon recently said it would scale back its Ivivva brand aimed at younger shoppers (outfitted, more accurately, by their parents) and highly leveraged Gymboree (which also runs the higher-end Janie and Jack), filed for bankruptcy in June.
Target, by contrast, is finding success with its revamped children's apparel and home goods through the Cat & Jack and Pillowfort lines. In March, outgoing Target CFO John Mulligan told analysts that home decor and apparel account for some $26 billion in sales.
Arcadia Buying Director Mitch Hughes said the launch of Outfit Kids is based on "extensive customer research." "[F]amilies who shop across all the Arcadia brands … told us that for their kids they wanted fun, stylish pieces that were good quality and that price was key," he said in a statement. "We listened, and delivered."
Arcadia, led by Sir Philip Green, is beset by falling sales and continuing fallout from alleged financial scandal following the sale (and ultimate collapse) of 88-year-old U.K. department store British Home Stores. The company last week tapped Burberry Chief Merchandising Officer Paul Price to lead its Topshop/Topman brand. Topshop has raised its profile, including in the U.S., where the brand has 10 stores (not to mention the chain's second largest flagship in New York), as well as pop-ups in Nordstrom department stores. The retailer is often branded as a “fast-fashion” company because of its large assortment of trendy styles, though it doesn’t sport the leaner prices of retailers like H&M and Zara.
Regardless, the children's apparel venture is a move toward what is proving to be a difficult category of late.