Victoria's Secret Pink, the lingerie brand’s young "collegiate" line, has become a sales juggernaut, a trend that may be troubling to some parents.
It's far from the only U.S. retailer generating big business among middle-and high-school girls who are buying more bras, underwear and intimates.
Hot Topic Inc. is testing an edgy lingerie line called Blackheart, and Urban Outfitters Inc., which has said intimates could eventually make up 10 percent of sales.
Even Justice, the store for 7- to 12-year-olds owned by Tween Brands Inc., has started selling tie-dye bras and flowered panties online these days.
Retailers are taking care to present the garments as cute versus sexy, said Marcie Merriman, founder of retail and brand strategy consultancy PrimalGrowth.
Stores are “all going to say they’re targeting 18- to 22- year-olds, but the reality is you’re going to get the younger customer,” she said of teen sales.
Basically, clothing stores eager to boost sales see a goldmine in women’s intimates. The category now generates more than $11.1 billion in annual sales.
Dan Stanek, V.P. at brand consultancy Big Red Rooster, says:
“Sensuality and body image continues to be a message that young girls are seeing and are being exposed to more than even 10, 12 years ago.”
"They’re aiming to imitate the lingerie styles worn by role models and celebrities seen on the Web and social media, which is a less controlled environment."
Victoria’s Secret was among the first to tap the market with Pink in 2004. The sub-brand is geared toward college girls, but became a hit with even younger customers.
At the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in November, the company hired teen heartthrob Justin Bieber to perform during a segment showcasing Pink merchandise.
“When somebody’s 15- or 16-years-old, what do they want to be?” said Stuart Burgdoerfer, chief financial officer of the Columbus, Ohio-based company.
“They want to be older, and they want to look and be cool like the girl in college, and that’s really part of the magic of what we do at Pink.”