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February 14, 2013

Teen lingerie luring ever-younger girls

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

A major part of that is the fashion trend of wearing bright, lacy bandeau tops, bras that allow multiple strap positions and longer items called bralettes that can be glimpsed under tank tops, crop tops and other shirts. The bra as a fashion item has grown popular at outdoor music festivals, with Aerie even promoting a "Concert Bra" — which can be worn on its own or under a blouse or jacket — in conjunction with the Coachella festival last year, she said.

Lingerie makers have to be careful adjusting their messaging for a younger audience so it's more about the girl and less about dressing in a way that's appealing for men, Merriman of PrimalGrowth said.

"We really use the word 'pretty' more than 'sexy' — that's really not the Aerie girl," Foyle said. "We see this white space out there for the kind of trends we want to address. We see Gen Y as a very confident young lady who doesn't need to be the showy supermodel, she's just confident in herself."

For Hot Topic's new Blackheart lingerie line, Chief Executive Officer Lisa Harper described a customer searching for a different look than that worn by Victoria's Secret's iconic supermodels.

"We feel like the darker, edgier, sexier rock star mentality works well with our core brand," she said in a telephone interview. Blackheart, which recently featured a $20 skull-print balconette bra and $65 cheetah-print lace corset among top picks on its website, hopes to draw in graduates of the Hot Topic stores in their late teens and 20s, she said.

The dark, neon-lit stores contrast with the bubblegum appeal of Victoria's Secret's Pink stores and Harper said the models intentionally look older than those at Aerie as Blackheart is not looking for a young teenage customer.

"Victoria's Secret has taught the consumer that they should have this fantastic experience while they're shopping for their lingerie and intimate apparel, and the department stores aren't as able to give that specialized perspective or experience to the customer," Harper said. "Other specialty players are looking at providing that equivalent or a better experience."

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