DALLAS, Aug 19, 2008 / FW/ — With invitations and previews for the New York Spring 2009 season coming in fast and furious, it is easy to lose track on what’s going on with the other segments of fashion.

An interesting development is that mainstream retailers like Kohl’s, Sears, even K-Swiss are starting to ‘sell virtually’ to the young with the hope that it will translate to real world sales.

But, instead of using the very popular platform, Second Life, they have developed their own flavor or chose another. Kohl’s has, K-Swiss went to and Sears has its teen site,

During this tough economic times, everyone, from the biggest companies to the everyday consumer want the best value for their money. And it has been proven time and again that starting brand recognition while the would-be customers are still young is a very logical approach.

Consider also that the teens today are Millennials, the first generation who were born with all the technology with have today. They are not scared of technology; it is natural for them.

For Millennials, ‘virtually trying on a look is normal’, something that 20 years ago only existed in sci-fi films. Because they already have an idea of the look they want, it is logical to assume that look can be translated into reality.

Even in Second Life, where SL designers create clothes for avatars, the silhouette has turned more realistic. And business there is brisk, same with the ‘virtual stores’ of mainline retailers.

In its first 16 days, Kohl’s Stardoll boutique logged some 2.2 million visits and sold 1.8 million items. lured 97,000 visitors who clicked through from the boutique site.

In short, everything is turning out roses with virtual world marketing. But, it is still wise to be prudent. For lack of a better comparison, the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, even the Millennials were all raised with Barbie.

And yes, Barbie today is still one of Mattel’s best selling brands and one of its most important properties. But, we do not see any clothing line named ‘Barbie’ even today, except of course clothing for the dolls themselves.
In short, embrace technology but do not lose your heart into it. Good customer service and great products are still the byword in retail.


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