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Editor's note: Updated Thursday 10/01/09 with video from the event, courtesy of O'Neill Clothing.
O'Neill hosted a design competition Friday night in Laguna Beach, its second "Generation Next" event in association with Teen Vogue. I followed up with O'Neill Juniors VP Kari Johnson to find out more about the competition, what O'Neill learns from it and what is working for O'Neill Juniors for fall and spring.
The winner, Angela Urmanita of Rowland Heights, won $4,000.
Why does O'Neill put on this competition?
It's our way of giving back to our audience. It gives these young girls a taste of what it's like working for a clothing company, and hopefully encourages them to pursue a career in fashion. It's also a great way for us to stay connected with our consumer -- we learn just as much from these girls as they do from us.
Do the teens bring any new ideas to the table?
Yes! Last year, it was all about the bare back. This year, they love the one shoulder. We're constantly picking their brains about what's in and what's out. We got all of them to give us their "Top 10" back-to-school shopping list. It was very insightful!
Have you ever spotted a future O'Neill designer among the teens?
Definitely. They all bring something unique and different to the table. Their energy and youthful perspective is refreshing and inspiring to us.
Turning to the O'Neill Spring 2010 line, are there any "home runs" so far with retailers?
Tube dresses and knits, as well as our fashion sandals, are doing very well. Our "first in" program (which offers our retailers a 60% margin) continues to be successful as well.
The juniors market has been tough for the industry. Are you seeing any signs of hope out there?
Absolutely. The girl is still shopping but she is more price sensitive and wants something new and fresh. We are addressing that going forward.
Woven tops have been good at retail, and our prints have always been our trademark and continue to be strong. We look forward to jackets and fleece taking off as we move into fall and holiday. Footwear has also been a shining star for us.
Here's a video from the event, courtesy of O'Neill Clothing.