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Bleachblack women talk action sports

By Gayle Jarrett
May 24, 2010 6:49 AM

Bleachblack is a daily blog of fashion, music and inspiration. Kristin Reiter, or the “Bleach” in the partnership, was formerly the design director at RVCA who was recently hired away by Nike to be the trend and energy director for women’s training.

Valerie Killeen is a senior apparel designer in the action sports industry.

The two have collaborated with Urban Outfitters on jewelry, released exclusive nail polish, been featured in Lucky, Teen Vogue, Foam, and have quite a following for their DIY’s (Do It Yourself projects).

They are 100% original on their blog and are now known as “trend-setters” by many in the fashion world.

These ladies have taken their unique voice and inspiration and created a dynamic forum. They have created their own brand in less than three years – sparked from a new idea and a fresh approach.

Here, we talk to them about Bleachblack and the junior's business in action sports.

First some background: While the action sports industry has made some strides in how it approaches the women’s business, the 2009 economy was challenging. As the competitive field enlarges with endemic and non-endemic brands, private label, and vertical fast fashion retailers, the product, the brand story, and specifically women’s marketing of the brand story become highly important pieces of a successful business.

What’s the background on why you two started Bleachblack?

“We found ourselves zeroing in on the same things for inspiration and comparing notes: music, designers, products, shopping, jewelry, sales, etc.,” Kristin and Valerie said. “Our styles compliment each other. The blog is an outlet for documenting what we love.”

You both work or have worked for action sports companies, so what do you think “action sports brands” mean to the typical junior’s customer?

Product is more important than ever as brands compete with the growing competition from vertical retailers and private label. The customer has many choices and brands aren’t always winning the dollar.

“Access via the web has created an educated, forward, well read customer. Junior’s is a thrash name” says Kristin. “It’s evolved into a contemporary world of fashion. Contemporary styling at affordable prices and easily accessible.”

She feels brands should be attentive to the availability of their product - “Exclusive is it!” Limit the amount and distribution, which then makes the brand special. Kristin cites footwear companies as doing a good job with this approach.

What is your view of brand loyalty in action sports for junior’s?

The marketing story is important so the customer can identify with the brand.

“Stay True!” said Kristin. “There are so many choices out there so brands must stay true to their image.”

Do you think the industry needs a revamp?

“Digital media allows you to update and refine (your style) on your phone,” said Kristin.

Young adults are telling their friends and following blogs. She suggests “a women’s version of Hype Beast.” Brands and shops should create their community by reaching young women through the web.

“Blogs break trends now, not magazines,” she said.

What do you think the future of the junior market is?

“The Junior’s and men’s businesses need to be approached differently. Designers need to be well versed and well researched, but there is also a need for someone at the top to support new ideas and different approaches,” Kristin said.

“In so many companies, guys are standing in the way!” she said. “Old school.”




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