DIVA DREAMS STORE CATERS TO PRETEEN GIRLS WHO WANT TO DRESS LIKE OLDER SISTER.
Talk about a tiny mini-skirt.
As girls as young as four imitate grown-up fashions, fishnet tops and leopard-print capelets are coming in the teeniest of sizes these days.
Just walk into the bright pink explosion that is Pop Star Girls in Canoga Park, where 7-year-old Shaine Irvine stands among racks of fur handbags and Chanel-style suits.
``I'm into skirts and tank tops,'' said Shaine, who is wearing glitter lip gloss and cites Hilary Duff as a fashion inspiration.
Her twin sister, Shannon, is wearing a dark purple velour jumpsuit and checking out the Ugg-style boots.
Pop Star Girls is like any trendy Los Angeles boutique, except the shoppers are between the ages of four and 14 - ``miniature divas,'' as manager Victoria Fraser describes them. Once Fraser even watched in awe as a four-year-old waltzed into the store wearing two-inch-heel boots and a faux fur coat.
Pop Star Girls, which opened in September, embodies the maturing market for tween girls who are increasingly imitating the trendy fashions of their older sisters. Though Limited Too is the widely recognized leader in the tween girl market, retailers like Gap and Guess are spinning funkier designs for kids too.
Valley Village resident Sharon Blount even markets a perfume for tweens called ``innocence.'' She created it to let pre-teens feel trendy without being too grown up, she said.
``This is a growing demographic for the future,'' said Bob Atkinson, spokesman for Limited Too, the tween chain with 575 locations nationwide and 56 stores in California.
``My take on it is that there's so much out there for babies and teenagers, a lot of the in-between is missed,'' Blount said.
Pop Star Girls sells everything that might be found in a store for teenage club-hoppers, however; sequined belts, feathery scarves, tinted rock-star sunglasses and fur handbags. Fraser refers to the Chanel-style suits as ``our little Jackie O suits.''
``They're more mature now - they wear leopard print and baby doll shirts. They want to be like their mommies and aunties,'' she said.
It's all in good fun, said Paul Han, owner of Pop Star, who's been manufacturing and distributing tween clothes to national chains for 14 years. Despite the occasional parental complaint, Han said, most recognize the clothes for what they are - fun, throwaway trends.
The skirts at Pop Star Girls may be a little short, but Fraser said that's because they're meant to be paired with leggings or leg warmers. It's a far cry from the torn fishnet shirts she sees some girls wearing.
``That just doesn't look right on a little girl,'' Fraser said.
Toni Irvine said she was thrilled to find a store that solely caters to girls her daughters' age. But even Irvine, who bought her daughter Shannon the Ugg-style boots, has her limits.
``Like this,'' she said pointing to a metallic pink handbag that looks like it could be found in Bebe or Guess. ``No way. That's way too grown up.''
For her own 12-year-old daughter, Blount likes to buy clothes that are fun. But she draws the line at sweat pants that have cute words or phrases emblazoned on the rear. That's the kind of inappropriate clothing that prompted her to create Innocence. The clean-scented perfume lets girls feel trendy without being too grown-up, she said.
Therein lies the key to unlocking the tween market, Atkinson said. Since parents ultimately hold the checkbook for this demographic, he said it's important to ensure the fashions will not only get girls excited, but pass muster with mom too.
``That's one thing about the tween girl. Unlike the teenage sister who's probably out there making her own shopping decisions, the mom is always going to be there to make the final decision. We know that.''
Ultimately, Atkinson said, it boils down to creating a sense of fun in the store.
``(The tween) life is principally about fun,'' Atkinson said. ``Yes she goes to school and has to take that seriously, and maybe plays a musical instrument. But her life revolves largely around having fun and sharing that with her friends. It's a time when they're beginning to separate from their parents.''
Candice Choi, (818) 713-3634
INFO TO GO
Pop Star Girls:
Westfield Shoppingtown Topanga
6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
110 E. 9th St., Suite A-640
4 photos, box
(1 -- color) Sharon Blount, creator of innocence perfume, left, shows a hat and a shirt of hers modeled by her daughter, Brielle.
Evan Yee/Staff Photographer
(2 -- 3 -- color) The Pop Star Girls store in the Westfield Shoppingtown Topanga, above, shows just the kinds of clothing younger girls like to see. At left, Shelly Freed holds up a poncho while shopping at Pop Star. Freed is shopping for her daughter, who lives with her in Simi Valley.
(4) Kelley Churukian, 10, left, and Tara Donikian, 9, hug each while shopping at the Westfield Shoppingtown store Tuesday.
Tina Burch/Staff Photographer
INFO TO GO (see text)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 5, 2005|
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