The Children’s Place is the latest high-profile retailer to invest in the growing tween fashion market with a size-inclusive brand called Sugar & Jade that offers apparel, footwear and accessories.
Sugar & Jade is the latest addition to The Children’s Place stable, which includes the namesake Children’s Place, Place, Baby Place and Gymboree labels.
The Children’s Place president and CEO Jane Elfers said the company is angling for greater share in what she described as an $8 billion tween apparel market., branching out beyond the newborn-to-10-year-old niche it has traditionally served.
“Based on our leadership position in the big girls’ apparel and accessory space, we are uniquely positioned to retain our tween customer as she transitions from The Children’s Place brand to her next style stage,” Elfers said in a statement. “We have over 4 million customers to whom we are immediately marketing this exciting new brand, and we will deploy an ‘always on’ strategy that drives customer acquisition, while also migrating the current The Children’s Place customer to Sugar & Jade at the appropriate moment in their purchase journey.”
In the company’s third quarter earnings call, chief financial officer Rob Helm said the “kids zero-to-10 market is not a growing market.” While he made the statement in the context that the retailer needed its Amazon partnership to grow share in its current market, the Sugar & Jade launch suggests that The Children’s Place is looking for growth elsewhere for long-term success.
For now, Sugar & Jade will be an e-commerce only brand found exclusively on its own Salesforce-powered website. The site includes an inaugural product launch of apparel and accessory collections, in sizes ranging from 8 to 22. So far, four collections are listed on the site, including Zodiac, Lounge, Holiday and V-Day, although the company says a fifth collection is coming.
The Lounge collection including hoodies, leggings, duffel bags, pullovers, socks, pajamas and more, and offers themes such as tie-dye, camo and happy face. The Zodiac collection offers tees, hoodies and accessories tied to specific birth months.
The Children’s Place says the shopping experience leverages outfitting recommendations and user-behavior technology designed to engage and inspire shoppers based on their lifestyle. Sugar & Jade will include free shipping and returns with no minimum purchase requirement, and is launching a loyalty program.
Sugar & Jade’s “Be Ur True Self” marketing strategy will focus on empowering girls by spotlighting mentors’ stories and providing a platform for its tween shoppers, influencers and celebrities to share their own fashion stories. The brand said it will amplify these stories and voices through its social channels.
“We consistently receive positive customer feedback on our big girls’ assortment,” said Jennifer Groves, senior vice president of creative design. “Our customers let us know that The Children’s Place has been an important part of their kids’ wardrobe, and they wish they could stay with us longer—and now, with the launch of Sugar & Jade, they can. Pairing our deep understanding of our big girl customer with our extensive market research, we are confident that Sugar & Jade will deliver what our tween girl is looking for.”
The Children’s Place recently partnered with the Kardashians to promote a new collection of holiday family pajamas. The collaboration also is heavily promoting Afterpay, which the specialty apparel retailer implemented during the back-to-school season. Buy now, pay later providers like Afterpay could attract a younger millennial or Gen Z parent that may be more comfortable paying for purchases in smaller installments.
The changes come as The Children’s Place is shuttering 81 stores in fiscal 2021—the final batch of a combined 300 locations that started closing down in June last year.
Competition is heating up in the tween space. Pacsun launched the Pacsun Kids brand this summer, offering genderless apparel for ages 4-14. Justice, which was resurrected by brand management firm Bluestar Alliance out of bankruptcy last November, has its sights set on becoming a $500 million enterprise through e-commerce sales, in addition to a Walmart deal. And Francesca’s launched the tween Franki brand in February to scale out to a new demographic as it attempts to rebound from bankruptcy.
Walmart is getting further into the mix, expanding its Free Assembly private label into the children’s category, with sizes available from 5 to 18.