Many skateboard companies have created women’s clothing lines over the years, but the launch of DC’s latest girls’ clothing line venture turned heads at ASR San Diego this past September.
DC Co-Owner Damon Way is in charge of the line. “I think I had the most interest in it, and I spearheaded getting it,” says Way. “From concept to completion, the project took seven months. It was short-ready, set, go.
“I’d been talking about doing it for four years in a very uncommitted way. Especially with seeing the success of the other brands offering women’s apparel lines, such as Volcom, Hurley, and Quiksilver,” adds Way. “I think our line is a very well-thought-out package. Footwear is not an accessory to the apparel, and vice versa. It has a very different look.”
The head designer of the apparel line is Stacy Dye, formerly a creative director at San Diego-based Copia clothing, who joined DC in January of this year to take on the title of girls’ creative director-the project manager for the overall women’s division featuring shoes, apparel, and accessories.
“We did two months of market research, looking at buying trends and selling trends. We did super-extensive research on our customer before we started designing for her,” she says.
Asked what the average target age of their customer for the line is, Dye responds, “I think she’s pretty broad-because we have a broad retail demographic, ranging from thirteen to 25 years old.”
The line isn’t limited to ‘core skate shops. Way explains, “It’s a juniors’ line, so it would make more sense for us to go after a juniors’ market. The ‘core skate-shop market is more of a men’s market.
“Skate shops are part of our target market, but not our only market. There are also broader distribution channels such as PacSun and other outlets,” says Way. “Our focus demographic is twelve to eighteen years old. It’s kind of the same for men’s and women’s, and it goes up and down (in age) from there.”
There are five divisions of the line that cater to a customer Dye describes as super-diverse and urban-athletic. “So when we designed the line, we thought we’d pull from all that,” she says.
It’s important to note that every division features very custom details such as special stitching, buttons, and fabrics. There is a “denim” division, and also a “military” group featuring cargoes and a custom-splatter camo print. The other divisions are an “active” group, featuring vintage athletic tracksuits designed with styles and fabrics similar to what adidas uses in tracksuits. There’s also a “basics” group, featuring the essentials for most women’s wardrobes, and a “fleece” division, which Dye describes as “the girliest group in the whole selection.”
Asked what the initial response from people at DC was to the idea, Way says there wasn’t much room for one, really. “There wasn’t a whole lot of information going around about it. People didn’t know what was going on until ASR, and they were pleasantly surprised,” he says.
Dye is proud of the end result. “We were determined to finish the line to our level of satisfaction,” she says. “I think when buyers came to the booth they were like, ‘You weren’t kidding.’
“That’s just the way DC does it-if you’re gonna do it, do it right the first time,” adds Dye.
Way explains, “There’s a stigma in the industry that says footwear brands don’t do apparel properly. I think retailers in general have been wary of footwear companies who offer apparel brands. That issue is very real. We’re primarily going up against surf brands. That’s our main competitor. It’s not other skate-shoe companies.”
Dye says she’s having a good time presenting the brand to the international market. DC is popular internationally, particularly throughout the notoriously fashion-driven European market. “It’s fun because in the international market, we can push more fashion and style. Obviously, the international market is more interesteed in fashion.”
Both Dye and Way feel that the juniors’ market in Japan is growing simultaneously with the U.S.
In addition to a full line of women’s apparel and shoes, DC is also offering accessories for women, including belts, handbags, hats, pajamas, socks, and wallets. “I don’t think the collection as a whole will be stronger in one area than another,” says Way. “But I’m sure parts of it will be more popular in one area than in another.”
“I think we’re farther along in the women’s area than we are with footwear,” adds Way. “That’s what we’re finding out-the apparel is setting the precedent for the footwear.”
“It’s a progressive gain,” Dye says. “We’ve had a good response to the pieces we have released. In the future it’ll set a greater precedent.”
The first line is for Spring 2004 and will be in stores in December 2003. The majority of the line will ship starting in January.