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Do you have the next big idea?

I get a kick out of recycled fashion, but I also really love and admire innovation. Something revolutionary, disruptive, creative, a void-filler just when we thought there were no more voids to fill. This issue, we have a number of stories that revolve around a unique approach or product.

We all know that fashion is cyclical and every two decades or so, trends gets reinvented and rolled out to a new generation. Neon colors? The fanny pack? Rhinestone belts? Yup, we’ve seen 80s, 90s and Y2K fashion come back. With the need to label looks and put them into a marketing box, we’ve had moments for Coastal Grandma and Barbiecore, among many others. I had no idea that some of my old clothing was Y2K fashion until my 15-year-old daughter educated me and promptly declared ownership of my low-rise jeans and Juicy Couture hoodies. I’m also happy that we’re reducing our carbon footprint, in some small way.

I get a kick out of recycled fashion, but I also really love and admire innovation. Something revolutionary, disruptive, creative, a void-filler just when we thought there were no more voids to fill. This issue, we have a number of stories that revolve around a unique approach or product. Our retail profile on The Urban Toddler out of Ann Arbor, MI., takes us on a journey with Rosa Lee, an architect with zero retail experience who built a destination store that’s been in business for 18 years. Our designer chat with Lauren Levy of Magnetic Me describes how the company has revolutionized the snug fit and chemical-free fabric needed for government sleepwear regulations—following their disruption to dressing babies, toddlers and children with mobility issues or handicaps; with nursing wear added to their offerings, Magnetic Me is making a design difference in multiple categories.

Our spectacular fashion is also the epitome of innovative—a goal for which we always strive. “Generation Next” showcases some of the most bold, beautiful and special looks of Fall 2024, styled and photographed in a sophisticated yet kid-friendly way. We’ve covered many bases in this story: outerwear, textures, funky construction, fun color and cool prints, plaids and stripes—all mixed and matched in unexpected ways. Many of our models fit into size 7 to 14, and that range, the tween, is a category that perhaps you’ve taken for granted. You see, tween wasn’t always a thing. For this little history lesson, we need to go back to 1999 when I met Ilene Oren.

In 1999, I was the Editor in Chief of Earnshaw’s (under the original ownership), looking to create new and engaging editorial. I decided to run a series of roundtable discussions with top manufacturing executives and experienced sales reps, and each month I would focus on a different segment. One month I chose tween, which was a burgeoning category and one of the participants was Oren. She was instrumental in helping to develop the tween category and repped Tractr jeans. What was different about tween is that the clothing wasn’t being designed up from little girl, it was being designed down from juniors. I distinctly remember seeing  the Tractr brand in the slew of independent stores I used to regularly visit and the new section of “7 to 14 Girls” that began appearing in every major department store.

In 2021 when I rejoined Earnshaw’s, Oren and I reconnected and we talked about that tween roundtable. So when I was planning my editorial for this issue’s tween coverage, the person who immediately came to mind was Oren. I am especially pleased to present a deep dive into this industry veteran’s 30-plus-year career, her many words of wisdom and advice and the incredible passion, professionalism and positive energy she puts into her work. I hope you enjoy reading the Q&A, “Tween Queen,” as much as I did collaborating with my subject and creating the story.   

We look forward to seeing many of you in person at New York’s I Love Playtime/Kid’s Hub in February. We can’t wait to discover what next big—or little—creative ideas are coming.

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