American Eagle Hatching Kids Brand

American Eagle Outfitters is thinking young. The Warrendale, PA-based apparel marketer plans to launch a new online children’s brand later this year at: www.77kids.com. Targeting the parents of children age two to 10, the site will sell trendy, high-quality clothing and accessories.

The brand’s name refers to 1977, the year American Eagle was founded. This marks the first time the company has launched a brand exclusively online. Plans call for brick-and-mortar stores to start opening in 2009.

CEO Jim O’Donnell said in a release: “77kids is a natural fit for American Eagle. We’re leveraging the AEO expertise and best practices to create something new, incremental and exciting for customers.” Company spokesperson Sarah Toulouse declined to comment further or provide a specific launch date for the site.

The company’s second stand-alone lifestyle concept, Martin+Osa, debuted in the fall of 2006 and targets men and women age 25 to 40. In February 2006, the company started Aerie as an intimate apparel sub-brand offering bras, panties, and dorm wear targeting American Eagle’s core 15- to 25-year-old demographic segment.

Lee Helman, managing director with New York-based investment bank Financo, thinks the new brand launch is a bit risky at this time. “American Eagle Outfitters launching kids is done to continue growth, although it is in a crowded space of the market,” he says. “Interesting that the launch is being done online first, principally to the parents of the 2-10 crowd. Online advertising will be interesting to follow and learn about.”

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