“Tween” Clothing Marketers Target Young Girls Online

Like many girls her age, seven-year-old Bella Haiz is interested in fashion.

“Me and my dad go shopping a lot,” she said.

At seven, this Alexandria, Virginia girl is now a “tween,” a term that describes the precious years between early childhood and adolescence.

And it is a time marketers find particularly alluring. Bella can go online at the website Fashionology.com and design her own clothes.

Bella picks the style of shirt she wants. Later, she will choose a color.

For Bella it can be like a game. Mom is the cautious one.

Experts say this is a relatively new way for marketers to entice girls in the tween age group, seven to 14 years old.

Jayne O’Donnell is a retail expert and author of a forthcoming book on tween shopping habits.

“They are more often at their computer than they are at the mall. So it’s very enticing to have that available to them,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell says the lines between commerce and play have been blurred by tween merchandisers, especially with new online stores.

“It reinforces this buy, buy, buy mentality,” she said.

Fashionology.com was launched after the success of the company’s Los Angeles tween boutique.

The owner says girls have responded from all over the world.

“From Bangkok to Sydney, Australia to just down to Texas, and they all just wanted to experience Fashionology and what better way than online,” Elizabeth Wiatt said in a company video.

In Bella’s house, Annette Larkin, her mother, thinks supervision is important.

“I don’t give her the credit card and let her go,” Larkin said.

She says shopping online promotes consumerism at a young age.

“I don’t want buying things to be a hobby for my daughter,” she said.

Larkin prefers shopping in a store with Bella, so the two can share the time and the experience.