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'Not Just Another T-Shirt' : Teen Fashion Mavens Give Mixed Marks to BHHS Casual Wear

May 04, 1989|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

The Beverly Hills High School line of clothing, a collection of glitzy T-shirts, sweat suits and other items that will be sold to raise money for the city's financially strapped schools, made its debut this week before a tough group of fashion critics--the Beverly Hills High School student body.

The school officials and corporate and marketing executives who gathered to observe the students during the 10-minute show were concerned about one thing: how the students would react to the BHHS line, a look being sold worldwide as "not just another T-shirt, but something with attitude."

Student Critiques

Skipping and strutting across the stage to the thumping sound of rap music, professional models showed off the casual wear, in pastel colors with geometric designs, all sporting the BHHS logo. Old yearbook pictures of the school, members of the swim and football teams and cheerleaders were reproduced on some of the pieces, said Paulette Betts, who helped design the line for the manufacturer, Great Southern Co. of Macon, Ga.

For the most part, the students in the audience, dressed in their own assortment of odd styles--T-shirts, ripped and unripped jeans and tennis shoes--were enthusiastic about the show.

"I like the clothes, especially the jackets and the T-shirts," said Steven Kim, 15. "I think the whole thing is a good idea because the money is being used to help the schools. I think it will sell."

But some self-proclaimed connoisseurs of clothing offered their own critiques.

"I like some of the T-shirts but the rest was just OK, nothing special," said Seth Wilen, 17, a junior dressed in a denim jacket and jeans.

Another student, Robin Hickman, 18, said: "Fluorescent colors are out now. I'm into fashion, but I like the more sophisticated look. The clothes they showed were kind of childish and boring." Hickman was dressed in high heels, a tropical print dress and a turban wrapped around her dreadlocks. Large hoops dangled from her ears.

Nevertheless, based in part on the generally favorable reaction of the students, school board President Dana Tomarken and other officials proclaimed the show a success.

"I think they have really captured the kinds of clothes that would appeal to young people," Tomarken said. "I'm very pleased about it."

The licensing and marketing of the BHHS line is being handled by 20th Century Fox, which became interested in the project after being approached by a member of the Board of Education.

On Sale This Summer

The clothes are expected to hit the stores this summer as retailers begin pushing back-to-school sales for children ages 8 and up, said Barry Kirstein, the director of the line for Great Southern. "We expect to have special BHHS displays in major department stores across the country." The line recently made a four-city promotional tour in Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and New York. It will also be marketed in Great Britain and Japan.

"Beverly Hills really is an attitude, it means something to people," said Kirstein, who predicted that the Beverly Hills hook would be particularly successful in middle America.

To date, there are no firm estimates on how much the district will make from the venture. It was paid $30,000 this year under the licensing agreement, which gives the district 60% of the royalties on use of the trademark; Fox receives 40%.

Ori Zolberg, a 17-year-old junior, said he didn't think the line would be popular. "People think that Beverly Hills is an egotistical, stuck up place, and they won't buy it," he said.

'It's Different'

But Akua Campanella, a 17-year-old junior, said she would buy the clothing if she lived out of town. "If I lived in New York, I would buy it because it's different, like buying a college sweater," she said.

School board member Frank Fenton agreed. "I think by now everyone understands why we are doing this--to raise revenues," he said. "There is no mystique here. The question is, would people buy a line of clothes from Beverly Hills High School like they would buy one from universities like USC, Notre Dame, Harvard or UCLA. We think they will, and obviously 20th Century and Great Southern do as well, because they have put a lot of cash up."

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