Detroit’s Oppos Takes Girls’ Apparel Business Nationwide


Tom Ervin, co-owner of Detroit-based Oppos, expects to see his company’s mix-and-match leggings for girls cropping up throughout the United States, with a retail presence in nearly 25 malls and shopping centers by next fall.

“We’ve gone through the preliminary phases of finding the right fabrics, the right fit, the right patterns, and I think this is really going to take off,” says Ervin, who founded Oppos with co-owner and designer Shelly Chilton.

Rather than sell a single pair of leggings at a time, the brand splits the stretchy pants into two separate legs that connect with a zipper. The patented product allows girls, size 5 to 14, to choose among nine solid color right legs and nine left legs featuring prints with 54 possible combinations, and zebra or splatter-paint designs.

Since launching last year, the brand has sold more than 1,000 individual leggings via its website and a kiosk that opened this summer at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi. Plans call for another kiosk to open at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills in January, but Ervin isn’t limiting their reach to Michigan alone.

“One of the interesting things I didn’t realize when I first embarked on this strategy was that all of these malls have a specialty leasing agent, whose job is to lease as many kiosks as they can,” Ervin says, noting he plans to sell product distributorships for kiosks in individual malls. “I found that I don’t need to go into a city to find a kiosk operator that might be interested in selling Oppos — all I need to do is contact the specialty leasing manager for a given mall or chain of malls, and they spread the word around themselves.”

The first kiosk to launch through the program will be at a shopping center in Salinas, Calif. Next month, Ervin says. The brand also received national exposure after being included in the swag bags for nominees and presenters at both the 2014 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards.

Looking forward, the company plans to expand its demographic reach by releasing a junior apparel line in spring 2015. Using the same concept as the original Oppos line, Spiritwear will allow students to build combinations featuring the colors of their schools and favorite sports teams (i.e. navy blue on the right, orange on the left).

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