A Better Price Size For Kids

Ben Wallace of the NBA's Chicago Bulls will launch the Big Ben Collection clothing line next month.
Ben Wallace of the NBA's Chicago Bulls will launch the Big Ben Collection clothing line next month. (Steve & Barry's)
By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, September 23, 2007

My sister warned me.

Just wait, she said. You'll be fighting with Olivia about clothes and things she wants to buy.

Not my child, I protested. Remember, she lives with a mother who can squeeze a penny so hard that Lincoln winces. My child couldn't possibly have such tendencies.

But my sister was right. My oldest daughter, who is now 12, is often irritated that I've made the mall a mostly forbidden zone. She's allowed to venture there only a few times a year when absolutely necessary -- like when her toes are crushed inside her shoes or her jeans could be mistaken for capri pants because they are so short.

When we pass by a mall, Olivia begs to go in. I refuse, and then she gives me the look.

My daughter handles her money well. She's frugal -- like her mother. But the pressure is building on her as peers get showered with the latest brand-name clothes and electronic toys.

I did relent on one thing: I let her buy trendy lip gloss. I couldn't see why the lower-cost ChapStick wouldn't do, but you do have to let some things go.

Our biggest battle is over the question of a cellphone. I say absolutely not. She rolls her eyes and glowers at me with that preteen glance that silently says "nursing home."

But there is one bright spot for parents determined to buy inexpensive clothing for their children. More celebrities and athletes are coming out with affordable products for families who don't want to go broke buying brand-name items.

Kevin Durant, the No. 2 overall draft pick this year for the Seattle SuperSonics, is working with Nike to develop a reasonably priced sneaker. Although the shoe may not debut for at least a year, the strategy is worth noting.

"The whole concept behind Kevin's desire to see more affordable shoes in the marketplace stems from his belief that kids should be able to make a purchase for quality shoes without their families having to make huge financial sacrifices," said Mary C. Ford, public relations director for Goodwin Sports Management, which represents Durant. "Kevin is a product of two parents that worked hard everyday to provide for him and his brother and knows that a lot of inner-city kids are not as fortunate."

Durant is following other NBA players who are doing the same thing. Stephon Marbury of the New York Knicks teamed last year with New York retailer Steve & Barry's to create a basketball sneaker for $14.98. Ben Wallace of the Chicago Bulls will launch a basketball shoe and clothing line on Oct. 29. The line is called the Big Ben Collection. All are affordably priced and also sold at Steve & Barry's.

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