Tom Johnson

Tension is rising in the apparel industry, as retailers push garment makers for faster turnaround on smaller orders ahead of the key Christmas holiday season. The old model — where retailers placed orders six months to nine months in advance and suppliers ramped up factories to produce high volumes cheaply — has been thrown out the window after a recession that left stores swamped with unsold clothes and idled factories.

When hip is hot, it helps the hipster, which in this case is the budget-friendly clothing-store chain Aéropostale. Its stores, once indistinguishable from the likes of others in the mall, have become a must-stop for fashion-conscious teens and preteens.

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