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Casual fashion continues to draw US teen spend

Athletic brands such as Canadian yogawear retailer Lululemon and sportswear giant Nike continue to prove popular with teens in the US, as casualisation of fashion continues despite teen spending falling to the lowest levels in eight years.

Overall teen "self-reported" spending is down 4% year-on-year and 10% sequentially to US$2,400 – the lowest level since autumn of 2011, according to Piper Jaffray's 38th semi-annual 'Taking Stock With Teens' research survey. The results highlight spending trends and brand preferences amongs t9,500 teens across 42 US states.

Piper Jaffray says Generation Z consumers – those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s – contribute about US$830bn to US retail sales annually. The demographic is the first digitally native group to grow up not knowing a world before cellular phones, smartphones, and other digital devices.

While food continues to be male teens' number one spending category (23%), clothing takes the majority of female teens' wallet share (27%) as casual fashion continues – with preppy brands such as Sperry, Ralph Lauren and Vineyard Vines continuing to cede share to athletic brands. In fact, 36% of preferred apparel brands are "athletic", up from 34% last autumn.

Canadian yogawear retailer Lululemon, in particular, proved popular, hitting its highest level in survey history, taking seventh place as teens' preferred athletic apparel brand, up from 11th place last year.

Nike, meanwhile, gained share within its number one spot as the US sportswear giant topped both the clothing and footwear rankings.

Within footwear, Crocs also achieved a new survey record as the seventh place preferred footwear brand, while 52% of those surveyed named internet behemoth Amazon as their favourite online shopping website.

Erinn Murphy, Piper Jaffray senior research analyst, notes the fall Teen Survey continues to validate several characteristics of this digitally-native demographic

"Importantly, however, we saw the lowest teen spending levels in eight years," she adds. "The two most challenged categories were handbags and cosmetics as females reprioritise their spending with eating out and footwear/apparel. Broadly, the casualisation of fashion continues: Nike gained share within its No. 1 rank and Lululemon hit a new survey high as the No. 7 preferred apparel brand."

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