Last week, The New York Times published an article on the decline of teen fashion. The story’s cover image seemed reflective of the shift away from the conspicuous logos ubiquitous in American middle and high schools of the 2000s. “Clothes aren’t as important to me…I don’t really care,” one sixteen-year-old told the reporter. Accompanying the Times article late last week was news of Abercrombie and Fitch’s brand overhaul. Instead of continuing to push its iconic heavily branded T-shirts and jeans, it has decided in light of declining sales to do away with overt labels altogether.
By and large, teens interviewed by the Times cite the massive amount of entertainment they obtain from their phones as the motivating factor behind their preference for fashionable technology over clothing. Because phones and computers occupy such a major role in their lives, serving as a tool in virtually every situation, it seems more worthwhile to invest in them than clothing, which serves far fewer purposes. Wearable technology is beginning to change that, but its uses are still far more limited than a phone’s functions. Where else besides a phone can one find a portable MP3 player, endless source of information, GPS, financial monitor, ride orderer, camera, and social communication aid all in one?
Color me skeptical, however, that these teens’ announcements of apathy reflect total indifference to the clothes they’re wearing. Even while she announces that a phone is a “better distraction” than an outfit, the young woman in the cover image looks chic in her minimalistic black dress. Many teens consider coolness in every purchase they make, and while the primary status marker may have shifted from the brands you’re wearing to the brand you’re using to call an Uber, clothing styles remain important in creating an impression. Individuality is also a highly sought-after trait among millennials, and fashion is an important medium to express uniqueness. Teens still budget for clothes, also: in our recent webinar with BTO Sports and Oink, we discussed how 57% of teens are saving money to buy apparel.
While the teen fashion titans of yesteryear are struggling to maintain the limited business they still have, other retailers have found success in leveraging the technology and social media teens love so much to engage with them and create buzz about their brand via user generated content. Tech and clothes don’t have to be at odds for teen purchasing, as the Times’ tone suggests. When teens see that their friends and people they admire are using a brand via social media, they are more likely to purchase that brand. Fortunately for marketers, there is a new arsenal of tools to help gather and curate user-generated content. ReadyPulse can help you by delivering social proof on-demand and at-scale. Our influencer marketing software enables you to display authorized user-generated content likely already being posted on social media on your website, social media accounts, and even in-store.