The National Retail Federation has estimated that b-t-s spending will reach $13.39 billion this year, down from $14.79 billion last year. WWD reported earlier this week that sales have been sluggish, due to high temperatures and soaring gas prices. Still, many retailers put their b-t-s goods out early this year, hoping to cash in on the Bohemian and Western fads of the season. Look-Look Inc., a research, marketing and trend firm specializing in youth culture, has provided the top fashion accessories female students are planning to purchase this b-t-s season. DeeDee Gordon, co-president of Look-Look, said, “Jewelry has been so popular among younger people — the quality is better these days, and the products are closer to what’s happening on the runway.”
Percentage of female students who plan on purchasing for back-to-school: 44
Claire’s Stores, an accessories retailer that targets teens and young adults, features a section on its Web site titled “Bohemian Beat.” Wooden rings, feathered brooches and chunky beaded necklaces and bracelets can all be found at claires.com. Marla Schaefer, co-chairman and co-chief executive officer of Claire’s, told WWD that in addition to Bohemian styles, customers also like gold earrings and extra-long necklaces.
Hobo bags and oversized totes are the way to go for back-to-schoolers this fall. Reason number one: They’re in fashion this season. Reason number two: Oversized bags can potentially fit schoolbooks and supplies, eliminating the need for a separate backpack or shoulder bag. Trendy retailer Urban Outfitters offers both the bags and totes, while Wal-Mart features hobo bags and oversized crochet bags with sequins on its Web site.
“American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood has been spotted in a slew of Skechers’ new sneaker ads for fall. The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based company signed her in July. Underwood, a longtime wearer of the brand, succeeds Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears as the new face of Skechers. Other recent ads feature action shots of students in private-school uniforms wearing Skechers sneakers, to target those heading back to school.
Oversized, colorful and bejeweled belts have hit the junior sections of department stores like Macy’s. Sash belts are also featured at macys.com. Belts have been seen accompanied with jeans, skirts or dresses, all in an effort to live up to the popular Bohemian theme. For b-t-s, Aéropostale’s collection includes studded leather and metallic jeweled leather belts, both retailing for about $25.
- BACKPACKS/MESSENGER BAGS
Target features backpacks on one of its latest television advertisements, where kids of all ages show off various styles available — as a remake of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” plays in the background. In addition to backpacks, sling bags from C9 by Champion and messenger bags from Mossimo are hot items for the discount retailer. An added bonus for Target shoppers: Students can conveniently pick up all their school supplies there, too.
- HAIR ACCESSORIES
Colorful headbands, sequined head wraps and hairpins adorning butterflies or oversized flowers are all the rage at Claire’s Stores this year. And Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters is featuring its line of hair scarves for fall: Often adorned with sequins or prints, the collection is mostly made of silk or cotton.
- DRESS SHOES
“For young people who like to dress up, outfits have to start with the footwear,” said Gordon, of Look-Look Inc. Hot shoe brands like Mudd and Unlisted will provide ideal options for those choosing to get gussied up on their first day of school. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. offers choices under the Mudd and Arizona lines, while Nordstrom Inc. sells dressy numbers via the Unlisted and Steve Madden brands, among others.
American Eagle Outfitters features fall scarves on its Web site, ranging from $6.50 to $15.50. The AE Striped Campus Scarf is made of cotton and is versatile in its range of uses: Young women can use it as a head wrap or neck scarf indoors or out, or they can tie it as a sash or belt around the waist.
Old Navy’s trendy straw cowboy hat is so popular that it’s out of stock at the moment on the retailer’s Web site. Instead, females can snatch up various newsboy caps, available in tweed and corduroy; some contain oversized sequined flower pins. Another popular item available is a vintage-style hat, made of 100 percent wool, whose brim can be worn down or flipped up.
Students looking to buy a watch at Nordstrom will be impressed with the selection. The Seattle-based department store’s selection is extensive for juniors, featuring watches from brands such as DKNY, Fossil, Diesel and Anne Klein.
- IPod/PDA/LAPTOP/CELL PHONE CASES*
“IPod cases have remained at the top of our polls over the past couple of years, but this year it’s surprisingly low,” Gordon said. “Getting a camera phone isn’t as special these days. Buying an iPod isn’t as special, either. The techy products are too mainstream now — so the demand for accessories to accompany those products is going down.”
It’s a hard time of year to imagine purchasing gloves, but 13 percent of respondents still planned to buy them for the school year. Perhaps because of heightened awareness or interest in knitting, items like gloves and scarves have become trendy accessories to make as well. “Knitting is big as a hobby these days — it’s a favorite pastime of lots of young people,” Gordon pointed out.
Source: Look-Look Inc., based in hollywood. Female students were asked to select all applicable fashion accessories they planned to purchase for back-to-school. *Indicates a tie.