Poll: Teens Decide On Clothing Purchases

Two kinds of hand-wringing occur during back-to-school shopping season.

Parents with teens wring their hands in worry over how to select and pay for the styles or brands their kids prefer.

Merchants wring their hands in anticipation of the back-to-school profits they’ll reap.

A recent back-to-school shopping study conducted by American Express indicates that teens, not their parents, make the majority of spending decisions.

And what is it that teens want in their back-to-school wardrobes?

Not surprisingly, 76 percent of the 500 teens polled say they want jeans, 86 percent of them say they want loose-fitting styles, and 80 percent say they prefer blue over any other color.

Four out of 10 teens cited Levi’s as their preferred brand of jeans. Calvin Klein jeans came in a distant second.

Parents will spend an average of $396 per teen on back-to-school items this year, according to the American Express survey.

If that number sounds steep, it could be because 71 percent of teens surveyed said that buying the right brand of clothing matters more to them than finding clothes that are on sale.

The top five preferred brands among teen girls are Calvin Klein, Levi’s and the Gap (a tie), Tommy Hilfiger and Guess.

The five most preferred brands among teen boys are Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Polo/Ralph Lauren and the Gap.

By taking the time to discuss back-to-school needs with her two teens, Clare Hobart of Atlanta has eased the stress of the shopping process.

The Hobarts are just getting used to shopping because 15-year-old Jim, a ninth-grader, and 13-year-old Mimi, a seventh-grader, spent their first six years as students at a private school, where they wore uniforms.

“It was very hard because they’d never had to pick out clothes before,” Hobart says.

She says her teenagers took the confusion out of clothes shopping when they informed her, “Anything’s fine, as long as it’s from the Gap.”

“I’ll probably buy the same kind of stuff I wore last year … jeans and sort of nice shirts,” Mimi says.

“Last year I got my jeans at Old Navy (a subsidiary of the Gap), and I’ll probably go back there because they fit me good. I sort of dress like my friends because I don’t want to stand out.

“But I also don’t try to be too boring. I try to get a good mix of normal things for everyday and something I could wear like once a week that will get comments, good or bad.”

The Hobart teens say they think they’ve taught their mom enough about their senses of style to go back to school worry-free.

“She pretty much knows the difference between what’s dorky and what’s normal,” Mimi says.

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