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US Teen Fashion market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Teen Fashion market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


This report explores attitudes and behaviors regarding fashion, style and clothes/accessories shopping among teens, defined as those aged 12-17. It covers where they buy their clothes, what motivates them to buy clothes, who or what influences what they wear, and their use of social media and other technology for interacting with fashion brands and retailers.

The report also includes boys’ and girls’ footwear and accessories defined as:

  • jewelry
  • scarves
  • hats
  • gloves
  • handbags
  • hair accessories, etc

Underwear, sleepwear, and swimwear are excluded from the scope of this report.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Diana Smith, a leading analyst in the Retail sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Many teen retailers have struggled (or failed) to keep up with today’s teens’ dynamic fashion preferences and digital prowess. Teens, however, are still invested in fashion despite competition for their money from other categories, namely electronics, and particularly tech devices. Retailers interested in garnering a share of the teen fashion market need to become digital leaders and social media experts as well as find ways to be nimble with merchandise assortments. Teens find their own sense of style, but they do look to retailers and brands for guidance. While they might not be loyal in the true sense of the word, they will develop affinities for brands that effectively demonstrate an understanding of – and respect for – who they are as individuals. Fair warning though: They migrate fast and are difficult to lure back once they have moved on. Retailers should be emulating others in the market that have managed to figure out how to keep in-store and online traffic and sales flowing at a steady pace. Diana Smith
Associate Director - Retail & Apparel

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Teens are fickle
            • Figure 1: Favorite brands, February 2016
          • Teens’ sense of style is self-defined and often fluid
            • Figure 2: Sense of style, by gender, February 2016
          • Teens are digital natives
            • Figure 3: Attitudes and behaviors regarding online life– Any agree, October 2014-December 2015
          • The opportunities
            • Create reasons for teens to shop
              • Figure 4: Reasons for clothes shopping, February 2016
            • Consider the importance of advertising and celebrity influence
              • Figure 5: Influencers, by gender, February 2016
            • Offer personalized, high-touch experiences
              • Figure 6: Interest in retail innovations, February 2016
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Teen population continues to diversify
                • Obesity lingers as a major issue facing today’s youth
                  • Teens have significant spending power
                    • Teens are digital natives
                    • Market Factors

                      • Teen share shrinking
                        • Figure 7: Teen population, by gender, 2011-21
                      • A diverse portrait
                        • Figure 8: Teen population, by race and hispanic origin, 2011-21
                      • More than one third of teens are overweight or obese
                        • One in three teens live in single-parent homes
                          • Figure 9: Household relationship and living arrangements of teens, 2013
                        • Teens have money
                            • Figure 10: What teens spend their money on, by gender, April 2013-June 2014
                          • Vying for their attention
                            • Teens have grown up online; interested in technology over apparel
                              • Mall traffic is waning
                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                • Teen fashion segment on the whole is struggling
                                  • Fast fashion and athleisurewear fit teens’ budgets and style preferences
                                    • Once a customer, always a customer?
                                      • Teens want stores to match their tech savviness
                                      • What’s Working?

                                          • Nike dominates
                                              • Figure 11: Correspondence analysis – Favorite brands, by gender, February 2016
                                            • Fast fashion retailers and those selling activewear outperforming others
                                              • Fitness/athleisurewear
                                                • Fast fashion
                                                  • Specialty stores
                                                  • What’s Struggling?

                                                    • Many retailers becoming irrelevant as teens focus more on experiences instead of apparel
                                                      • On the whole, accessories are down
                                                        • Figure 12: Accessories bought in last 12 months, October 2010-December 2015
                                                    • What’s Next?

                                                      • Technology advancements bring an element of fun to the shopping experience
                                                        • Virtual reality technology (VR)
                                                          • 3-D printing
                                                            • Figure 13: MakerBot Replicator desktop 3D Printer and Iris Van Herpen top made of 3-D printed material featured at National Retail Federation’s Big Show, New York City, January 2016
                                                          • Smart dressing rooms and magic mirrors
                                                            • Never too young to learn about fashion
                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Most teens describe their style as casual and simple
                                                                • Stocking up for school is primary reason for clothing purchases
                                                                  • Desire for the sensorial drives in-store shopping
                                                                    • Celebrities – particularly social media starlets – have huge appeal
                                                                      • Teens want to create their own looks and seek brands that enable this
                                                                      • Sense of Style

                                                                          • Most teens are laid back about fashion
                                                                            • Figure 14: Sense of style, February 2016
                                                                            • Figure 15: Self-descriptions about style, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                          • Both boys and girls claim to be on trend
                                                                            • Figure 16: Sense of style, by gender, February 2016
                                                                            • Figure 17: Opinions toward style – Any agree, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                            • Figure 18: Sense of style, by favorite brands, February 2016
                                                                          • Teens’ surroundings can impact their views toward style
                                                                            • Figure 19: Sense of style, by census region and area, February 2016
                                                                        • Reasons for Clothes Shopping

                                                                            • In with the new, out with the old
                                                                              • Figure 20: Reasons for clothes shopping, February 2016
                                                                            • One in five teens see apparel as a reward
                                                                              • Figure 21: Select reasons for clothes shopping, by gender and age, February 2016
                                                                            • Teens feel pressured to look good
                                                                              • Figure 22: Reasons for clothes shopping, by reasons for using beauty or personal care products, February 2016
                                                                          • Method of Shopping

                                                                              • Teens prefer in-store shopping for sensorial experiences
                                                                                • Figure 23: Method of shopping, February 2016
                                                                              • Hispanics more likely to shop online
                                                                                • Figure 24: Method of shopping, by select demographics, February 2016
                                                                              • Mobile devices are a lifeline
                                                                                • Figure 25: Attitudes toward cell phone/smartphone – Any agree, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                                • Figure 26: Attitudes and behaviors regarding online life – Any agree, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                            • Influencers

                                                                                • Teens are paying attention to the ads
                                                                                  • Figure 27: Influencers, February 2016
                                                                                • Teens want to laugh, hear new music, and see their favorite celebs in ads
                                                                                  • Figure 28: Teens’ commercial preferences, by age, February 2016
                                                                                • Celebrity influencers should not be ignored
                                                                                  • Figure 29: Influencers, by interest in spokespeople for beauty or personal care products, February 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 30: Favored celebrities among iGeneration, February 2016
                                                                                • Social media is an enabler for creating, sharing, and bonding with friends
                                                                                  • Instagram is a powerhouse
                                                                                    • YouTube boasts relatability
                                                                                      • Figure 31: Bethany Mota’s YouTube channel, April 2016
                                                                                      • Figure 32: Aspyn Ovard’s YouTube channel, Fashion section, April 2016
                                                                                      • Figure 33: Meg DeAngelis’ YouTube channel, April 2016
                                                                                    • Snapchat is hugely popular
                                                                                        • Figure 34: Visits social media websites daily, by gender, February 2016
                                                                                      • Fashion brands use teens to reach other teens
                                                                                      • Interest in Retail Innovations

                                                                                          • Experiences over possessions; FOMO can elevate intrigue
                                                                                              • Figure 35: Interest in retail innovations about experience, February 2016
                                                                                            • Experiences “for me”
                                                                                              • Figure 36: Interest in retail innovations about personalization, February 2016
                                                                                            • Boys want simplicity and guidance; girls want VIP treatment
                                                                                              • Figure 37: Interest in retail innovations, by gender and age, February 2016
                                                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                            • Data sources
                                                                                              • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                • Methodology for correspondence analysis
                                                                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                                                      • Terms
                                                                                                      • Appendix – Market

                                                                                                          • Figure 38: Percentage of overweight or obese teens 12-19, by gender, age, and race and Hispanic origin, 2011-12
                                                                                                          • Figure 39: Source of teen income, January-December 2014
                                                                                                          • Figure 40: Labor-force status of people aged 16 to 19, annual averages, 2005-15
                                                                                                          • Figure 41: Attitudes toward finance – Any agree, by gender and age, April 2013-June 2014
                                                                                                          • Figure 42: Who pays for clothing, by gender and age, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                                                          • Figure 43: Top 15 activities done on weekdays, by age and gender, January-December 2014
                                                                                                      • Appendix – Consumer

                                                                                                          • Figure 44: Girls’ items bought in last 12 months, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                                                          • Figure 45: Guys’ items bought in last 12 months, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                                                          • Figure 46: Accessories bought in last 12 months, October 2010- December 2015
                                                                                                          • Figure 47: Stores shopped in last three months, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                                                          • Figure 48: Footwear brands purchased in last 12 months, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                                                          • Figure 49: Who teens go clothes shopping with, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                                                          • Figure 50: Decision making regarding clothing choices, by gender, October 2014-December 2015
                                                                                                          • Figure 51: Attitudes toward social sharing websites, October 2014-December 2015