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Kid fashion forensics

What We Found: Value for money seems to be a top priority, with a whopping 81% of our Reactorz kid panelists saying they would rather buy several lower-priced items than ...
August 1, 2003

What We Found:

Value for money seems to be a top priority, with a whopping 81% of our Reactorz kid panelists saying they would rather buy several lower-priced items than just one designer piece. But then that may have something to do with the fact that although kids choose which threads to buy, their parents still fork over the dough. And with that purchasing power comes the right to veto, which parents typically only exercise when an item is deemed too expensive, too small/big or unflattering for the child’s body shape. Kids say their folks sometimes pipe up about the age-appropriateness of items that have found their way into the shopping cart (i.e. jeans that are too low-riding or, for boys, clothes that look too street or gangster). But those battles are rare, and kids don’t get too upset when their parents put their foot down.

Although kids are sensitive to pricing and appreciate the bargains on offer at discount chains like Wal-Mart and second-hand stores such as Goodwill, 75% deemed both of these types of retail outlets as embarrassing places to shop. So what are their fave stores? Big-brand chains like The Gap, Old Navy and La Senza Girl (obviously a fave with the girls only) are on top. But it should be noted that a substantial number of kids are still looking to save their parents money and prefer to shop at department and discount stores such as Sears and Wal-Mart.

As far as style influence goes, friends and peers hold the biggest sway, with store displays also having an impact on indecisive kid shoppers. Surprisingly, kids say celebrities don’t really affect their fashion choices because the clothes they wear are too expensive.

It’s interesting that the few celebrities mentioned by our girl panelists as influences are very close to their own age: Avril Lavigne, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Amanda Bynes and Hilary Duff. They’re also young women who sport variations on the ‘girl next door’ look, which is easier for most kids to achieve. Some boys who go for a sportier look admit to checking out what their favorite athletes are wearing for style ideas.

As far as what’s hot right now, girls are loving capris, flower skirts and low-rider flare jeans. Boys are wearing track pants, baggy jeans and sports jerseys. Since both boys and girls love their T-shirts, we asked them if there were any entertainment-based characters they’d like to see on tees. About a quarter of our panelists would rather wear plain, unadorned shirts, but those who do like licensed tees pegged the cast from The Simpsons as their favorite characters to wear. Many kids say they won’t wear clothing featuring babyish character images (i.e. Barney or the Teletubbies). But interestingly, classics such as Winnie the Pooh and Looney Tunes fall under the ‘cool’ category, and comic book heroes like The Hulk and Spider-Man were popular with some of the boys.

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