Is tech outcompeting other forms of signaling, such as clothing expenditures?

by on February 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm in Economics, Web/Tech | Permalink

For teenage boys, maybe:

Another factor chipping away at teenage retailers may be the shifting priorities among young people. Where clothing was once the key to signaling a teenager’s identity, other items may have become more important and now compete for their dollars.

“Probably the most important thing a teenage boy has is his smartphone,” said Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus. “Second, is probably his sneakers. Third, maybe, we get to his jeans.”

What may trump all of those, Mr. Jaffe said, are gaming systems, especially over the last few months, because Xbox and PlayStation both released new game consoles in 2013. That may have taken a bite out of what teenagers had to spend on clothes.

The Elizabeth A. Harris article, which focuses on declining teen expenditures on retail clothing, is interesting throughout.

1 Michael February 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Everyone’s freaking out because AEO, ANF, and GPS are underperforming. No one seems to be contemplating the possibility that private companies Zara and H&M are just stealing marketshare.

2 Axa February 2, 2014 at 1:02 pm

US teens are too fat for Zara or H&M

3 Willitts February 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Thread killer.

4 dead serious February 3, 2014 at 9:07 am


5 Adam J Calhoun (neuroecology) February 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm

The answer is in the article:

“You can buy a plaid shirt at Abercrombie that’s like $70,” said Daniela Donayre, 17, standing in a Topshop in Manhattan. “Or I can go to Forever 21 and buy the same shirt for $20.”

The internet has made this easier, too.

Are teens spending less on clothes? Or less on clothes that were fashionable a decade and a half ago?

6 Rahul February 2, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Maybe Internet shopping has also taken away some stigma from been seen by friends to be shopping at a cheap / non-cool store? Made it easier to actually buy what you want to buy?

7 Alexei Sadeski February 3, 2014 at 4:07 am

The problem of low end stores are all of the low end shoppers there!

Totally agree though – internet shopping lets one avoid the mouth breathers, makes it easier to get what you actually want.

8 Urso February 3, 2014 at 10:04 am

My extremely anecdotal experience is that I went to the mall last weekend and saw more people walking around with forever 21 bags than with bags any other store. The way teens outgrow fashions (and sizes) it makes no sense for them to spend extra $ on quality clothes – so what if the Forever 21 shirt falls apart in a year?

9 Finch February 3, 2014 at 11:33 am

I’ve heard the same argument from women about H&M. It’s not going to last, but it’s cheap enough to make wearing it for a short time economical.

10 Marie February 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Are these my kids’ only two choices?

11 Master Race February 3, 2014 at 3:49 am

PC gaming master race. Have them build their own machine.

12 Anti-ummmm February 2, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Parents have less discretionary income – smaller allowances. Fewer opportunities for kids to work because adults are taking the McService jobs. People are becoming more savvy about money – $70 for pants vs. $30 at the GAP. Kids are less materialistic – the bad economy and inequality doesn’t escape them.

13 Danny February 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Tech billionaires dress in jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies. How do you expect kids to care about fashion if their role models don’t?

14 Alexei Sadeski February 3, 2014 at 4:08 am

Ballmer isn’t the role model, Kanye is!

15 Axa February 3, 2014 at 5:53 am

Kanye West sells a $120 white t-shirt, don’t expect fashionable hoodies to be any cheaper.

16 Tim February 2, 2014 at 6:13 pm

What about the identity signalling of not having a smartphone?

17 abe February 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm

“What about the identity signalling of not having a smartphone?”

They are really useful and cool toys. What’s abominable is the fact that communication carriers like at&t and verizon will not allow you to treat a “smartphone” as a dumb phone by only letting you use voice and text on them like you could on a dumb phone — if you have a “smartphone,” a data plan is required! Absurd if you could just rely on wi-fi.

18 sunbomb February 2, 2014 at 9:38 pm

I have a ‘home’ line that is voice and text only with T-Mobile. They even give you 500MB of free high-speed data per month and throttle you down after that, for free. They are really disrupting this market. Hope it works for them.

19 Todd Fletcher February 3, 2014 at 11:58 am

When I got a smart phone I went for the cheapest data plan, which I’ve never more than dented, even though I pay no attention to how much I download. I can’t imagine what people are doing that would require the upgrade, watching HD pron all day? I don’t get it.

20 Randi February 3, 2014 at 7:06 pm

You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the
greatest blogs on the web. I most certainly will recommend this website!

21 most recently uploaded videos youtube February 4, 2014 at 12:00 am

Hi there! This post couldn’t be written anyy better!
Reading this post reminds me oof my good old room mate!
He always kept chatting about this. I will forward thiis write-up
to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many hanks for sharing!

22 February 5, 2014 at 8:46 am

Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective.
A lot of times it’s hard to get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and visual appeal.
I must say you’ve done a very good job with this. Additionally, the
blog loads super quick for me on Opera. Excellent Blog!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: