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

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.


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.

US teens are too fat for Zara or H&M

Thread killer.


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?

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?

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.

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?

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.

Are these my kids' only two choices?

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

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.

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

Ballmer isn't the role model, Kanye is!

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

What about the identity signalling of not having a smartphone?

"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.

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.

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.

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