By Thomas J. Ryan

Athletic brands once again commanded the top spots among fashion preferences for teens, according to Piper Jaffray’s 38th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens survey* with 75-percent of females and 87-percent of males preferring an athletic brand of footwear—both new peaks.

Among brands, Nike saw re-accelerating share gains as the No. 1 footwear and apparel brand. Nike has led both apparel and footwear for nine straight years in the survey.

As a preferred apparel brand, Nike held a 23 percent share versus 22 percent last year and 22 percent in Spring 2019. As a preferred footwear brand, it held a 42 percent share versus 41 percent last year. Both upticks mark a reversal in share loss that was seen in Piper Jaffray’s Spring 2019 survey.

Lululemon moved up within the Top 10 preferred apparel brands to No. 7 (a new peak) versus No. 11 last year. Among all females, Lululemon was No. 6, and among all males, the brand was No. 13. Looking at upper-income females, Lulu was the No. 2 apparel brand (versus No. 6 last year) at a substantial 9 percent share—second only to American Eagle. Among upper-income males, the brand was No. 9. As an athletic apparel brand, Lululemon is the No. 2 preferred brand after Nike for all upper-income teens, the second consecutive time it ranked above Adidas.

Vans remained the No. 2 footwear brand, at 20 percent share, in line with Piper Jaffray’s Spring 2019 survey. Vans also improved from No. 9 to No. 8 as a preferred apparel brand, marking a new survey high.

Adidas, generally, was stable as the No. 3 apparel and footwear brand. As a footwear brand, while still No. 3, mindshare moderated from 14 percent to 13 percent. Among upper-income teens, Adidas is now No. 3 as a preferred athletic brand versus No. 2 last year as Lululemon jumped ahead. Adidas also moved down on the “new brand being worn” and climbed up on the “old brand no longer worn” list among females.

Under Armour had mixed reads in the survey. On the positive, it was the No. 9 preferred footwear brand among all teens—the highest rating in footwear ever and compared to No. 12 in Spring 2019 and Fall 2018. UA is also the No. 12 preferred apparel brand versus No. 15 in the Spring survey and No. 12 last year. As an athletic brand, Under Armour is the No. 4 preferred apparel brand for upper-income (stable share sequentially and up 100 basis points versus last year) and the No. 3 for average income (stable share). That said, the glaring negative is that Under Armour seems to be bucketed as a brand teens identify as “no longer wearing” at 21 percent share. From a marketing standpoint, one positive was that UA’s brand ambassador/collaborator Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is highly relevant for the demographic as he hits the No. 4 favorite celebrity and No. 7 ranked influencer.

Among other brands, a notable mover in footwear was Crocs, moving from No. 13 to No. 7 as a preferred brand among teens. Streetwear brand Supreme continues to fade in Piper Jaffray’s survey as do prep brands Ralph Lauren, Vineyard Vines and Sperry. Within the “retro”/90s brands, the survey saw the strength of Championnow in the Top 10 brand list. Victoria’s Secret is also losing appeal with teens.

The Key Top 10 Lists related to the active lifestyle space in the Survey are:

  • Favorite Apparel Brands (all respondents): Nike, 23 percent; American Eagle, 10 percent; Adidas, 6 percent; Hollister, 4 percent; PacSun, 4 percent; Forever 21, 3 percent; Lululemon, 3 percent; Vans, 3 percent; H&M, 2 percent; and Champion, 2 percent.
  • Favorite Footwear Brands (all respondents): Nike, 42 percent; Vans, 20 percent; Adidas, 13 percent; Converse, 4 percent; Foot Locker, 3 percent; Birkenstock, 2 percent; Crocs, 1 percent; New Balance (tied for seven), 1 percent; Under Armour, 1 percent; and Steve Madden 1 percent.
  • Top Fashion Trends Right Now (upper income male teens): Nike/Jordans, 13 percent; Athletic Wear, 11 percent; Vans, 7 percent; Champion, 5 percent; Adidas, 4 percent; Hoodies, 3 percent; Shorts, 3 percent; Sweat Shirts, 3 percent; Chains, 3 percent; and Short Shorts, 2 percent.
  • Top Fashion Trends Right Now (upper income female teens): Leggings/Lululemon, 17 percent; Scrunchies, 10 percent; Nike/Jordans, 6 percent; Baggy/Saggy Pants, 6 percent; Jeans, 5 percent; Vans, 5 percent; Crop Tops, 4 percent; VSCO, 4 percent; Birkenstock, 3 percent; and Ripped Jeans, 3 percent.
  • Top Brands Starting To Be Worn (upper income male teens): Adidas, 15 percent; Champion, 11 percent; Nike, 9 percent; Vans, 7 percent; Under Armour, 4 percent; Hollister, 3 percent; American Eagle, 3 percent; Lululemon, 2 percent; Ralph Lauren, 2 percent; and Vineyard Vines (tied for nine), 2 percent.
  • Top Brands Starting To Be Worn (upper income female teens): American Eagle, 8 percent; Lululemon, 7 percent; Vans, 7 percent; Brandy Melville, 6 percent; Champion, 5 percent; Urban Outfitters, 4 percent; PacSun, 4 percent; Nike, 3 percent; Hollister, 3 percent; and Adidas, 3 percent.
  • Top Brands No Longer Worn (upper income male teens): Under Armour, 21 percent; Nike, 12 percent; Adidas, 7 percent; Gap, 7 percent; Reebok, 6 percent; Skechers, 5 percent; Puma, 5 percent; Old Navy, 3 percent; Vineyard Vines, 3 percent; and Hollister, 3 percent.
  • Top Brands No Longer Worn (upper income female teens): Justice, 38 percent; Aeropostale, 7 percent; Gap, 5 percent; Abercrombie & Fitch, 4 percent; Hollister, 4 percent; Forever 21, 3 percent; Nike (tied for six), 3 percent; American Eagle, 3 percent; Adidas, 3 percent; Victoria’s Secret (tied for nine), 3 percent.

Broader findings from the survey included:

  • Overall teen “self-reported” spending contracted in Fall 2019 by 4 percent year-over-year and 10 percent sequentially to $2,400, the lowest since Fall 2011.
  • Thirty-two percent of teens believe the economy is getting worse, higher than the 25 percent level in Fall 2018.
  • Food continues to be male teens No. 1 spending category (23 percent), clothing is female teens No. 1 wallet share (27 percent).
  • Video games are now at 9 percent of total teen wallet versus 8 percent last year with females driving the uptick.
  • Teens spend 37 percent of their daily video consumption on YouTube ahead of Netflix at 35 percent.
  • 83 percent of teens own an iPhone, and 86 percent of teens expect an iPhone to be their next phone both in-line with all-time survey highs.
  • Instagram remains the most frequented social media platform among teens for the third consecutive survey.
  • Teens care about social/political issues naming the Environment, Immigration and Gun Control as the top-three issues.
  • This fall’s favorite celebrity is Kevin Hart, and the most followed influencer on social media is David Dobrik.

*Piper Jaffray Taking Stock With Teens survey is a semi-annual research project that gathers input from thousands of teens with an average age of 15.8 years. Discretionary spending patterns, fashion trends, technology, brand, and media preferences are assessed through surveying a geographically diverse subset of high schools across the U.S. Since the project began in 2001, Piper Jaffray has surveyed over 180,000 teens and collected over 45.4 million data points on teen spending.