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Back to school: how Gen Y stays Superdry and Super cool Back to school: how Gen Y stays Superdry and Super cool

Today is ‘back to school’-day for most kids and teens. Many parents will be amazed when they see their kids choose their ‘first day at school’ outfits. They will be even more surprised when they bring their teens to the gates and see that all their friends look almost exactly the same…

Kipling: money see, monkey do

Many of them will wear Superdry shirts or hoodies and the amount of freshly bought Kipling schoolbags in fashionable colours will certainly be on the rise again. Both brands have recently gained or regained coolness. Kipling, a brand created in Antwerp and famous for its unique monkey key-hangers is since 2004 part of the VF Corporation. It’s the fashion holding that also owns other youth targeting brands like Vans, Eastpak and 7 for All Mankind. Since 2008 the VF marketing staff has brought some new coolness and increased uniqueness into their bag collection introducing collaborations with talented designers from all around the world endorsed by campaigns with top models from Belgium like Elise Crombez and Anouck Lepère.

David Beckham attributes to Superdry’s heritage

Superdry is the new kid on the block. The British fashion retailer opened its first shop in 2004 in Covent Garden in London and the brand’s international expansion only began in 2008. Superdry is now available in 20 countries across 4 continents. The brand’s uniqueness stems from its pseudo-Japanese typography combined with vintage American fabrics and styles. Superdry became popular without big advertising budgets, but rapidly gained attention when David Beckham was seen wearing Osaka T-shirts an Superdry leather jackets.

Why teens look alike: the ‘chameleon outfitter’

So, why are so many teens wearing the same brands, the same clothes, and even the same colours at school? It seems like a paradox with a generation that is known to be self-aware and embraces own creativity and style… Teens growing up, especially between the age of 11 and 17, are still looking for their own identity. Fitting in with a group on one hand and finding out your own personal values and styles on the other hand are important phases in a teen’s identity development. We know from the research for our book that teenagers are ‘chameleon outfitters’. They adapt to the colours, brands, patterns and styles from the social group to which they belong. That’s why often in one school a certain brand can be very popular while in another only a few miles away a totally different brand might be the aspired one. During puberty being different carries a big social risk. To fit it with the group, it is safe to choose for instance Superdry clothes and a Kipling schoolbag or Eastpak backpack when everyone is wearing the same brand, because it won’t lead to negative feedback from peers. Teens will intelligently use smaller and safe accessories such as belts, scarves, jewels or handbags to articulate their unique personality. These items can easily be removed in case one of their friends at school makes negative comments about them.

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