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American Eagle Bets on Stretch Jeans for Back-to-School

With new denim fits and a flashy campaign, teen denim retailer American Eagle (AE) is gearing up for another back-to-school season—but this time, things are a little different.

Featuring dancer and TikTok personality Addison Rae and a cast of Gen Zers with a shared love of dance, the company’s #AExME campaign celebrates the autonomy that has resulted from the pandemic.

Each part of the campaign, from styling to shooting and production, was done by the cast members themselves through a combination of Zoom, cell phone photography, Polaroids and cameras. Even hair and makeup, under the guidance of makeup artist Allie Smith, was applied by the campaign’s stars.

The campaign’s emphasis on dance highlights several new stretch denim jeans that allow for ease of movement. The women’s Dream jeans—a jegging fit available in a wide scope of washes and finishes—boasts lifting and four-way stretch components. The men’s Airflex+ offers an authentic look with a high level of stretch. The jean is available in athletic, skinny, slim and straight fits.

In addition to denim, AE is introducing an assortment of tops with influences from the ’90s, ’70s and streetwear.

“At AE, we are always looking to engage with our customers on how and where they are spending their time—TikTok has become increasingly important,” said Chad Kessler, American Eagle global brand president. “Although back-to-school may look different this year, we know that our customers will continue to express themselves through music and dance and that social media will remain the No. 1 way they interact.”

AE isn’t the only teen denim retailer turning to TikTok to connect with consumers for back-to-school promotions. Hollister recently released its campaign with TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio and Noah Pugliano, along with science educator and ’90s TV personality Bill Nye.

With U.S. school reopenings in flux, the denim industry is preparing for a back-to-school season like no other—though some remain optimistic. Recent data from Cotton Incorporated shows shoppers plan on spending more on apparel, albeit on fewer items. Others predict that comfortable styles—including stretch denim like AE’s new fits—will be bestsellers.