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Could Denim Be Making a Comeback?

If today’s teens are tomorrow’s leaders, apparel brands betting heavily on athleisure are in for a rude awakening.

According to the latest semi-annual spending survey from Piper Jaffray, published this week, Nike clothing is favored by 21 percent of teens. But while trendy activewear is still growing in popularity among adolescent girls, holding 17 percent market share, their male counterparts’ tastes have shifted slightly and sales have paused.

The investment bank and asset management firm talked to about 6,500 young people with an average age of 16.5 years for the 31st edition of its “Taking Stock With Teens” survey and discovered that while overall spending is down compared to last spring, the percentage of wallet spend on key fashion categories—clothing, accessories and footwear—is up to 38 percent, versus 36 percent a year ago among upper-income teens.

Furthermore, apparel spending among females is twice that of males, on average, for the first time since the inception of the survey.

Also gaining ground this year: American Eagle and Hollister. Both classic, preppy brands climbed to numbers two and five with 8 percent and 4 percent market share respectively. And while comfy bottoms like leggings and joggers were among the top teen fashion trends a year ago, the new survey found that denim brands saw an uptick to 14 percent aggregated mindshare and showed up as a top trend among upper-income females for the first time since Fall 2013.

Source: Piper Jaffray

Other preferred brands include Forever 21 and Ralph Lauren, compared to last spring’s obsession with Lululemon, Victoria’s Secret Pink, Under Armour and Vineyard Vines, indicating that teen boys and girls alike are stepping up their style game.

Something that hasn’t changed since last year’s survey: arm candy. Michael Kors (38 percent), Kate Spade (16 percent) and Coach (12 percent) are still the top three most popular handbag brands for young girls, which isn’t a surprise as most of their styles retail under $500. Some teens appear to be dropping four figures on a purse, however, as Louis Vuitton and Gucci factored into the top five, too.

But while athletic apparel appears to have hit a wall, sneakers are still the runaway shoe choice, with Nike, Vans, Converse and Adidas all dominating the category.