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Thieves and Teens Have the Same Taste in Sneakers

The sneaker brand that criminals can’t stop stealing is the maker that’s got a stranglehold on Kanye-loving kids.

That’s according to the latest Piper Sandler teen survey, which tapped 14,500 high-school-age youth averaging 15.8 years old to discover the who and what behind the next gen’s spending trends. They resoundingly voted Nike as their preferred brand for footwear (60 percent) and apparel (31 percent), cementing the Swoosh in the No. 1 spot. The Jordan Brand owner also ranked among the Top 4 shopping sites with 6 percent, though Amazon again dominated with more 52 percent saying the digital juggernaut gets the commerce job done.

Shein’s marketing machine seems to paying off. Apparently absent from the investment bank’s spring survey, the fast-fashion etailer emerged as teens’  No. 2 shopping site (8 percent) while 4 percent of the vote propelled the Christian Siriano partner to No. 5 on the clothing front. Kids also want to be seen in Lululemon (6 percent), American Eagle (6 percent) and H&M (4 percent).

Crocs improved one spot from No. 6 on the spring’s shoe ranking, while Converse (10 percent), Adidas (7 percent) and Vans (7 percent) round out the Top 5—seemingly confirming one expert’s opinion that a “sneaker supercycle” is gripping the market. Piper Sandler senior research analyst Edward Yruma, who pointed out that “Converse gained share at the expense of Adidas and Vans,” said Dr. Martens is on the decline (though the British brand’s loafers should appeal to coming-of-age spenders discovering what’s old is new again).

Secondhand spending remained unchanged from the spring with 7 percent participating, despite all the discussion about fashion resale’s upward trajectory and Gen Z’s penchant for penny-pinching thrift.

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Teen closets might be bursting with jeans, a category which Piper Sandler said is showing signs of a slowdown. “Fashion continues to shift,” Yruma said, adding, “interest in jeans and baggy/saggy pants [is] continuing to weaken” as leggings still go strong.

Teens’ top tastemakers reflect what some might see as cause for concern. Levi’s influencer Emma Chamberlain slipped to the No. 2 from her top billing in the spring. Problematic personality Andrew Tate, known for saying women should “bare [sic] some responsibility” for rape, edged the 21-year-old as the most popular influencer, while Gap-dissing Ye took a step down to third place.

Coach is the handbag status symbol of choice for 18 percent of female teens, ahead of Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade and Chanel. TikTok, with 38 percent of the teen vote, continues capturing this generation’s limited attention span and widened its lead over No. 2 Snapchat (30 percent) and No. 3 Instagram (20 percent). No wonder the ByteDance-owned viral video platform is looking to build a fulfillment network to growing its budding TikTok Shop business and steal e-commerce market share. Teens said their daily time on social media averages 4.4 hours.

Retailers might be encouraged to learn that female survey takers say they’re spending 10 percent more than a year ago, with clothing (10 percent) and footwear (7 percent) benefitting from their consumption.

The “conscious generation” seems to be passionate about a number of social issues, with the environment the No. 1 concern (15 percent) while 53 percent “consider carbon footprint when making purchase decisions,” Yruma said.

What else is on their minds? Abortion (11 percent), racial equality (9 percent), inflation (8 percent) and gas prices.