Light-up takkies, glittery notebooks and emoji-encrusted pencil bags might well have been on your shopping list this term. Here, retailers and analysts weigh in on the biggest trends this year:
Cargo shorts, jeans, hoodies, even school uniforms are being reconfigured to accommodate cellphones and tablets. Meanwhile, some retailers have introduced laptop-friendly backpacks with cord compartments and headphone ports.
“This is really about function seeping into fashion. Younger and younger kids are taking cellphones and laptops to school,” shopping analyst Trae Bodge said.
The year’s it-colour, Bodge says, is “an ironic pink”. The muted salmon shade is cropping up everywhere - on clothing, couches and ceilings - and now retailers say it’s taking over school supplies.
“It’s definitely the year’s big trend,” says Petter Knutrud, head of merchandising at one store.
“Notebooks, pencils, folders, erasers. We’re seeing it across multiple departments and designs.” And Bodge also expects it to be a popular shade for girls’ clothing and hair dye next year.
“The big thing about millennial pink is that it isn’t too girly. This isn’t the classic bubble-gum pink that a lot of girls have turned their backs on,” she said.
Students are increasingly “studying by day, gaming by night” - and want a laptop that can do both, said Knutrud, referring to a store with lightweight laptops that can be carried from class to class, and then used for high-performance video games in the evenings.
This year’s sneakers are awash in neon colours, sequins, pom-poms and flashing lights.
“Kids have limited ways to express their personalities. That’s where bright and exciting sneakers come in,” Bodge said.
One example: Skechers’ Twinkle Toes line, which includes light-up sneakers covered in neon-coloured cats, glitter emojis, metallic sequins and iridescent unicorns. Some also have pom-poms, rhinestones and three-dimensional flowers.
At Walmart, executives are banking on Flashlights, a line of high-top sneakers with light-up soles, to rack up $25-million (R331m) in back-to-school sales.
Accessories for everything
It’s not just sneakers that are getting an over-the-top facelift this year. Retailers say add-ons like pom-poms, stickers and emoji icons are making their way onto everything from notepads to pencil pouches.
“How do you take the everyday stuff you use and make it more ‘you’? That’s the big question this year,” Knutrud said.
“A notebook can’t just be a plain notebook anymore. It’s got to have little doo-dads.”
To that end, he said Office Depot has begun adding special displays of accessories - keychains, charms, pencil toppers, “donut-shaped” erasers - throughout the store.