It’s no secret that teenagers are one of the most powerful groups of shoppers, but what drives them to look, engage or buy can be as tough to pin down as their ever-changing tastes and social habits. To get the scoop straight from the source, Footwear News spoke with five trend-conscious teenage girls with strong opinions and varying styles.
They dished on shopping: “I pretty much only shop in malls,” said 14-year-old New Jersey teenager Allison Dombrowski. “I love malls for all the stores in one place, but I never go to them,” said born-and-bred New Yorker Sara Kern, 18, who now attends college in Los Angeles.
They shed light on social media has-beens: “I kind of dislike Facebook, so I rarely go on it,” said Emily Tajima, 15, of New York. “Yeah, I’m on Facebook, but it’s kind of dead right now,” added Lucinda Palmer, 17, of Westfield, N.J.
The unabashed scoop from five talkative teens covered everything from money to must-haves — who influences their purchases, whether or not online shopping is really more convenient than brick-and-mortar stores, and what’s currently topping their wish lists.
What are some of your favorite brands and stores?
Lucinda: Steve Madden. He always has such a great selection, and you can find them at good prices.
Emily: I love Marc Jacobs for bags and accessories. I usually shop at H&M and Urban Outfitters for clothes, and Nike or Adidas for sports gear.
Ashley: Dr. Martens are my favorite. I wear them every day. When I’m not wearing those, I wear my black Converse sneakers. I also love Apple products.
Allison: I shop at PacSun and Tilly’s all the time. For shoes, I like Nike and Converse.
Sara: Topshop is my favorite store in the world. I get all my shoes from who I call “my man, Steve.” Do I even need to say his last name? [Editor’s note: She’s talking about teen favorite Steve Madden.]
Describe your style:
Allison: Modern but laid-back. I’m a jeans-and-sneakers kind of girl.
Emily: My style changes from day to day. I can go from old school rock chick — old band T-shirts and leggings with wedge booties — to girlie bohemian in flowing dresses.
Sara: I don’t like to look like everyone else, so I mix trendy pieces with uncommon pieces. It really depends on my mood.
Lucinda: I have an edgy street style. Most of my wardrobe is black and white. I love flannels, white tees and boyfriend jeans.
Ashley: I live in cardigans, jeans and high-waisted skirts.
Who do you like to go shopping with?
Sara: My grandmother. She picks out the cutest things, and we have a great time together.
Ashley: Alone or with my guy friends. Shopping with girls can get [competitive].
Emily: My friends.
What would you consider too expensive for a pair of shoes?
Allison: Between $100 and $120.
Emily: Anything above $200.
Ashley: My Dr. Martens were $130, but I would never spend $130 on a pair of shoes. Thankfully, my mom bought them for me.
Sara: It depends on the shoe. A good pair of boots can be expensive but will last. For something like sneakers or sandals, I’d never spend over $100.
Lucinda: I’m a student on a budget, but if I couldn’t live without it, I’d spend up to $200.
Thoughts on shopping online vs. in-store?
Sara: I love ordering shoes from Zappos.com because it’s so easy, but other than that, I like to try things on in-store.
Ashley: I shop online and in-store, and sometimes both. With Forever 21, I’ll make a list of things I want by browsing online, then go into the store with the product codes and have them pull up the items that are available.
Allison: I usually shop in-store. I have to see things in person.
Emily: In-store, so I don’t have to go through the stress of returning things online.
What’s your main source of money?
Sara: Right now, I have a job as a camp counselor.
Emily: My parents.
Allison: Money from holidays, birthdays or an allowance.
Ashley: I have a job and spend a lot of my own money, but not on clothes. I don’t want to blow my gas money on clothes!
Lucinda: I’m starting training for a new job soon, but I’m lucky that my parents give me spending money.
What influences how you shop?
Lucinda: I’m inspired by Kylie Jenner’s style. I try to emulate what she wears but make it my own.
Ashley: I don’t really follow celebrities as much as I do characters in TV shows. The character Violet from “American Horror Story” is a huge influence on my style.
Allison: My friends, because we all like to shop together.
How do you use social media?
Lucinda: I like following my favorite stores on Instagram so I can see what’s new.
Sara: Facebook is for keeping in touch with family. Instagram is where I connect with friends. Twitter is where I keep up with celebrities.
Ashley: I have a Facebook account but don’t really use it. I use Instagram to see what friends are up to. I use Tumblr for everything, and definitely for clothing and fashion ideas.
Do you find it helpful when a sales associate assists you in-store?
Emily: I like shopping independently, but if I’m shopping alone and need a second opinion, I will ask their thoughts.
Lucinda: I like to shop on my own. I understand it’s their job to help, but it can sometimes be stressful to the shopper.
Sara: I hate it. I like to take my time and look at every rack. I like to be alone and wander.
Have you ever shopped on your mobile device?
Lucinda: Once or twice.
Allison: I think so, either on Amazon.com or iTunes.
What’s on your wish list right now?
Allison: A desktop computer from Apple for school.
Sara: I’ve been looking for a pair of neutral booties that have the perfect-size heel and are comfortable.
Emily: I’m into playing the drums, so maybe a purple sparkly drum set, some new Nikes and the iPhone 6 when it comes out.
Lucinda: I really want some open-toe heels and a floral long-sleeve romper.
Ashley: I would love a kimono. They’re really popular right now.