Gen Z & Millennials Think This Clothing Brand Has More Unique Styles Than Nike

Our youth brand tracker asks Gen Z & Millennials what clothing brands have the most unique styles—and one brand knocks Nike from the top of the ranking…

A few years ago, we explored the idea that sameness had become passé among young consumers in our trend Unique is the New Cool—and we’ve continued to see Gen Z and Millennials prize individuality. While young people in previous generations wanted nothing more than to fit in, now standing out is the goal. Ypulse’s shopping and fashion survey this year found that 54% of 13-36-year-olds say they would rather stand out than fit in, and 78% say they like to dress in their own unique style. The desire for unique looks has even helped give rise to the still-going-strong intentionally ugly trend—giving unexpected brands like Crocs a boost among young shoppers. Young consumers are seeking out brands and styles that help them to feel one of a kind—and one brand stands out as the place they think has the most unique items.   

Our youth brand tracker Ybrands launched in January and has collected over 61,000 interviews so far this year, tracking brands across a variety of variables. Last week, we told you which fashion retail brands young consumers think are the hottest right now—but we also keep track of which brands offers one of a kind or unique styles. Here is the top rankings of the fashion retailers they see as the most unique:

*Ybrands measures young consumers’ relationships with a brand based on a weighted 6-point scale, ranging from “Never heard of this brand” to “This brand is one of my favorites.” For fashion and apparel brands, we also ask respondents “Which of the following offer ONE OF A KIND OR UNIQUE STYLES?” These are the top brands that were rated “one of a kind/unique,” among those who are aware of the brand. The brands on this list are among the almost 300 brands included in the brand tracker as of 12/11. Rankings are subject to change as more brands are added and removed. 

There you have it: Hot Topic is at the top of the ranking of retailers that offer unique or one of a kind looks according to 13-36-year-olds, beating out Nike, and fast fashion retailers.

Now, Xers and even older Millennials might remember Hot Topic best for its emo/light goth styles. But there is a very different reason that Hot Topic is top of mind for young consumers when it comes to one of a kind looks: they’ve made a new reputation for themselves as a go-to source for Next Level Fandom fashion. The retailer is the clear leader in fandom retail, an area that too many have historically ignored, with a “Pop Culture” section that allows shoppers to browse clothing created for major fandoms like Harry PotterSupernaturalDr. Who, and Adventure Time. Their products reflect the rise of fandoms' importance in youth culture. Marketplace reports: “Chokers, black rubber bracelets, black band t-shirts and studs were [Hot Topic’s] specialty. However, as the niche market for alternatively-inclined teens changed, Hot Topic needed to rebrand itself to keep up. It still sells band t-shirts, but it is noticeably less-goth and more fandom-centric.” Hot Topic has become a fandom haven, and one of the only major retailers that provides a full range of fan-related clothing. 

When we look at the ranking of unique clothing style retailers by age group, we see that their approach has worked across several groups:

Hot Topic tops the ranking among 13-17-year-olds as well as 25-36-year-olds—only falling to third place among 18-24-year-olds, who are more likely to say that Supreme provides the most unique looks, followed by Nike. There are some other slight differences between groups here: 13-17-year-olds are more likely than others to say that PINK offers unique styles, 18-24-year-olds are more likely than others to say that Uniqlo does, and Fashion Nova makes the top ten ranking among 25-36-year-olds. 

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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “A lot of people stay in jobs they hate. They feel stuck or need the money. I refuse to do this. I just gave up a Nursing career to be a CSR and I have never been happier.”—Female, 27, IN

YouTube is cracking down on creators that participate in dangerous viral challenges. The media giant updated their community guidelines to take a stronger stance against stunts that spin out of control—like the Tide Pod Challenge. Any creator that performs “pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger” will earn a strike—three and they’re out. What could constitute a strike? Just ask Jake Paul, who recently drove blindfolded for the #BirdBoxChallenge. (The Verge)

The inner five-year-old of Millennials everywhere is jumping up and down for Hot Topic’s Polly Pocket collab. In partnership with Mattel, the brand that wins at delivering unique styles is dropping a 17-piece collection of nostalgic merch. (The line looks a lot like another throwback collection we called out last year.) In celebration of the iconic toy’s 30th birthday (feel old yet?), ‘90s kids can cop everything from bags to hats to mini makeup palettes that feature shades like “Made in the 90s.” (Nylon)

YouTubers Life OMG! is like The Sims for a generation of aspiring social media stars. Players can pretend to be a video game streamer, a passionate creative, or another influencer. But the game is just as realistic as the kids who play it, making them do chores and deliver newspapers when they’re off the air. Similarly, most kids seem to know the dream is not a full-time gig; just take it from nine-year-old Oliver, who explains, “Of course I will have a good job as well, not just YouTube." (Vice)

Big brands are swooping in to save young shoppers from 2018’s oat milk shortage. The buzzy beverage has become the environmentally friendly alternative to almond milk for Millennial & Gen Z shoppers seeking dairy-free and vegan options. It became a barista favorite this year, mainly thanks to industry upstart, Oatly, which is opening a new factory to up their production. But they better hurry: big brands like Pepsi Co.’s Quaker Oats, Danone’s Silk, and Califia Farms are all getting in on this grain-based trend. (Bloomberg)

The most old-fashioned form of TV is experiencing a surge: over-the-air. While the Post-TV Gen continue to cut the cord, more are buying physical antennas to tap free networks and watch live events. Nielsen data found that this kind of old-school appointment viewing jumped from 9% of all homes in 2010 to 14% last year. Diving deeper into that 14%, about three in five also subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, and their median age is 36. (Fortune)

Quote of the Day: “I’d rather do a job I'm passionate about for a lower salary than do a high-paying but low-rewarding job.”—Male, 18, MA

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