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. 

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?

The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “I think we’re already seeing alcohol lose its health halo. Next, the assumption that alcohol is essential to a good, sophisticated life will fade.”—Joy Manning, Deputy Editor, Edible Communities (Medium)

“The doofus dad” TV stereotype is being remade for role-resisting Millennial parents. Inept at care-taking and almost everything else, the tired stereotype is saying its last “D’Oh!” as The Simpson’s Homer Simpson and Peppa Pig’s Daddy Pig get replaced with a new wave of capable fathers like Bluey’s Bandit. The switch could have a real impact on the way kids understand family life, with one research fellow explaining, “The media reflects reality and also constructs reality.” (SMH)

Apple's new subscription gaming service Arcade will cannibalize its own App Store downloads—and that’s a good thing. Downloads in the App Store are on the decline, despite mobile gaming maintaining popularity and raking in revenue. If Apple can turn Arcade into young gamers’ go-to for mobile play, they’ll be poised for success that could outstrip even Apple TV and Apple Music. (The Motley Fool)

Gen Z music artists are “post-genre.” Mixing several influences into one song has become a way for rising artists to set themselves apart, and thanks to self-upload services like SoundCloud, they don’t need music industry exec’s approval. Meanwhile, the Genreless Generation can curate blended playlists via Spotify to fit moods and occasions rather than “rock” or “pop” and are streaming has also globalized their content consumption, so U.S. genres are no longer a limit. (Vice)

Carl’s Jr. has a CBD-infused burger that costs exactly $4.20. The chain restaurant is giving fast food a Cannabis Infusion, but only at one Denver, Colorado location, and only for one day. The Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight packs 5 mg of the chemical that won’t get you high. CBD is the trendy ingredient du jour, with 57% of 18-36-year-olds telling us they’re interested in trying it, and the chemical has made its way into everything from lotion to La Croix-like beverages. (LAT)

Axe is challenging masculinity with “bathsculinity.” The brand has been blurring gender lines for the Genreless Generation for years now, and their latest series of YouTube spots is showing that men can take baths, too. They’ve enlisted comedian Lil Rel Howery, who takes bubble baths surrounded by candles in the humorous videos. And they couldn’t be more on-trend: bath time is seeing a surge as a salve for Millennial anxiety. (Marketing Dive)

Quote of the Day: “I think for a cohesive strategy and for really helping to build awareness as well as grow the market size for new things, there's definitely digital and social media. But also, there has to be this in-real-life element.”—Alicia Yoon, Founder, Peach & Lily (YPulse)

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies