The Cool School Crowd: Trio of Celebrities Drives Must-Have B-T-S Items

Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and Lindsay Lohan are the role models for schoolgirls this year, with buying up at the high end and off at mass.

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“If Paris owns it, they want it,” said Fraser Ross, owner of Kitson in Los Angeles. “Really, anything that Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson or Lindsay Lohan have is what girls want.”

The store’s Web site even has tabs shoppers can click on to get “Paris’ bag” or “Lindsay’s bag.”

Welcome to this year’s back-to-school role models (Britney who?). And while some parents may groan at the thought this trio is setting the trends, retailers are hoping most will be dragged to the stores by their daughters to snap up ponchos, preppy schoolgirl skirts, Ugg sportswear and hoodies, blazers and denim and corduroy jeans.

So far, that appears to be happening as hip boutiques from L.A. to New York are seeing sales increases of 20 to 30 percent, although their counterparts among moderate and mass chains are having a more difficult time. The specialty growth comes after stores celebrated a spring season that was the strongest in years, which had many retailers wondering if the boom days of the Nineties were back.

Teens are buying jeans from True Religion, Citizens of Humanity and Joe’s Jeans; outerwear from The North Face, See by Chloé and Montclaire, and tops and knitwear from Juicy, Diane von Furstenberg, Marc by Marc Jacobs and See by Chloé, among other labels, all of which are bound to make them among the best-dressed in their dorm or cafeteria.

“Teens and college-aged kids don’t hold back,” Stefani Greenfield, owner of New York-based Scoop, said of the b-t-s season. “They know that if they don’t buy now, they won’t be able to find it later.”

At the end of August, Greenfield said Scoop was 23 percent ahead of last year. The year before, it was 30 percent ahead. “Business for fall has been amazing.”

According to the National Retail Federation, the amount of spending on clothing and accessories is expected to increase 6.4 percent in 2004 over 2003, compared with a 1.3 percent drop in the total amount of money spent on school supplies. The overall amount of money spent on b-t-s-related items is seen increasing to $482.28 per consumer this year, from $450.76 per consumer in 2003.
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