Delinquent Debt. How Far Does the Need to be Fashionable Go? Second City Style Fashion Blog

Fountain of 30

May 23, 2007 • Magazine


You know, I was wondering if this was happening. When I think back to my early 20’s I had a major shopping problem addiction. Yet, clothes were a lot less expensive. I have been wondering how twenty-somethings could be affording $600 dresses. Now I know.

According to an expose in today’s WWD, Debt burdens are
influencing young adults’ choices of colleges and careers, where they
live and how they spend money, but it’s not putting a cap on the
group’s purchases of apparel.

adults ages 18 to 24 spent $30.3 billion on clothing in the 12 months
ended March 31 — 9% more they spent a
year earlier, according to The NPD Group.

Keeping Up With the Jones’
wedge is being inserted between the affluent and the middle and working
classes," generation expert Bill Strauss observed of today’s college
students and recent graduates. "The affluents often have no debt burden
and can look to their family for support. The other two groups have
significant levels of debt."

In fact, the median level of
student debt among bachelor degree recipients in 2004 (the most recent
College Board data) was $19,300. About one-quarter of graduates from
private nonprofit colleges and 14% from public,
four-year colleges graduated with loans of $30,000 or more to repay.
"It is almost certain that debt levels have increased since 2003-2004
because neither family incomes nor grant aid has kept pace with
increases in college charges," stated the College Board’s newest
student debt report, part of its "2006 Trends in Higher Education"

Nonetheless, Strauss expects the roughly 30 million Americans ages 18
to 24 to enjoy the time they’ll spend shopping, in part because "it’s
the main street they’ve grown up with and they don’t know anything
else." The younger generation has reached to
fashion to make a statement whether for their career, socially or for

Your a Rich Girl and It’s Gone Too Far
Strong demand for designer apparel is
seen coming from a group Strauss dubbed "trustifarians" — those from
families with annual incomes in the top 5 to 10% of U.S.
households, some of them with actual trust funds and others simply
getting money from their parents on a regular basis.

"I see a lot of ‘live for today,’ extreme spending," trend analyst Kiwa
Iyobe said of college students and recent grads. "Either they have
wealthy parents or are putting it on their credit cards. "We live in a society where everything
is branded — your college, your job, your fame. All these things say
something about you," she said. The impact of prestigious credentials
implied by a college’s name is akin to the effects engendered by a
must-have status bag: It breeds status anxiety, the trend analyst

Interesting Statistics

  • 18- to 24-year-olds spent $30.3 billion on clothing in the year ending
    March 31, a 9 percent increase from a year earlier, according to The
    NPD Group.
  • About 25 percent of graduates of private nonprofit
    colleges and 14 percent of those from public, four-year schools
    graduate with loans of $30,000 or more in 2004, according to the latest
    College Board data.
  • About half of 16- to 24-year-olds said
    they typically plan their apparel purchases in January, February or
    March, found Cotton Inc.’s Lifestyle Monitor.
  • Cotton Inc.
    found that, in their shopping preferences, 57 percent favored clothes,
    17 percent shoes and 10 percent home electronics.
  • The median salary for 15- to 24-year-olds in 2005 was $28,770, said the Census Bureau.
  • A third of college undergraduates had credit card debt of $2,000 or more in 2004, according to Nellie Mae.

Read more of "Apparel Spending Up Among Young Adults. So Is Debt" by  Valerie Seckler

Facebook Comments

One Response to Delinquent Debt. How Far Does the Need to be Fashionable Go? Second City Style Fashion Blog

  1. I’m not surprised. High school offered a healthy dose of pressure to dress a certain way. And although I’m grateful that I only had to contend with brands such as The Limited, Guess? and Gasoline, the pressure was there nonetheless. I solved my issue by getting a job at the Limited (40% discount and first dibs at stylish gear).
    But the internet has changed everything. We all have access to Catherine Malandrino and Balenciaga. eBay has revolutionized commerce…but you can’t tell me it’s easy to see your peers in Jimmy Choo and keep rocking your Forever 21 jumpers for long. And today, those who can’t afford it still end up buying it. even if that means paying 22% interest on a dress purchased on sale.
    Let’s just say I’m happy I’m not 17 anymore!

Leave a Reply