Our back-to-school insights: Kids want tie dye, “chillwear” and matching sets

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  • After over a year of teachers, students and parents navigating various hybrid learning environments, fifty-six million kids across the country are preparing to head back to the classroom, for the most part, in real life. We’re hearing from clients that this feels like the biggest “first day back” they can remember, and our data supports this: Fix notes with requests for back-to-school clothes are up 32% from last year (Q3 FY21 v. Q3 FY20).

    We sat down with the General Manager of our Kids business, Carla Feely, to understand what our youngest clients are most excited to wear to school, and whether the cozy quarantine trends are here to stay. The short answer is “yes,” for the most part! Following is what Carla shared.

    The personal feedback from our clients guides every decision we make, from the brand partners we work with, to the graphics we print on tees, and the materials we use. The pandemic has been especially challenging for school-aged kids, and being able to help deliver confidence to them through clothes they feel great in has been a special opportunity for me and the team. 

    As we navigate this new and different kind of school year together, here’s what we’ve learned through both our Stylists and our data about kid’s trends, and how we’re delivering on them:

    Kids are trend-SETing in matching outfits.

    An overwhelming majority (87%) of our Kids clients, from toddler through tween, want coordinated outfits. More than just tops and bottoms that pair well together, we’ve seen a huge increase in kids wanting head-to-toe matching sets. We’ve seen adults are starting to take note of this trend, too, and we’re giving the kiddos credit for its surge in popularity!

    We heard kids loud and clear, and doubled our investment in sets over the past year. Seventy-five percent of our sets are in the “leisure” category; they are all made with super soft, comfy and cozy fabrications, and are versatile enough for kids to wear at school, home, and on play dates, and keep them comfortable all day long.

    Tie dye is not just a pandemic fad. 

    Kids are more excited about tie dye than ever, which is evidenced by the fact that we saw requests for tie dye skyrocket up 192% (Q3 FY21 v. Q3 FY20). As a result, we’ve made tie dye a priority trend for Kids and tripled our assortment of it, incorporating new neutral and tonal shades, as well as dip dye and ombre options. 

    For kids, active is a way of life. 

    We nearly doubled our assortment of “sporty” clothing during the pandemic, and our top 10 most-loved Kids styles are all active brands — including Under Armour, Nike and Adidas. Demand for this active, leisure-wear category is showing no signs of slowing down, either: Kid’s Fix requests for active are up 68% from last year, and requests for joggers up 138% (Q3 FY21 v. Q3 FY20).

    “Chillwear” is the new athleisure. 

    Requests from kids for “soft” (+27%), “comfortable/comfy” (+28%), and “cozy” (+65%) have dramatically increased from last year (Q3 FY21 v. Q3 FY20). Soft fabrics and comfortable styles have led us to expand a category we’re calling “chillwear”. We’ve even launched a new brand, our own exclusive chillwear line, called R+R, with fabrics engineered for softness, that includes the ultimate lounge wear to ultra soft and stretchy denim. 

    Kids are wearing their hearts on their tees. 

    Our Kids clients have always loved graphic tees, and the graphics they are wearing right now are tied to some of the brighter spots of the pandemic, with the most popular tees including text or graphics around positivity and kindness, florals and nature, the outdoors, surfing and sunshine. 

    Footwear is fun, after barefoot classes from home.

    After a year of hiding their feet behind remote-learning screens, kids are ready to wear some fun, bolder footwear styles. From fashion boots with faux fur trim, to sneakers with sequins, hidden wedges, and color blocking, kids are excited to include stylish shoes in their outfits again for a little more pep in their step.

    Kids want diverse, inclusive style options.

    As we mark three years of our Kids business, one of the things I’m most proud of is that our Stylists can style Kids Fixes with clothes and accessories from our entire assortment without being limited by what have historically been tagged as “boys” or “girls” clothes — so that boys who want pink tie dye sets can have them, and girls can have as many long basketball shorts as they’d like. It speaks volumes that Runway, our gender-neutral private label brand, is the second-largest brand in our assortment.

    While we’re excited about the back-to-school trends above, we recognize that the pandemic has been hard on families, and that not every child will be able to head back to school in a new outfit that makes them look and feel their best. To bring joy to more kids this school year, we partnered with Baby2Baby to donate and distribute more than $1 million in clothing so that kids in need can start their school year off with confidence. 

    With this back-to-school trend update, we are also celebrating the third anniversary of Stitch Fix Kids. In three years, we’ve shipped more than 2 million Fixes to Kids sizes 2T-18. You can learn more about our Kids offering (and get a back-to-school Fix) here.

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