Back-to-school retail: The slouchy backpack is trending

Back to school is a key subcategory that kicks into high gear during the summer, and sees retailers go head to head with sales, promotion and visual merchandising to get consumers spending.

At WGSN Instock we’ve been tracking the latest winners in this sub-category, and the slouchy backpack is the newest front runner, driving back to school deliveries.

“Bags held a stable 18% of new-in accessories in July, with key biweekly drops since May enticing regular spend among juniors. However, the backpack specifically drove deliveries, over its rivals the shoulder and cross-body bag,”  said WGSN’s Instock Editor Jessica Fioriti.

“Heading up back-to-school campaigns, the slouchy backpack took up 20% of the bag mix, up by 4 percentage points YOY eating into the shoulder and cross-body which fell 7 percentage points to 51%.”


Models Alena Blohm & Barbara Di Creddo rocking the simple back to school styling

The current demand for fresh basics and simplicity (in terms of product and styling) is boosting the backpack presence. The slouchy accessory works well, styled with boyfriend and mom jeans, shrunken T-shirts, boyfriend tees or basic sweatshirts with an emphasis on crew-neck styles.

“For a/w 16/17… while structured shapes continue in the minimalist satchel and quilted categories, soft slouchier shapes are more directional, targeted at juniors for new back-to-school purchases,” says the WGSN Footwear & Accessories team. This whole look takes its inspiration from the interesting crossover that we are seeing between fashion and activewear, resulting in a more relaxed aesthetic.

In terms of retailers embracing the trend: “Aeropostale held biggest backpack offer among juniors with a 43% bag new-in mix. Urban Outfitters grew its offer YOY to 40% from 16%, alongside Topshop at 29% vs 13% and Zara with 29% vs 8%,” adds Jessica Fioriti.

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