Making The Grade: Back-To-School Shopping

Cotton Incorporated's Back-to-School Fashion Trend Forecast

Tuesday July 20, 2010
New York, NY

Parents who do their homework on back-to-school shopping will get high marks from their children this fall, who are still looking for fashionable new apparel despite the still tough economy.

Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle MonitorTM survey reveals that 79% of female respondents say they plan to purchase new clothing for their children this fall. Though the economy is in better shape than it was a year ago, consumers are still holding on to value-driven habits: 93% of women said they were somewhat to very likely to purchase fall clothing on sale for their children.

Jenna Caccavo, Product Trend Analyst, Cotton Incorporated, notes that children’s wear trends, especially for back-to-school, are typically distilled or simplified versions of what’s on point for menswear and women’s wear.

“For the 2010-2011 school year, preppy and collegiate looks for boys dominate, with vests layered over cotton t-shirts or button downs,” Caccavo says. “For girls, an edgy Victorian look is on trend, with dusty pastels like lavender and amber amped up with metallic outerwear.”

The following is Cotton Incorporated’s overall back-to-school fashion trend forecast:

Overall color:

  • The key is keeping even the most mature looks age appropriate through a playful use of color.
  • Blues, ranging from bright and stimulating to dusty and dark, are important for boys and girls alike.
  • Different shades of blue combined in one look is also very much on point for this season.
  • Red is electric, with a bit of a fiery coral undertone, and it is a very popular color for all age groups.

We see it used as a vivacious accent color for younger children, and as an all over color for the juniors market, especially as nice update to the colored denim look juniors love.

  • Classic dark grays, and khaki mix with vivid almost electric cool shades of green and teal.
  • Aquatic and moody blues, combined with brighter reds and clear teal, make for a fun retro inspired combination, or can be a nice option for more formal looks.


  • Skin tones paired with red coral and bright blue and green
  • Amber and rust, classic yet upbeat fall winter colors
  • Light grayed blues, dusty lavender and mauve

Fabrics and Styling:



  • Dip-dye and Ombre effects in both casual knits, and more formal looks like woven button downs for boys, and skirts and dresses for girls
  • Layered prints
  • Classic felted and high pile fabrics like velvet, corduroy, and flannel remain
  • Glowing effects on denim, bright over dyes on dark denim
  • Gray denim


  • Plaids remain important, and are updated in brighter color ways, and quilted looks for outerwear and layering pieces
  • Preppy, collegiate, sophisticated looks; blazers with contrast piping, vests worn over t-shirts and button downs or both
  • Hidden/covered prints held on the back of the fabric make for unexpected and playful pops when sleeves on shirts, and hem lines of pants get rolled up


  • Chunky and textured knits
  • High shine and metallic outerwear
  • “Dark and moody” prints; for example, black base with a black shiny print
  • Juniors and teens give a fun, almost rocker edge to Victorian-inspired looks
  • Subtle metallic prints, finishes, and yarns in fabric
  • Bleeding and watercolor prints

Cutting Cost With Cotton is one in a series of communications designed to help consumers in trying economic times get the most from their favorite fiber.

Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The Program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.


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