Back-to-school is officially here, one of the most important seasons for retailers. The National Retail Federation expects American back-to-school spending to match 2021’s record high of $37 billion, with customers searching for options that are wallet-happy, planet-friendly, and trendy. Styles already popular with shoppers include preppy uniforms, elevated activewear, Y2K staples, and ‘90s loose denim fits. Read on to learn how Old Navy, Gap and Athleta are delivering assortments guaranteed to inspire back-to-school fashion confidence.
Old Navy has always been committed to giving customers great style and quality at a price you can’t believe. Through the “Price ON-Lock” initiative that debuted in May, the brand offers style, fit and quality at competitive prices across all categories.
As seen in Old Navy’s recent “Written by the Internet” TV spot, the brand is focused on five key categories heading into back-to-school season: uniforms, performance activewear, long denim, graphics tees and dresses.
“Uniforms are a big one for Old Navy this year,” said Liz Beckhelm, Old Navy Kids Merchandising Team. “We have our classic uniform products like polos and pants, but in addition, we have also launched YOU-uniform this year. These are the uniform alternative styles that kids truly want to wear.”
The YOU-uniform assortment, available online and in stores, includes fashion cardigans for girls and fashion polos for boys, in addition to an expanded bottoms selection.
For boys, Old Navy introduced Stretch Tech, a lightweight and functional fabric, and Dynamic Fleece, a sleek, modern fabric meant to move with you. For girls, the brand continues to focus on the PowerSoft legging, while also adding a new flare leg shape in both PowerSoft and PowerChill fabrics. In the denim category, jeggings for girls and slim jeans for boys continue to be customer favorites.
GapKids welcomes students back to school with floral-print jeans, vintage overdyes, denim shackets, skirtalls, and Sherpa-lined corduroy icon jackets. Catch some of these looks in the brand’s creative campaign, “EVERYONE BELONGS.” The spot reminds us that life is brighter when everyone belongs and has a chance to shine.
Not only is the brand championing inclusivity with its fall collection, but also sustainability through many 100% organically grown cotton items and denim made through Gap’s water-saving Washwell™ program.
“Our denim provides great value to our customers because it’s incredibly versatile for all occasions, well-considered with a sustainability priority, and well-made to be long lasting and passed down and over from one sibling or friend to the next,” shared Crystal Henricksen, Senior Director, Gap Denim Design.
This season, GapKids’ ever-evolving denim assortment meets the trends of the day: ‘90s loose fits, Y2K styles, and a variety of dimensions in wash and denim techniques.
“Loving the flare! Loving the boot! These are making a nice comeback this fall and are incredibly versatile and easy to dress up or down,” said Henricksen. “They are also perfect for anyone ready for the looser fit trend without the full commitment. Very cute and very elevated.”
To mark the first anniversary of their partnership, Simone Biles and Athleta launched their first signature collection of activewear for Athleta Girl. The brand's design teams worked closely with customers, fitting each style on live models to perfect comfort and performance on actual bodies—that way teams could hear directly from the consumer on what they want more of.
In prepping the collection, Athleta’s research and development teams surfaced key trends: girls want easy one-and-done dressing, gender-inclusive silhouettes, versatile pieces that can translate across activities, and super-stretch next-to-skin pieces in soft finishes, gentle support, and body-confident shapes.
The 15-piece collection for girls aged 6-12 is also adorned with inspiring graphics that speak to the campaign’s messaging of well-being and confidence-building.
“The time to ‘wear your emotions on your sleeve’ is now,’” said Ann Tribuno, Senior Designer at Athleta. “Graphics are no longer just an avenue for branding and motifs. They are a way to confidently express yourself and your journey—to be vulnerable, to show strength and optimism. Untraditional placements, retro applications, and a unique mashup of micro and oversized scales bring newness to the art landscape.”
The clothing’s visual language supports Simone’s approach to emotionally complex experiences, while also bolstering an Athleta Girl’s confidence and providing her with a sense of comfort.
And just like Simone, her life is busy between school, extracurriculars and time with family and friends. To stay organized through her whole day, the Limitless Collection—including a backpack, pencil pouch, lunch bag, and overnight bag—provide the perfect assortment, while Athleta Girl uniform essentials take the guess work out of what to wear.
Bravery looks different for each person. “Because we can. Because you can. Because I can.” is the rallying cry for the brand’s corresponding campaign—a perfect illustration of what Athleta and this partnership intend to foster: a community of empowered girls and women.
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