Back to School Teen Shoppers Clamor for Luxury Items Sported by Celebs

An August 1 Associated Press article on back-to-school shopping reported that teens are major players in the $150 billion market for luxury goods.  AP also inadvertently hit on a much bigger issue faced by teens today than finding the latest fashions:  Where do they find quality role models?

Amy Klaris, a branding specialist at the consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates, perfectly pinpointed the problem while defending teens who buy into the hype of luxury items.  She told AP, “There are so many icons out there right now for [teens].  There's more people they're looking up to and wanting to emulate, and they can do that through accessories.”

According to AP, teens are “asking for luxury products, such as $200 designer handbags and $100-plus jeans” due to the proliferation of “Web sites, tabloids and TV shows detailing celebrities and fashion.”  Jaqueline Nasser, Fashion Market Editor at ELLEgirl magazine, stated teens “have been surrounded by celebrities and TV programs where fashion is the central point,” citing Laguna Beach, The O.C., The Hills and My Super Sweet 16 as examples.  

The Culture and Media Institute's latest Special Report, The Media Assault on American Values, reveals that 68 percent of Americans believe the media have a negative impact on moral values in this country.  A look at the shows listed above illustrates the point.  Those shows present an unrealistic standard of living, inducing viewers to think that luxury items are necessities. 

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.