This season's teen fashions are a lesson in history.
Today's kids say cargo pants. In the '80s, we called them parachute pants.They say flares. In the '60s, we referred to them as bell bottoms.
They say "retro." We said "deja vu."
In retrospect, we've seen it before.
Even jeans with four-inch cuffs are back.
We recently walked through a few of Salt Lake's retail stores to see if we could view the latest trends through the eyes of today's Pepsi Generation, dubbed GeneratioNext by the cola maker.
Here's what some members ofGeneratioNext had to say:
What price to pay?
What will you purchase and how much will you spend?
"I'd buy two pairs of jeans, a long (straight) skirt, a pair of cargo pants and a couple of short skirts," said a female fashion associate at the South Towne J.C. Penney who attends Alta High School. "And maybe a pair of plaid flares."
She expects to spend $200 to $300, not counting shoes. In addition, she will sew a few things for herself. "It makes a difference if you're paying for your own clothes."
For footwear, she has her eye on shiny, high (20 eyes) boots by Dr. (Doc) Martens that cost $149.95. She envisions wearing them with a short skirt, which will show off the boots at their best.
A girl who will be a junior at Viewmont High said one of her friends has already spent $800 on school clothes. She estimates the average to be lower - $300 to $400.
She purchases her clothes throughout the year, often when they're on sale, rather than just at the beginning of the school year.
A mother we spoke to tips the money scale in the other direction. She usually spends $100 on each child for school clothes. "We don't buy name brands," she said.
Acquiring a school wardrobe is simpler if you're a guy. Jeans, T-shirts and a pair of shoes are the basics, like reading, writing and arithmetic.
Luke Workman will be a senior at Bingham High. He buys clothes when he needs them. "When my jeans get too many holes in them, I buy another pair." He cuts them off just enough to enable the bottom of his pant legs to fray. Workman, who is featured in the photos that accompany this story, showed up for the fashion shoot wearing a pair of Levi's silverTab jeans, a wide, black belt, a white T-shirt and lace-up "Doc" Martens boots that come to just above his ankles.
He wears a corduroy coat in cold weather. A lot of guys don windbreakers when the snow starts flying, he said.
Baggy pants for boys are still on a roll. Wal-Mart is stocking full-length, five-pocket Britannia jeans for boys. They have wide legs and a generous seat and were priced at $17.84.
Three elementary-age boys browsing at the South Towne ZCMI a couple of weeks ago gathered around a rack of JNCO (pronounced jenco) jeans. The young shoppers wore oversize T-shirts and tan pants that hung loosely down to their upper calves. They fingered the colorful, embossed logos near the back right pocket of the JNCO jeans, saying they were "cool."
Speaking of "cool," dark denim is back. So are jeans with cuffs.
Levi's is capitalizing on that trend with its "hard jeans" advertising campaign. They are made from "raw" denim that hasn't undergone the usual softening treatment and they can be worn with a four-inch cuff. The look is reminiscent of James Dean. Ironically, some members of GenerationNext may not know who James Dean was.
Stores are betting this cool look will be hot. Joanna Collaway, a sales associate at the South Towne J.C. Penney, said a lot of people have been asking for it.
Levi's "hard jeans" come in men's, women's, boy's and girl's sizes. For men, the "hard denim" products include Levi's 501s, Levi's 569 large and straight jeans, Levi's all American classic trucker jacket and Levi's denim classic shirt. For women, they include Levi's 501 jeans, Levi's 555 guy's fit jeans, Levi's 517 boot cut jeans, and several styles of jackets and shirts.
The suggested retail for most hard jeans styles is around $40. Expect to dry clean them if you want them to stay rigid.
As far as we know, ZCMI stores will be the first retailers along the Wasatch Front to get Levi's rigid denim products, which will include two models of silverTab jeans.
Levi's rigid denim is darker than its shrink-to-fit unwashed 501 jeans. "The hard denim has a blacker cast. It's what we refer to as midnight indigo," said Cassie Ederer, a spokeswoman for Levi's. "The shrink-to-fit have more of a sheen, more of a gray look."
The "hard jeans" come in two finishes: "standard hard" and "premium rinsed." The latter are washed once, making them softer than the "standard hard." Kids who want to wear cuffs should buy jeans with a longer in-seam.
Cargo pants with big pockets on the side of the legs are "in." They come in various styles including flares (cousins to bell bottoms, just not as wide). The most common colors are khaki, battle fatigue green and denim blue. We saw them in almost every store we visited. Some retailers had a bigger selection for boys than for girls. It's common, however, for girls to buy boy's cargo pants.
Cargo skirts feature big side pockets. They are short (above-the-knee), or long (ankle-length and slim).
T-shirts with logos emblazoned across the front are popular. So are tops with a single, horitonzal stripe across the bodice.
The solid white, tailored shirt is making a comeback.
So are low-rise jeans. They ride low on your hips.
The latest Calvin Klein jeans have stitching on the back pockets, updated versions of his originals.
Belts: Wide belts are cool. Wide belts with double holes are cooler.
Carpenter pants, with their distinctive hammer loop, are not new, but there is perhaps a bigger selection this year than in the past. "We had a lot of questions about carpenter pants last year and this summer. So that's why we have them now," said Tori Withers, a department manager at the Sandy Wal-Mart. Girls' Jordache cargo pants there were marked $18.92.
Name brand jeans that have been popular all along sometimes introduce a new style that takes off like a rocket. Lucky Brand has been around for years. Its Cowgirls Dream version is new - and expensive. Those we picked up at Nordstrom were $74.
Sweater vests, popular last year, are still with us.
And you'll see plenty of overalls in stores. Whether they're "in" or "out" depends on who you talk to. "Overalls are big in girls," said a clerk at one store. "Overalls aren't the thing anymore," said a clerk at another.
The clunkier the better. Platform footwear is big - literally. Some of the platforms we spotted in local stores will have their wearer teetering three inches above the ground. Kids will be floating around, maybe not on Cloud 9, but close.
The term "Doc Martens" is an integral part of a teenager's vocabulary.
And according to Seventeen magazine, Birkenstocks are hanging on. The company's "slides" are featured in the publication's back-to-school issue.
"The Show '98", which features the ZCMI fashion board modeling the latest back-to-school looks, will be Saturday, Aug. 8, at 7:30 p.m., in Kingsbury Hall on the lower campus of the University of Utah. Tickets cost $5 and are available at the credit offices of all ZCMI stores. Proceeds will benefit the Utah Federation for Youth.