Luckily, thanks to area businesses, students in Walker County will be returning to classes in this year’s latest fashion trends. A number of local retailers have revealed their newest batches of merchandise to the public and they are tickled not only pink, but also turquoise, neon and camouflage.
According to managers and employees at Belk, Goody’s and J.C. Penney, the most popular items selling this fall are boots, camo, denim and athletic wear.
“Boots are a big trend for fall: riding boots, short-top boots and Western boots, as well as flats,” said Jennifer Venegas, a sales team manager at Belk. “Jessica Simpson, Rampage boots, we’ve sold a lot of those.”
Chad Hurst, a store manager for Goody’s, said, “Rampage, it’s pretty huge because they go from your casual sandal all the way up to dress (shoes) and the boot. They sell very well.” Hurst also said Bobs, a brand made by Skechers, are trendy among younger girls, and athletic shoes, like Nike and Reebok, are most popular with the boys.
Boots and bling are two things owner Cathy Alexander of Cowboy Way knows about. Walking into her business one will quickly notice the large display of Western wear boots complimented with boot bracelets.
“For girls it’s the bling, bling jeans with stones and fancy bling on the pockets,” Alexander said. “The boys just love the t-shirts and jeans. The brands that we sell are Wrangler, Rock 47, Retro, Carhart … We have a lot of Carhart.”
Denim is another article of clothing that is flying off store shelves and clothes racks.
During the sales tax weekend held earlier this month, J.C. Penney store leader Eric Calhoune said denim was one of the key pieces of merchandise his store was selling.
“In all areas, may it be girls, boys and even in kids is denim, basic denim. The brands that we carry, of course, for juniors, is Arizona skinny jeans,” Calhoune said. “They’re still high fashion. Colored denim has come back as well.”
Samantha Moore, a visual merchandiser at Belk, and Sherry Glenn, operations team manager, said distressed denims are back by popular demand this year at their store. They also said striped t-shirts, statement t-shirts and camouflage are making a splash with teens.
“One of the statements we have right now is ‘Anything Olive,’ it’s considered camo. Camo is real big right now,” Moore said. “A lot of the statement tees, anything with a statement on it. We have a lot with skulls and crosses.”
“Active wear in kids is popular,” Glenn added. “That was all day Saturday for the buy back-to-school weekend.”
College students either starting the year as freshmen or returning to campus for the fall semester will have a blast cheering for their teams in collegiate gear found at surrounding stores like Bernard’s Store for Men, Victoria’s Boutique and Monogram Fever in Curry.
“We’ve had a better year with sportswear this year than last year. It’s mostly due to the popularity of our new Southern lines,” said Rusty Richardson, owner of Bernard’s Store for Men in downtown Jasper. “Some of our brands are Southern Tide, Southern Point, Southern Marsh, Polo, Patagonia, Cutter & Buck, Columbia Sports Wear and, of course, our collegiate line of merchandise.”
“We’re gearing up with collegiate wear: Alabama and Auburn,” said Victoria’s Boutique owner Gwinna Boyd. “We have the chevron prints, new sandals, Tom-look-alike shoes, and the initial jewelry is real popular.”
Not only is collegiate wear selling at Monogram Fever with Alabama and Auburn jewelry and t-shirts, but owner Deb Tuggle has a line of collegiate grill wear also. She also says that personalizing items is a major factor with students going back to school.
As far as monogramming goes, Tuggle says she is working on “a lot of backpacks and lunch boxes.”
“T-shirts, baby items, quilts, bibs, burpees, throws, beach towels, most of the items I carry can be monogrammed. It’s just whatever the need is,” Tuggle continued. “I carry a line of items for children through Stephen Joseph, and they can all be monogrammed. … Personalization is huge.”
The fashion experts in the county agree that the colors for this fall will include reds (metallics and burgundies), olive colors, jewel tones, purples and neons. Prints are making a fashion statement as well, including gingham checks and plaids, polka dots, stripes and animal prints.
And, no Walker County resident who watches the hit TV show “Duck Dynasty” can resist a t-shirt or sweatshirt with statements and pictures from Si, Jase or Phil.
For all the fashionistas who are either ready to walk the runway or the school hallways, area businesses are ready and waiting to help get students off to a great school year.