Small footwear brands are heating up as young Americans head back to school

Back-to-school season is in full swing once again and millions of Americans will flock to online and brick-and-mortar retailers for their footwear and apparel needs. Giants like Nike (NKE) and Adidas (ADDYY) continue to be dominant forces in the industry. However, new trends are proving that there's more than enough room for smaller brands as well.

According to Matt Powell, NPD Group vice president, and senior industry advisor small is the new big when it comes to footwear and apparel.

"I think the younger consumer today is looking for brands that help them express their uniqueness,” Powell said. “Wearing a brand that's worn by everybody is not unique."

These smaller brands continue to outpace the market when it comes to footwear and apparel.

Powell goes on to say that smaller brands like Vans, Fila and Reebok are keeping products fresh.

“It's not over-saturated in the marketplace,” he said. “And I think all of those attributes are what the consumer's looking for today.”

Recent research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch confirms as much. Sales of the Puma RS-X, Van Originals and Fila Disruptor models are trending upwards as "classic" and "retro" fashion styles continue to stay popular with younger shoppers.

A guest wears white FILA sneakers shoes, during London Fashion Week Men's June 2019 on June 08, 2019 in London, England. (Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

The study also tracked consumers’ digital shopping habits. It showed that Vans digital customers skew younger than that of larger brands in the space such as Nike. Vans' most popular digital demographic was people ages 13-24 while Nike's most popular digital demographic was people ages 25-34.

Powell sees nothing surprising those figures. He believes it points to a generational shift where the motto is: "I want to be different, just like my friends."

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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