CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – As the last week of Groovy on Grand summer camp draws to a close, back-to-school shopping and the camp's fashion design classes intersect. According to the National Retail Federation, parents with school- and college-age students have about half of their back-to-school shopping lists complete.
Andrea Andrews, co-owner of Groovy on Grand, said the styles created by girls in the camp's fashion show are "very indicative" of trends parents might see in clothing stores. Parents might see "high-low" skirts, which are cut much higher in the front and drape low in the back. Printed leggings, colored skinny jeans and maxi dresses could all be seen on Groovy's runway during the summer's last fashion show.
Most of the campers are between 8 and 13 years old, or about third through eighth grades. Although the camp is coed, it attracts mostly girls, each of whom confirmed that her first-day-of-school outfit was decided between two weeks and two days ahead of time.
"I'm going to have it planned out, like, two days before," said camp counselor Olivia Derbabian, 16, a Croton-Harmon High School student. School starts Sept. 4 in the Croton-Harmon School District and Sept. 5 in Hendrick Hudson Central School District.
The first-day-of-school outfit, said Sarah Van Ells' mother, Paula Van Ells, is "very important. Way out of proportion with what they should be thinking about – academics."
"After the first week they're back to wearing their favorite clothes, as opposed to new clothes," she said.
It may not cross kids' minds when shopping, but 85 percent of parents say the economy is still on their minds when they are back-to-school shopping. According to the National Retail Federation, the average family with school-age children will spend $688 on supplies. Additionally, 39.6 percent of families will buy at least one item online, the most ever.
Some campers, which Andrews says come from as far away as Connecticut, are finding a new appreciation for that special outfit.
"They say, 'Wow, sewing is really hard, no wonder clothes are so expensive.' I hear that daily," said Andrews, co-owner with Lisa Parmeggia. Groovy on Grand recently opened a second location, across the street from its original retail space, specifically for fashion design classes.
"I realized you can actually make some stuff, and make it look legitimate, without looking stupid," said Sarah Van Ells, 13, of Croton.