What teens want: These brands top the list

Long the outcast at the high school lunch table, denim is once again gaining steam among adolescents, a new survey of teenage shoppers has found.

According to Piper Jaffray's biannual Taking Stock With Teens study, denim saw an uptick in interest among upper-income teenage females, rising to 13.8 percent of overall mindshare, or relative public awareness. That compares to 11.6 percent just a year ago.

retail shopping denim jeans
Fabrice Lerouge | Getty Images

It also marks the first fall in which denim has shown a move up since 2010, when roughly 20 percent of upper-income respondents said they preferred that type of apparel.

But a growing interest in denim hasn't come at the expense of fashionable athletic apparel. The athleisure category continued its ascent, also reaching roughly 14 percent mindshare among that subset. The category has been steadily climbing since fall 2009, when only 1.5 percent of upper-income females preferred that apparel category.

Although total spending among both income groups came in at $2,550 — 3 percent above the 11-year average — fashion spending remains 3 percent below the 11-year average, at $1,050. Teens have increasingly been putting their cash toward electronics such as the iPhone.

"Total spending trends reflect declines year over year and from the spring survey levels," according to the report. "That said, fashion spending, among the upper-income set is demonstrating a rebound from the spring survey."

The survey included responses from 9,400 teenagers who had an average age of 16. The 2,700 teens who fell in the upper-income group had an average household income of about $107,000, while the 6,700 teens in the group from average-income households had a mean income of about $52,000.

When it comes to where teens like to shop, time spent in specialty stores increased for the first year since the iPhone launched in 2007. Among upper-income teenagers, specialty stores overtook major chain, department and off-price stores for the first time since spring 2014.

No. 1 preferred clothing brand, fall 2015

Rank: Upper-income
Rank: Average-income
1 Nike 1 Nike
2 Forever 21 2 American Eagle
3 American Eagle 3 Forever 21
4 Ralph Lauren 4 Ralph Lauren
5 Urban Outfitters 5 Hollister
6 PacSun 6 Victoria's Secret
7 Free People 7 PacSun
8 H&M 8 H&M
9 Vineyard Vines 9 Hot Topic
10 Nordstrom 10 Aeropostale
Piper Jaffray