Marty Hamamoto wouldn’t have dreamed of shopping for clothes with her mother when she was younger. Her own daughter actually looks forward to it.
Hamamoto, 54, hits Manhattan stores with 25-year-old Mia every two months. Last time, Marty dropped about $200 on her daughter’s wardrobe.
“Sometimes she pays for things,” Mia says. “On my teacher’s salary I can’t splurge as much as when I am with her. And my mom is advising me: whether or not it looks good, is too tight, what shoes to wear with it, if I will actually end up wearing it.”
Boomer mothers are shopping with millennial daughters, in a way they never did with their own moms, partly to befriend their children and partly to look younger for longer. Fashion industry leaders such as Michael Kors and Kate Spade are seizing the opportunity to multiply sales by layering in more youthful styles.
“I know mothers and daughters who fight over clothes in a way that only sisters used to,” the designer Kors says.
As many as 9 percent of adult women said they shopped with daughters who are in their 20s, America’s Research Group telephone surveys of female respondents in the past year have showed. That figure stood at 3 percent in 2007, before the recession, said Britt Beemer, the researcher’s chairman.
Mother-daughter shopping “totally” drives additional sales, says Jennifer Black, founder of the Jennifer Black & Associates retail stocks research firm in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The mother is more inclined to spend on her daughter because she’s with her, and the daughter wants to help her mother look “trend-right,” she said.
Women also are more likely to be shopping buddies when they live together, said Candace Corlett, president of New York consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail. About a quarter of Americans between ages 18 and 30 lived with parents in 2012, a proportion that grew in the previous five years, according to Census Bureau data. The unemployment rate for the 16 to 24 age group was 16.3 percent in June, compared with 7.6 percent for the entire labor force.
Mothers and daughters also are closer than they once were, said Kors, chief creative officer of Hong Kong-based Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. Younger women, for their part, are now more willing to adopt their mothers’ fashion tastes as well.
“The idea of rebelling -- proving how different you are from your parents -- seems less important today than when I was younger,” Kors, 53, who works from New York, said in an e-mail.
Fashion rules for older women have relaxed. In decades past, moms didn’t wear miniskirts, cropped tees, or even pants, Corlett said.
“There was that expression, ‘Out in her daughter’s clothes,’” she said. “That means she is trying to look like the young thing she is not.”
Kors targets both generations with a range of jet-set inspired products, from cashmere sweaters to studded crossbody bags, in the same store, he said. His Michael Michael Kors line focuses on accessibly priced pieces, such as $125 skinny jeans and $120 wrap dresses, that are a major item for the younger customer and a fun purchase for her mom, he said. His designer collection pieces become investment items while his watches and jewelry are meant to appeal to all, he said.
Kors’s role as a leading proponent of ageless fashion is working with investors, too. The shares have climbed 26 percent this year, outpacing the 23 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Consumer Discretionary Index. Kors closed at a 58 percent premium to the index on a price-to-earnings basis today.
Nordstrom Inc. has become more of a mother-daughter destination after skewing its Savvy contemporary fashion department to less-expensive fast fashion in the first quarter, Black said. The new cheaper Saturday line of Fifth & Pacific Cos.’s Kate Spade brand debuted four months ago and will have a similar enhancing effect, as has the Pink label from L Brands’ Inc.’s Victoria Secret, she said.
Joint shopping, however, isn’t always fun. Tensions can arise when mothers and daughters disagree about what is appropriate wear, said Paco Underhill, a founder of New York-based retail consulting firm Envirosell. Beemer, who works from Charleston, South Carolina, says it can dispirit dependent millennials.
“When you get into your 20s, it’s a bit depressing,” Beemer said. “Some are doing it out of necessity.”
For her part, Kim Anderson, a 24-year-old online magazine editor, thinks it’s “awesome” that her mother Buffie, 62, splurges on her during their monthly New York shopping trips. Buffie says she doesn’t mind footing the bill -- about $300 for their most recent outing.
“I love to see her happy and able to have these nice things in her life,” she said, “and we are fortunate enough to be able to provide that.”