From Abercrombie to Lululemon, 4 High School Brands That Are Suddenly Cool Again

The year is 2006—Lauren Conrad has just left Laguna Beach for The Hills, Facebook is now officially “a thing”, and Disney has just introduced us to their adorable, wholesome new starlet Miley Cyrus vis-à-vis Hannah Montana. I’m in grade 11, and my closet is stocked with emblazoned Abercrombie & Fitch hoodies, leggings inscribed with Lululemon’s ubiquitous ‘om’, and Coach bags layered in multi-hued Cs. Logomania is in full effect, and there is nothing my high school self craves more than the validation of the highly lauded, “expensive” brands I saw girls older than me toting around the mall and into the shiny, cute cars they drove in to school every morning. (Did I also mention I grew up in the suburb where Mean Girls was filmed? Basic is practically in my blood.)

Fast-forward 10 years and the fashion landscape is as different as it is kind of the same: designer collaborations still have us losing our collective shit (except now they are inspiring #WangSquads and #BalmainArmies), fast fashion is, well, faster than ever, and those pesky fashion bloggers? They’ve morphed into Instagram “influencers”. Most of the industry has transitioned to the next logical level, however, the stigma surrounding my cherished brands of yore has not shifted. Abercrombie hoodies are relegated to cottage weekends and Lululemons are strictly confined to the gym.

Old habits die hard though, and as I was passing an A&F store some weeks ago, nostalgically drawn to the quixotic Fierce fragrance emanating from its slatted faux shutters, I decided “Oh, what the hell?” and went inside. I emerged nearly an hour later with a bag full of clothing, and the feeling that I had regressed in my fashion sensibility. But they had so many good things—and it was all so cheap! Soft, slouchy sweaters (bereft of any branding), an oversized jean jacket, athletically-cut skater dresses (one of them even in black!). It wasn’t just me—Abercrombie had grown up into a store replete with classic, everyday basics in the vein of J.Crew, but so much more affordable.

My suspicion that something was afoot was confirmed when I commented on a friend’s super-slim tan Chelsea boots on a night out, and she replied “Old Navy.” Lululemon just announced that they would be expanding the “Lab” section of their label, opening its first American store in NYC (the original launched in Vancouver). Claiming to offer chic designs for outside of the gym, their swing coats are legit lust-worthy. And what about that most-prized status symbol of the early aughts, Coach? Today, fashion fanatics can’t get their hot little paws on it fast enough. Yes, the bags have done a total 180, but remember that American flag sweater from last fall that was literally everywhere? Or what about spring’s patchwork mod jacket? Be still, my beating heart.

So, in the immortal words of Regina George: “Get in loser, we’re going shopping.” Here, a guide to the hottest pieces currently available from our favourite high school brands.

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