Keep Up with the Top Back to School Trends for 2013

This is a photograph of some colorful back to school items, here we see a pink folder, an aqua blue Jansport backpack and some other colorful back to school items for back to school.

Last year, parents with school-age children spent an average of $688 on back to school shopping, while parents of college students spent $900, according to the National Retail Federation. No matter how you did in math class, you know that adds up to a lot of pencils, paper, backpacks and more.

You want to make sure your back to school spending counts, but helping your kid choose their supplies can be a next-to-impossible task: One year they're into pink, the next year, not so much. To help you avoid having to buy (and rebuy) school supplies based on your child's interests, we've asked Riann Hinkel, Trend Forecaster with consumer, design and retail trend consulting firm Sphere Trending, to offer some insights on the latest trends to be hitting school hallways next fall.

What are some of the biggest style trends parents and students can expect to see when doing their back to school shopping?

Digital printing effects are huge right now. It could be anything from full-color photo-realistic printing on paper products to faux textures and images printed directly onto soft cut and sew products to create illusionary effects. We have seen this on notebooks, but now we're even seeing it on backpacks. This is really a cross-trend.

We are really seeing a strong influence from the DIY world with patterns that appear to be hand drawn or hand painted. Anything from graffiti to pen-and-ink illustrations to watercolor effects — and sometimes even a layered combination of all three! Geometrics are also big. I'm sure you have noticed them in the fashion world, and we see this trend moving on to products in structured yet playful variations.

Bold, bright colors are continuing to be popular, both for back to school as well as back to college. Primary colors get bumped up in saturation level, and neons continue to play as a pop of color for younger students. For college students, we see a more complex clashing of colors and unexpected combinations of brights, neons and pastels that somehow work together.

What is interesting is that we tend to see trends that fall into the back to college category one year evolve and trickle down into back to school trends the next year as the younger set tends to draw inspiration and also aspires to be older. And because almost all kids now have the tools at their fingertips to research trends and fashion, we see these evolutions happen faster and more often.

How are students' lives contributing to these style trends?

One thing that is so important to kids is their ability to keep their fingers on the pulse — actually, to even set the pulse — for design and inspiration, rather than be told by their parents what the top trends are. They are more involved with back to school shopping and purchases than ever before, and because they're so design savvy, they usually know exactly what they want before they even set foot in a store.

If parents want their kids to be excited about school and their new gear, what should they look for when buying back to school supplies?

These kids are the smartest generation ever — they get global inspiration 24/7 via social media. Back to school used to mean looking like everyone else. Now it is cool to stand out. They have raised the bar for what excites them, looking for color, design and interactive products that are totally unique.

Surprise details such as school supplies that combine with tech accessories will really wow them. Anything that provides customization to a product really ups the excitement level, as this generation is experiencing such resurgence in crafting and DIY. Products that the end user can personalize and put their mark on are key.

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