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From Fiction to Fashion Statement: YA Books Spawn New Fashion Trends

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Teen interest in fashion is at an all-time high, and it's hard to pin down 'what's hot' and 'what's not' from month to month. It's helpful, of course, to look to the usual magazines, and to shows like Project Runway, but that's only scratching the surface. The role models teens look to for their fashion trends are not only found inside glossies, but also in the pages of books!

Go into the Young Adult section of the bookstore and you'll be bombarded by any number of titles centering on the fashion world (Catwalk, Airhead, Violet on the Runway), as well as characters that are notorious fashionistas (Clique, Poseur, and of course It Girl and Gossip Girl). The super-hip authors name-drop brands, describe clothes in painstaking detail, and lo, a trend is born.

This is most obvious with Gossip Girl, a book series that spawned an extremely popular CW show, turning the fashion seen on the pages into fashion seen on the small screen. As the New York Times observed, the show has spawned a huge number of fansites devoted just to the fashion of the show. Devotees watch, take notes, and then retailers watch the sales numbers spike after Serena Van Der Woodsen is shown with a hobo bag.

YA novels influence fashion trends in less overt ways. As The Telegraph's Natasha Cowan notes, in the UK the signature round, wire-frame glasses that Harry Potter wears have been flying off the shelves. Signature items like that have become increasingly popular with the publication of Twilight; Walmart started promoting Twilight jewelry in March of 2009. This is by no means a new trend: hardcore fans of the Lord of the Rings have long been able to order expensive "Rings of Power" from places such as the Skymall catalog. But never before have book-related fashion items been met with such a huge and eager audience! Only the geekiest of kids in high school owned the "one ring to rule them all;" now gaggles of girls crowd around each other in the lunchroom comparing their latest Twilight paraphernalia. Are you Team Edward, or Team Jacob? Get a t-shirt from Hot Topic or Nordstrom, and let the world know! Doubtlessly there will be innumerable such shirts at the premier of New Moon in November.

And with Halloween just around the corner, it's difficult to ignore the most obvious parallel of all: dressing up as a character from your favorite book. How many teens will log onto twilightbeauty.com and pick up a canister of Body Glow to get that vampiric 'dazzling marble skin' look has yet to be seen, but numbers will probably be pretty high. And then, of course, there are the redheaded Anne of Green Gables and Pippi Longstockings, the round-rimmed Harry Potters, the green-and-silver-wearing Slytherins, and innumerable other characters from the well-worn pages of today's YA books.