Gossip Girl, the CW's campy melodrama trailing the lives of Manhattan's privileged private school elite (think Sex and the City for the underage set), is influencing a broad swath of the retail sector beyond just the tastes of its young viewers, says The New York Times.

Despite mediocre ratings, the show "may well be the biggest influence in the youth culture market," one trend spotter for Stylesight tells the Times. Old money signifiers like crested blazers and argyle sweaters are suddenly enjoying mass appeal. And retailers are stocking high boots and knee socks in time for back-to-school shopping.

Gossip Girl pulls an average of only 2.7 million viewers per episode, but the show has still found a rabid fan base in thirty-something culture bloggers. Its preppy fashionista aesthetic is even evident in high-end lines like Marc Jacobs and Ruffian.

Product placement can be traced all the way back to the 40s, but Gossip Girl, which is based on a young adult book series, is the first show conceived as a fashion marketing vehicle—charging fees for brands that appear on the show and linking to featured items directly off of the network's site.

In our start-up issue, out on stands now, Liz Lange advised a New Orleans sweater company called LiaMolly to try to get its clothes on Gossip Girl as way to protect its brand from copy cats. (If consumers are looking for the LiaMolly sweater Serena van der Woodsen, the show's heroine, wore to brunch at the Palace, they'll be less likely to run out and buy a knock-off at Forever 21).

The issue also featured three other promising start-ups: BabyCakes, a 60s-themed NYC vegan bakery, ScanDigital, a company in El Segundo that converts old photos into digital format, and KickStartr, which marries microfinance and the arts. Along with Liz Lange, we had experts like Top Chef's Tom Colicchio, E-Trade's Christos Cotsakos, AOL's Ted Leonsis weigh on the start-ups' business model. Which start-up do you think has the best chance of succeeding?