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Sharp-dressed kids: The new generation of mini fashionistas

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Style-conscious millennial parents see their children as extensions of themselves and pay top dollar to have them look that way. Suveera Sharma reports.

Our own childhood memories are made of sun-kissed noses and dust-stained cheeks, of trousers torn at the knees and mismatched socks. Of looking like a joke, while laughing at one. Back then, we couldn’t care less about our appearances but, of course, times have changed. Kids today are increasingly particular about how they look, and parents want their little people to be big on style.

We live in a world where fashion-forward parents are willing to pay top dollar for the perfect outfit for their young ones, and ‘grandma bait’ is a retail industry term for wildly expensive children’s clothing. Most millennial parents dress their kids in the best that they can afford, and purchasing power is increasing with many couples choosing to have kids later in life. As a result, kidswear is big business, overtaking both womenswear and menswear to become the fastest growing segment in the industry.

Asia is the largest growing market for kids’ fashion, and the industry has been smartly adapting to demands with numerous kids-only brands cropping up both online and on the high street. Many of the big established brands, meanwhile, from Gucci and Stella McCartney to the more affordable Zara and Uniqlo, now operate hugely successful children’s labels.

Form versus function

Nowadays, the trends doing the rounds in the adultswear section often translate into kidswear. The ‘mini-me’ craze where mums and dads dress their kids as miniature versions of themselves is going from strength to strength, and the hippest kids now dress down in street or gymwear, again mirroring their parents. Unisex clothing is another popular trend which promotes casual comfort, and gets away from the ‘pink for girls, blue for boys’ gender stereotype.

DB resident Ainara Ipinazar is a kidswear designer and manufacturer, who has worked in the garment industry for 15 years. She is also a mother, to Nerea, 7, and Inaki, 3. Ainara sells her effortlessly chic Boometi designs, for kids aged 0 to 12, through her website and in select stores from Spain to Singapore. Asked what most parents want from kids clothing, Ainara says they like pieces that are both stylish and comfortable. “Natural, good quality fabrics are preferred.

“We as a company do not believe in trends,” Ainara adds. “We believe in comfort, in quality and in designs that give the kids freedom to play and run around. So, we follow trends to a limit; more in terms of colour and season rather than design. Fabric choices and trimmings, and fit and ease play a big role.”

So what are Ainara’s bestsellers? “For girls, dresses sell the most. Parents want to dress their little girls up in cute frocks that are practical and comfortable. Boys often go for colour-coordinated pieces that are fashionable yet rational.”

Proving Ainara’s point, Bryonie Guthrie, DB mother of Nieve, 3, says, “My daughter prefers dresses. I make sure they are sensible and Bryonie Guthrie with her daughter Nieve wearable, considering her age. I go for shorter dresses that are easy to move around in, easy to take off and wear. Instead of monotones, I prefer to buy bright, cheerful colours for her, and that keeps us both happy.”

Like many mums, Bryonie finds that her daughter is very opinionated about her clothes even at this age. “Nieve went from not caring about what she wore to ‘princess mode’ suddenly over a couple of weeks. Given a chance, she would dress like a princess every day, in different shades of pink and rainbow.”

Mini fashionistas

While few of us dress our kids based on what celebrity parents are choosing, the Burberry- and Dolce & Gabbana-clad kids, with their pictures splashed all over Instagram, commanding millions of likes, are hard to ignore. When every social event gets reduced to ‘who wore what,’ it is not long before kids, celebrity or not, get dragged into the circus, and clothes become a status and social statement.

It’s worth looking briefly at the ‘insane’ amounts celebrities spend on their kids’ clothing. Kim Kardashian and Beyonce champion the ‘designer clothes for kids’ trend, forking out as much as HK$20,000 on a Dolce & Gabbana dress… for their tiny tots. Blue Ivy – the daughter of Beyonce and Jay Z – is the most copied child celebrity in Hollywood, frequently photographed wearing clothes that even grown-ups covet.

Back in the real world, most of us wouldn’t hesitate to spend HK$150 on a kid’s dress from Zara, HK$450 at Boometi, or even HK$1,500 on a special occasion dress from a popular ‘mid-range’ UK designer like Rachel Riley. Afterall, it’s fun to dress kids up and make them look super cute, and it’s good to encourage them to take pride in their appearance from an early age.

Regardless of dollars spent, parents love to see their children in outfits that reflect their own personal sense of style, though many balk at turning them into tiny fashionistas. “It is perhaps not right to adopt ‘the latest trend’ or the new celebrity fad. Every child is different and has different habits and needs,” Bryonie says.

“We do not want to create mini adults, and go against the nature of childhood,” Ainara adds. “Fashion and trends should be followed, but not blindly.” This is true. Our children grow up too fast anyway, why give them a push from our side to fast-forward their journey into adulthood?

Autumn/ Winter Fashion Trends for Kids

1 Denim: From skinny jeans to cropped styles, jeans are versatile and easy to pair with anything. Look out for designs with applique – embroidery or patchwork.

2 Camouflage: Camo is a great print for active boys and girls this autumn/ winter. The look works especially well when it’s worn from top to toe.

3 Country chic: Florals in pastel colours, Liberty-style prints and smocked or collared dresses are bang on trend. As are tweed or tartan trousers with chunky jumpers.

4 Sporty: Encourage kids to be active and look good at the same time with a pair of cute joggers, trainers and sweaters – just like the big sports stars wear.

5 Retro: Classic patterned fabrics are back in fashion. Go for boldly coloured pieces featuring stars, polka dots or stripes.


• Boometi, www.boometi.com

Photos by Baljit Gidwani – www.evoqueportraits.com

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