Convenience, comfort, safety and quality might be the cornerstone on which the entire kidswear space thrives, but prints and patterns are the drivers when it comes to sales figures and consumer choices. The massive hold that social media and celebrity influence have on the parents of today is making the kidswear segment one of the fastest growing industries today, with a higher rate of change in the trends as well. In fact, according to Euromonitor, the global childrenswear market ‘is outpacing both womenswear and menswear, growing 5 per cent to US $ 203.4 billion (as in 2017).”
Confirming the above, as per MarketResearch.com, the performance of the market is forecast to accelerate, with an anticipated CAGR of 5.6 per cent for the five-year period 2014 to 2019, which is expected to drive the market to a value of US $ 300.7 billion by the end of 2019. “When both big and small popular brands began launching childrenswear lines in the 2000s, they didn’t think it would be big business,” said Giuliana Parabiago, a Consultant at Pitti Bimbo, one of the biggest international kidswear trade shows that dictates the trends for this segment. “They would use past-season styles that would be delayed by six months or a year,” she stated and added, “but now childrenswear and ready-to-wear run at the same speed. This new generation wants to be young and colourful.”
The fact emblematic of the hold prints and patterns enjoy over the kidswear space is that about 54 per cent of children’s apparel are patterned, compared to just 36 per cent for the grown-ups as per Edited.com. The 54 per cent comprise of several traits and variations that are being adopted by luxury houses, high fashion brands and mass retailers alike. The only difference lies in the kind of motifs these market players are aiming for.
Colour blocking and monochrome outfits flooded the runways for adults’ fashion and kidswear was fast enough to catch up. Variations of the same tone are used to make a single ensemble. The motifs are spaced out and big, juxtaposed all over the style. Zara Kids has laid out smart co-ordinated sets in light and dark tones of the same colour scheme for boys and girls, with minimal prints and patterns. Another print in monochrome series is stripes, as mass retailers like Carter’s went for faint stripes in a lighter shade of the shell fabric with blush pink over red, lime green over green.
Rahul Srivastava, Director, RNG Apparels, averred, “Colour blocks and AOP prints are doing the best for us as major international retailers (buyers) are leaning towards these. Buyers for the domestic market are going for colour stories steering away from the usual brights the Indian market requires as pastels are now taking over; it is all dependent on the demographics. All over prints are making a strong comeback with spaced out motifs such as dinosaur prints, cosmic prints with stars and lunar patterns. These colours and prints go well with pearl snap buttons that are slowly replacing the multi-colour snap buttons today; they make the trims stand out.”
Tarun from Naisha Garments chimed in as well, “The single colour trend is one of the top choices for our buyers, especially in classics like yarn dyed checks, which is the product category we cater to. A good instance will be checks and plaids in combos of colours such as orange, ochre and yellow or maroon, rust, brick-head and similar colour family. With kidswear, the biggest bottleneck is the order quantities, which are a little over 1,000 for a single colour tone of one size of a style. This is why more and more bright solids are becoming forerunners, and even if prints are there, the motifs are very small.
Animal and skin prints constituted the megatrend for the season, and kidswear steered the trend away from its conventional standards to meet the demand that kids’ fashion entails. Instead of the overall skin texture print, animal prints were made livelier with animals distributed over the clothes in the form of spaced out AOP. Roberto Cavalli left behind his signature leopard skin pattern in kidswear, transforming the trend to fit multi-coloured bears and other animals in his display for Fall 2019.
R. B. Mishra, Director, Ashi Exports shared another motif that is faring well for kids bottomwear. He briefed, “For boys, dino and dog prints are doing extremely well while for the girls the preference lies with small birds and butterflies. Quirkier prints like paw impressions, animal’s animate faces are also popular when placed in the form of small size motifs over the shorts and bermudas. These prints are done in single shade colour story, as several tones of one hue are used: navy blue with turquoise blue, beige with khakis and deeper red with bright red.”
The trend is also infiltrating the homewear industry for kids. Ankit Maskara, Head of Operations of the Mumbai-based retailer Masilo shed light over how they are incorporating this trend for their products by stating, “We are known for our excellence in cotton baby blankets, quilts, crib bedding, cushions and other furnishing items, all constructed using GOTS certified organic cotton fabric – because it’s better for your baby and the environment. Our prints are very vivid and bright, and for this season, animal motifs did well for us. Flamingos, Elephants, Pandas, Hot Dogs were the top picks, while for the next season, we are leaning towards sheep, cows or fantasy animals such as Unicorns.”
The affinity of kids towards the broadcast media characters makes character-inspired designs and graphics one of the biggest marketplace hot-sellers. Recently, apparel brands have come into licensing agreement with major-league media houses to use some of their famous cartoon characters in their collections. Childrenswear retailer Weekender came into agreement with Warner Bros to launch a line with characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse as well as Tom and Jerry in the children’s apparel line, while Ludhiana-based Octave apparels is all set to release its Marvel-licensed merchandise.
Aahan Bhasin of JG Apparels also corroborated that these character-inspired motifs, either in prints or achieved through embroidery or sequins, are performing well with major retailers. “We excel in embroidery or a mixture of embroidery, embellishments and prints for the young girls. Character prints are the top-sellers, with Harry Potter, Disney and Marvel being the most popular. These prints can be placed alongside All Over Prints of similar character focus, like The Little Mermaid graphic with little shells covering the entire garment, or a Jerry mouse with cheese pattern all over. On the embroidery side, we also include slogans and catchphrases of these popular kids’ characters using embellishments, sequins and beadings for tops and T-shirts. It depends on what the theatres are showing, what the kids are watching. Toy Story is going to come to the theatres, so phrases like ‘To Infinity & Beyond’ will be visible or the symbols of Marvel Heroes which will correspond to the release of the movie. It’s all about what kids are looking for.”
Be it knits and wovens, the character prints are becoming the buyer’s first choice everywhere. Amrutesh Jaghuva the Executive Director of Quality Knit Wears Private Limited validates the same stating, “We are dealing with knitted readymade garments to European countries like Germany and Italy for the past 25 years and our buyers are investing in character motifs like Disney, Marvel, DC Comics in a big way. Be it any kind of print technique, from Glitter, Flock to High Density, Puffy, it is these characters which top the list always. Buyers are very much into using colours abundantly nowadays and so digital print graphics are in demand as well.”
The retail bigwigs swear by the trend as well, as Anshu Grover Bhogra, Head of Buying at Mothercare India chimed in, “Brighter colours for both boys and girls are doing great. There is a lot of shift towards character products – Mickey, Minnie, Peppa Pig, Iron Man, Batman etc., are performing great for us. These are placed with stripes and checks, maybe in the centre, left panel, or near the pocket and kids as well as the parents respond well to them.”
Dainty florals in moodier tones and quirky food items such as strawberries, pizza, peaches and lemons are also gaining momentum in the market. Trends such as conversational and wordy patterns are gradually taking a more narcissist form with the logomania hitting the kidswear game. Think bigger than a simple GAP kids or Aeropostale logo, as luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Stella McCartney and Gucci are hyping their kidswear offering using signatory brand motifs and their own logos, either embroidered, embellished or simply patched on.
All these prints are going well with the stakeholders in the kidswear space, especially in colour tones that are earthy, yet bright. The population is leaning towards subtler versions of the brilliant tones that were ruling the previous seasons. Linda McLean from Smudgetikka had similar observations while attending the 88th Pitti Bimbo trade show for kids as she asserted, “One of the most striking shades is yellow ochre which has replaced the cleaner lighter yellow of the spring collections. Navy, red and white are also safe and popular colour combinations.” Earthy tones such as mud brown, maroon, deeper reds, mustard etc., are dictating the colour schemes for boys, while deep indigo, dark fuchsia, greyish blue are the girls’ top picks for the coming season.
The shift in the age group of parents today, who are now older, coupled with economic growth of the middle class and easy access to the global market, has given immense spending power to these parents. This is driving the kidswear market to tap the buzzwords such as fast fashion and sustainability, while keeping safety and quality at the apex. This rapid rate of change in trends entails characteristics of the garments that can be easily manipulated, and thus, dynamic prints and patterns are the way to go!