Fashion, a term that was meant to bring your sense of self expression out of obscurity into flamboyance, has evolved to an incomprehensible magnitude with different strata of society adapting to trends in their own distinct capacity. As standard of living in developing nations is reaching to come at par with the developed markets, parents are showering their children with unmatched attention. The number of children that middle and upper class parents prefer is decreasing, while their mean age to have kids in urban societies is increasing, giving rise to a striking opportunity.
Kidswear, a domain that was not established as a lucrative mainstream market earlier, has now boomed to a stature that has left even the most prominent of brands vying to get a piece of it. The global childrenswear market was a whopping US $ 203.4 billion in 2017, according to Statista. As reported in a previous article, even India is a hub for the flourishing market with kidswear expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.1 per cent surpassing menswear and womenswear categories, which are slated to see a CAGR of 7.5 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively, according to Technopak.
This has had every luxury or couture fashion house in the world leap at the opportunity to dress the most influential celebrity kids or elite progeny in garments that can leave the fashion of adults far behind. With better exposure and greater access to information, parents today choose their kids’ clothing far more carefully and therein lies the multi-billion dollar fashion retail opportunity that is kidswear.
Factors driving the star-studded market of luxury kidswear
While practicality is still a concern, greater priority is being given to styles that are replicas of what the adults wear. Fashion in childrenswear is neck to neck with that for adults.
Many considerations go in while choosing clothes for children, therefore making kidswear a fashion retail market where the make is more important than anything. Retailers who understand this and provide accurate information on their portals are finding that parents aren’t averse to shopping online. Of course, easy returns and replacements also come in handy.
Farfetch, a go-to platform for parents looking to get their hands on beautiful high fashion for their kids as well as themselves, saw a quadrupling of brands in childrenswear category from 2016 to 2017 alone.
Luxury brands like Oscar de la Renta and Dolce & Gabbana have long designed childrenswear, but the category is scaling up with launches from labels like Givenchy, Stella McCartney, Burberry and Balenciaga, giving it an extra level of street cred. “Young parents with kids don’t want to sacrifice their own aesthetic choices for the sake of dressing their children,” said Moschino Creative Director, Jeremy Scott, as reported by Business of Fashion.
Stalwarts in the world of luxury like Balmain, Dior Baby, Gucci Children and Fendi Kids have made certain parents to look no beyond their favourite iconic brands to dress their kids up.
Jeremy Scott’s cartoonish graphics for Moschino are found across infant clothes to sweatshirts. Similarly, Gucci’s ‘fake Gucci’ T-shirts for kids sold out at Selfridges within five days, retailing at US $ 112 for kids and at US $ 375 for adults.
Instagram has also played a huge role in the development: toddlers are essentially following trends and the style aesthetic of adults by mixing high end designers like Gucci with street and sportswear labels.
Daughter of streetwear aficianados Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, North West has grown to become a shining beacon of kids’ streetwear, so much so that they launched their own label kids’ supply in May 2017. “Instagram has brought the world’s influencers’ children to the forefront with their own Outfits Of The Day, which are getting hundreds of thousands of likes,” said Nathalie Genty, Founder of Melijoe. “Parents are dressing their kids to be fashionable because it’s a good business to do so with their digital channels. Brands understand people scrutinise the style of kids like North West — placing a dress on Instagram is more profitable than buying an advert in a magazine.”
Childrenswear is a market with huge financial potential as 40 per cent of millennials are parents with a combined global spending power of US $ 1.3 trillion, according to research by the Missouri-based creative agency Barkley US. Asian shoppers top the list of luxury consumers, and by 2025, millennials will represent 45 percent of the total luxury consumption, with Asian consumers accounting for 50 per cent of the share, according to Bain & Co.
Not only are new parents spending more on their children, but as they grow out of clothes quickly, there is a constant demand for new items, resulting in high profitability. For Givenchy’s Fortunato, cashing in on the nostalgia is key to a brand’s long-term survival. “Today’s kids will grow up to be tomorrow’s consumers. For any brand, staying relevant across generations is the goal,” he says.
Emerging designers & labels soaring in the face of high end brands
Designer brands are providing kids with miniature versions of outfits that imitate adults but for some parents, the unique curated collections of independent labels add the necessary touch of finesse and glamour to their kids’ wardrobes. Even though spending thousands of dollars on clothes for kids who will grow out of them in lesser than a season does not seem to be the most prudent, it has not deterred the likes to Beyonce from spending US $ 11,000 on a Mischka Aoki couture frock for their daughter Blue Ivy.
Labels have gone beyond reaching out to only the parents. Children in their teens and pre-teens have become exceedingly internet savvy, making them a viable target for innovative content and designs.
NICKI’s, an online purveyor of fine fashion and design for babies to teenagers, carries a selection of more than 180 designers and emerging independent labels for boys and girls. The exclusive online retailer is headquartered in Munich, Germany and each item purchased is lovingly packaged and dispatched worldwide within one day of purchase, hence exemplifying the appeal of e-commerce in the kidswear market.
A name that rings far and wide when talking about haute couture for children is that of Mischka Aoki. Launched in Australia by designer Winnie Aoki, the gorgeous brand is known for its exclusivity and exceptional craftsmanship. Needless to say, it has caught the eye of the affluent worldwide with their limited edition dresses ranging up to US $ 30,000. Mischka Aoki is the only children’s label which was invited to have a solo runway show in the Perth Fashion Week in Australia.
From Suri Cruise to Kourtney Kardashian, Parisian luxury brand Bonpoint is trusted by the crème de la crème of the society. The fashion house has 110 stores in 29 countries which speak of French elegance, timeless tradition and the highest quality.
Some other names that have found their way onto the fashion scene are Carrement Beau, which draws inspiration from its French roots and produces clothing with typical Parisian elegance and II Gufo, a leading Italian luxury clothing brand for childrenswear, which specialises in designing for children from 0 to 14 years. Molo is a fashion label characterised by a passion for children. Pants, T-shirts, dresses and jackets are designed the way kids like it: loose, airy and casually comfortable, while Monnalisa presents collections that are trend-conscious, unique and cartoon-printed, strongly inspired by the runway style of the major fashion shows in the world.
Stepping stones to a brighter future
World over, brands and designers alike have taken notice of the growing popularity and immense potential of this market.
Younger kids are dressed by their parents, but pre-teens are keenly following latest trends, opening them up as a demographic to retailers. As of 2017, kidswear sales made up 21 per cent of global apparel sales, which was already more than the projected growth at that point by over 3 per cent. With greater disposable income and more desire to tap into trends, this figure can be expected to rise even further.
India is not far behind when it comes to tapping the market. With 29 per cent population belonging to the age groups of 0-14, independent labels, designers and brands are looking to expand in this category. Although the trend for luxury kidswear has not yet made its mark in India, it is a glaring opportunity both in terms of designing as well as the e-commerce space.
This is a window of opportunity too good to pass up, particularly for those retailers ready to take the plunge into experiential retail: the reward is customer loyalty, lifetime value, and most significantly, some very happy parents who make all the buying choices.