The fashion scene for the young shoppers has been on a constant roll for over a decade. What is behind the wheel of this unstoppable rise? How will the market sustain this rate of growth?
In Euromonitor International’s New Apparel and Footwear Research Category Overview 2017, it was mentioned that owing to the rise of the middle-class in emerging markets and the phasing out of China’s ‘one-child policy’ in 2016 – the per capita expenditure on children’s clothing has skyrocketed. The report further mentioned that the category’s growth is charting a transition from ‘soft dressing to trend-led products, as fashion plays a bigger role in the buying process, and the frequency at which clothing is purchased continues to rise’.
All of this bodes exceptional good news for the Indian export market, which has always enjoyed a strong foothold in this segment. Moreover, thanks to everyone joining social media and having access to the internet from an early age, the kid fashion shopper is now more aware of trends than ever. The segment has its own influencers on with followers counting in the double digit thousands.
In the high-street market, which is dominated by kid’s lines from Uniqlo, H&M, Nike etc. the retailers are churning out copycat versions of styles worn by adults, effectually homogenising the trend landscape. At the other end of the spectrum are heft price tag luxury brands like Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Stella McCartney for which shoppers are mostly people with small, late settled families, owing to which the aspirational value of fashion clothing is very great.
Blogger moms helping kidswear explosion
Adding to all of this growth, is the recent ‘mommy blogger’ boom. All of fashion’s biggest, most successful bloggers including Chiara Ferragani of The Blonde Salad, Leandra Medine of Man Repeller, Korean-American influencer Chriselle Lim, Arielle Charnas of Something Navy, have delivered their offsprings within the last few months.
These first-time mothers do not fit into the typical mould of motherhood and form an important niche for brands, retailers and manufacturers to design and target a market of women and kid shoppers who would otherwise be misrepresented in the earlier set-up. For example, Kylie Jenner, who has 107 million followers on Instagram, recently posted a picture with her daughter, both sporting the new Fendi monogram, hitting two targets with one arrow. Influencers and influential moms are both the ones to watch to understand the future forecast of kid’s fashion.
Mommy and me styles win big
In terms of trends for kid’s apparel, the market points towards silhouettes and value additions that laterally dominate the adult market. Candice Fragis, Buying & Merchandising Director of Farfetch said: “We’ve seen that kidswear has been an add-on to a lot of the purchasing that’s done by both men and women. But what’s trending is less about practicality and more about replicas of what is being sold for adults.”
It is obvious that all adult trends that are wearable enough for kids like architecture ruffles, wide or straight leg trousers, light denim dresses, statement sleeves, mini-me blazers are all ripe trends in kid’s market. Surprisingly, if you look at the social media posts of these influencer infants, even more daring trends like hardware, faux leather and daytime sequins are the go-to choice of image-conscious parents.
Prints and value addition is where India wins
As most of the business of basics has gone to our neighbours in Bangladesh, the business of creating value-added garments is where India’s opportunity lies, even in kidswear.
Rishabh Kankaria of Denon Merchandise that manufactures for Indian retailer Reliance Trends and Max, as well as for US clients like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, said that for the mass market, florals are the strongest print which they are often updating with light embroideries like schiffli which is especially strong right now… Florals are closely followed by nautical prints and miniscule polka dots. There is no set placement trend as the all-over style on colours like fiery reds, soft blues and camellia rose is dominating the market.
Not surprising, the most favourite prints for children are cartoons and emojis. Sanjay Kumar Agarwal of Dhananjai Lifestyles who is a licenced distributor of several cartoon characters like superheroes for boys and Dora for girls, under their brand Eteens, says that the business is ever growing in this domain. “We are the biggest authorized manufacturers of such merchandise in India and keep working on getting more and more characters as the demand keeps growing,” he adds.
Performance wear is super relevant for kids
Comfort is of primitive importance for the youngsters’ market. If a material is scratchy, or itches or irritates the skin in any way at all, it will never work. Similarly for the fit, anything ‘too much’ or ‘too less’ is a no-go and this is where fit genius athleisure comes into play. The grownups’ love for comfortable jeggings and yoga pants transitions effortlessly to the kiddie market.
At the last edition of Pitti Immagine Bimbo, several sections were dedicated to this direction like #Active Lab, Sport Generation and Super Street to create an experiential space for such brands. This proves that, if treaded carefully, the road to success in this market is also pointing in the direction of fabrics that will offer qualities like stain resistance, extra mobility, etc. While streetwear will form the aesthetic, the real trend will be sportswear level functionality.
Save for a few hurdles like highly stringent security regulations and zero tolerance in terms of measurements due to small sizes, it is a relativity safe segment as it is a necessity for parents to buy clothes for their kids rather than being on expenditure.