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For kids’ sake

 | June 1, 2012

When designers downsize, the line between parent and child fashions gets blurred


MOVE over Disney, the kindergarten closet is about to be taken over by the likes of Dolce and Gabbana, Dior and perhaps just about every other designer normally known more for their red-carpet frocks than pint-size prêt-a-porter. In today’s fashion for minors, cashmere trumps corduroys in popularity and trends outweigh price tags.

To say children’s wear is enjoying a renaissance is an understatement. Never has there been so much interest in pint size fashion than the present. Parents, ears to the retail ground, wait in anticipation for the latest designer to launch children’s couture (that will be Oscar de la Renta, Diane von Furstenberg and Versace in June). High-profile designers and celebrities are rushing to cash in on a market that’s expected to be worth US$156.8 billion by 2015.

And the kids in question? Well, they just have to look at Harper Beckham, Suri Cruise and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt—walking advertisements for what’s fashionable—on what to wear next.

From Gucci biker jackets to Lanvin’s billowy sundress, high end kids fashion is expensive, often running to as high as four figures on some pieces.

But proud parents are more than happy to splurge. The generation of “we grew up on hand-me-downs” is now boomer parents who can’t wait to indulge their offspring and have their status-conscious and trend-aware outlook reflected on the papooses. They lap up Versace’s upcoming June petite fashion launch as eagerly as they dismiss Junior wiping her Easter chocolate-covered hands on her pink Dior voile bonbon dress.

If it looks pretty and was on the runway, it’s worth the asking price.

It’s a trend that even defies cultural boundaries. Burberry Children opened to much fanfare in Dubai in 2009, only its fourth store in the world. In China, the one-child policy seems to work fine for the increasingly affluent Chinese parents as they flock to get this season’s Marc Jacob-designed fleece hoodie with button detail from Little Marc at Beijing’s China World Shopping Mall.

It’s easy to dismiss kiddie couture as silly and extravagant. Even child psychologists have joined the argument saying adult-inspired kiddie wear could have “damaging consequences” on the child’s social behaviour.

Yet we all grew up playing dress up. And we certainly turned out okay. So let’s just enjoy the cuteness and adorable quotient of these mini-me range and drool away while it’s okay.


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