With the announcement this week the first ever kids fashion week will take place in March, the children’s luxury clothing market is at the forefront of the minds of the fashion elite.
While not a new concept for luxury fashion, this market has grown increasingly, in the past years, with brands such as Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, and Lanvin Paris releasing lines for the younger fashionable set. And introducing the concept of a fashion week tailored to children, shows that the children’s luxury clothing market is poised to grow exponentially.
A Long Established Concept
Creating luxury clothing for children is a concept established long ago by courtiers, first the American Charles James and then the French Christian Dior. In 1957, Mr. James introduced his first line of luxury children’s attire to a captive audience, while Mr. Dior carried on the tradition by showcasing his newly-established Baby Dior line in the late 1960s.
Today’s children’s clothing market is filled with luxury brands, almost all of which are brand extensions like Burberry Children, Lanvin Paris Petite, and Little Marc Jacobs. Very rarely will you see a stand-alone children’s luxury clothing line, with the exception of French brand Bonpoint.
So why is the children’s luxury clothing market experiencing a renaissance now? Besides Burberry, who earned 66 million pounds for its children line in 2011 – 2012, organizations like Luxury Society believe that it is engagement that drives most modern children’s designers. With the unsteady nature of the economy, design houses are looking to further engage their current customers. As said by the CEO of Theory, Andrew Rosen, “It’s all about being more relevant. You want to keep the customers engaged in your brand.”
Adult Clothing for Kids
In this market as it stands today, there is a division of opinion of how children’s clothing should be designed. Many designers feel that children’s luxury clothing should designed to take into account their comfort and body proportions. Oscar de la Renta himself has said to the Associated Press (http://www.mercurynews.com/fashion-style/ci_21296197/oscar-de-la-rentas-strategy-childrens-wear) that he waited to release his children’s collection until he found a collaborator that agreed that children’s clothing should be appropriate.
On the other hand, Lanvin Paris creates their children’s clothing as miniature versions of their adult collection, as described in an article by The New York Times.
This argument brewing among children’s fashion designers brings the question as to how to involve children in luxury fashion as consumers without exploiting their young sensibilities. The American Psychological Association says that children are highly susceptible to media images and often take what they see as truthful. Perhaps advertising should be targeted to parents who buy the clothes, rather than the children who wear them.
A First of Its Kind
As reported by Vogue UK, the Global Kids’ Fashion Week, organized by AlexandAlexa, will be held from March 19th – 20th, in London. Established luxury brands sold at AlexandAlexa, such as Jean Paul Gautier Junior and Little Marc Jacobs, will be featured in the two-day event. Organizers have announced that two fashion seasons will be showcased at this Fashion Week, with Spring/Summer 2013 pieces shown to the public and Fall/Winter 2013 trends shown to the press.
And, while fashion will be the main focus of this first fashion week of its kind, AlexandAlexa will also be planning several children’s activities throughout the event, in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood.
Clearly the question still remains as to whether giving children access to luxury fashion at such a tender age is helpful or harmful. Does it hamper their emotional growth and ability to interact with other children or does it simply make them happy? What can be concluded for certain is that the children’s luxury clothing market is booming and will continue to do so as more and more designers enter the market, creating even more refined clothing for young, fashion-conscious clientele as the seasons go by.