Comfort and function play important roles children’s wear no matter the season, but as Fashion Snoops children’s wear editor Ania Sommerauer describes, the category is still driven by imagination, color and kid-friendly iterations of trends pulled from the men’s and women’s markets.
As part of the trend forecasting firm’s “Fear into Fuel” webinar series, Sommerauer outlined the key seasonal narratives that are poised to update Spring/Summer 2021 children’s fashion.
From fairytale prints and retro kitsch, to a global outlook on patterns and fabrics, here’s a look at the trends designers and buyers need to know for next spring.
In Surreality, Fashion Snoops takes children’s wear into a fun and happy story suspended between reality and imagination.
The theme pulls inspiration from multisensory installations that stimulate emotions through colors, materials and details that spark joy, Sommerauer said. This is a new realm, she said, where everything and anything is possible.
It’s a trend story where more is more, including with its color palette. True brights like red and orange are cemented with softer pastel shades. Tactile elements like dimensional pompoms or raised letters are mixed with prints and icons that spark the imagination. Balloon animals and rainbows are a place for designers to reinvent kitsch. Or, Sommerauer said, introduce “food people” like gummy bear and cotton-candy prints with a humanized character.
Printed sets with imaginative prints and bold colors are key for girls. Try oversized tees with matching leggings, or a new silhouette—the skirt-legging hybrid—which she said is a fun way to update a matched set while adding an active element. Add glittery waistbands for a touch of femininity. For dresses, look for classic silhouettes updated with a variety of high-shine metallic materials like stretchy Lurex. Intricate beading or chunky sequins create interactive patterns, while smocking nods to tradition.
The crop top adds an instant cool factor to the girls’ category, this time refreshed with longer lengths and whimsical details that skew towards the ’90s, Sommerauer said. Look for fringe, mesh overlays, 3D pocket details and plastic appliques with floating sequins.
Taking a cue from the women’s category, sheer fabrics add a dreamy vibe to girls’ dress tops through details like tulle ruffles and sheer letter appliques. “There’s a lot of ways to take these trends that are happening in women’s and make them approachable to kids,” Sommerauer said. Decorate tops with mesh bows, or tie-dye tulle to create a sheer spiral.
Shiny accessories like bejeweled, bunny-ear hair ties, beaded bags, and sequin-embellished belts add to the theme’s fun factor.
For boys, Surreality calls for elongated and oversized tops with ’90s-inspired graphics like hologram aliens and smiley faces. Sommerauer noted that this is also an opportunity for designers to play with off-kilter placement for graphics. Tie-dye continues to be a must-have, but there’s a higher level of experimentation. Layering the technique over stripes or minimal logos adds a touch of hipster coolness.
Board shorts transition from the beach to everyday for boys. Worn down to the knee, the bottom is updated with bold tie-dye patterns, neon colors and kitsch patterns like retro-striped teddy bears. The jogger continues to trend for boys, this time, she said, with a tapered fit and retro design elements like rainbow side stripes, color blocking and pleating.
Boys’ accessories like a hologram baseball hat, fluorescent sunglasses and tie-dye socks maintains the theme’s ’90s story.
Novelty soles emerge as a key focal point in kids’ footwear, Sommerauer said. Exaggerated soles, color-blocked soles and shark-tooth soles define boys’ footwear in Surreality. These bottoms are applied to hybrid sandals, sneakers and slides.
For girls, looks for paint-splattered or tie-dye hi-tops with light-up soles, sandals with rainbow-hued outsoles as well as slip-on sneakers with a hologram toe and “party slippers” with 3D toe ornaments filled with sequins.
Hidden Hollow pulls children’s fashion away from the bright colors and retro elements and brings it to a magical realm. Here, fairytales are brought to life, with silhouettes, prints and details combining sweetness with exploration. Think ditsy florals and new versions of camouflage, Sommerauer said.
Naturally, color is pulled from nature. Shades of green ranging from olive and seaweed to sour green are juxtaposed with brighter pinks and orchid, which plays up the romantic aspect of the story.
Prints and graphics show an appreciation for the planet. Sweet illustrations evoke a love for Mother Earth, Sommerauer said. Look for porcupines, rabbits, mushrooms and dandelion prints to gain traction. Meanwhile, drawings of snails speak to the appeal for “slow living.”
Leading the girls’ category is the parasol dress, an overall silhouette that mimics fable fashion. Details like rickrack trim, which was used in the Great Depression to extend the life of clothes, adds a historical element, she said, while gingham and plaid underscore the garment’s traditional roots.
The drawstring tunic shirt—a shirt, tunic and jacket hybrid—brings a utility look to Hidden Hollow. Double-flap pockets and exposed contrast stitching speak to the trend’s exploration narrative, while its slouchy rolled sleeves offer girls a sartorial alternative to layering pieces like track jackets or hoodies.
The shapeless romper is a place for designers to introduce some of the charming floral prints that are key to this trend story. Ruffled hems, smocked bodices and folk embroidery dress up the casual and easy one-piece.
Embroidery is carried into girls’ sneakers. Other key footwear items include the slide sandals raffia insoles, sandals with petal-shaped leather pieces and “soft sneakers” which have a low profile and ultra-thin sole. Accessories like sunglasses with scalloped frames, jewelry decorated with gingham patterns and floral bucket hats add a feminine touch.
For boys, Hidden Hollow takes a more active direction. Basic T-shirts are updated with utility elements like nylon flap pockets, belted shoulders and distressed details that appear to have organically decomposed. This look and feel is carried into cargo bottoms redone with softer cotton constructions and drawstring waists. The shorts and pants are updated with both classic camouflage and mossy camo prints.
Transitional shirt-jackets live here, too. The garment, Sommerauer said, blends details from the activewear space like bungee strings and kangaroo pockets with notions from workwear like exposed stitching and reinforced details. Likewise, the popover top mashes together sporty nylon and classic cotton to create a functional yet comfy layering piece for boys.
Boys’ footwear focuses on active, with Velcro sneakers decorated in mossy prints and suede sneakers adding a pop of color. The denim sandal also makes an appearance as a thin-sole sandal with a chambray upper, leather straps and accent hardware. For accessories, look for green dye-effects on socks and sunglasses, Sommerauer said, and canvas backpacks that have a seemingly hand-painted effect.
Spice Island is Fashion Snoops’ adventure story. Inspired by the busy bustle of a bazaar, the trend story pulls influences from a diverse group of cultures, which Sommerauer said is best represented in prints and details. Here, animal motifs are mixed with African prints, Indian-esque embroidery and mosaic patterns drawn from the Middle East.
The rich color palette of reddish pinks, purple and olive are grounded by a base of tans and browns. These colors come together in prints and graphics with a global flavor. Look for monkeys, tigers, turtles and elephants to add kid appeal to fashion, while Eastern-inspired botanics and references to tea add a new conversation.
In Spice Island, lightweight smocked tops are key for girls. Styles with off-the-shoulder ruffles and peplums add a girlish flair while tied or embroidered straps adds a handcrafted feel. The wide-leg romper is this season’s update to the jumpsuit, Sommerauer said. Try it with a cropped mid-calf hem and antique buttons to enhance the style’s vintage roots.
Long shorts are also emerging as a trend for girls. The bottoms are updated with breezy fabrics like cotton and linen, but details like braided drawstring ties, blanket fringe trim and tassels add a luxury feeling. Tunic dresses offer an effortless approach to dressing, too. This update to the sundress features crochet panels, colorful geometric patterns and global embroidery.
Leather sneakers with overstated espadrille soles, suede desert sandals and suede platform sandals offer girls a variety of takedowns from the women’s market. Girls’ accessories lean toward women’s too, with straw hats, neck scarves and printed fabric belts with minimal hardware among the key items to watch.
For boys, the focus is on apres beach fashion, like the popover top with lightweight fabrications and rolled shorts, which Sommerauer said is a more relaxed version of the Bermuda short. “I love seeing the addition of a patterned linen or braided drawstring,” she said.
Linen overalls are an alternative to denim. The one-piece takes on a more minimal aesthetic with simple string straps and U-shaped pockets. The traditional piece looks fresh with a loose, crinkled and cropped silhouette. Meanwhile, the nomad shirt—a woven shirt with a camp collar or no collar—brings the trend story home through embroidered pocket details, sun-bleached stripes and painted wooden buttons.
For footwear, look for adventure sandals with Velcro and utility closures, slip-ons with horse-bit hardware and suede slides with a thick outsole. Structured hi-tops are a chance for designers to mix materials. Accessories also have an adventure vibe, like woven strap caps with leather hatband, braided belts and weathered canvas messenger bags with utility straps.