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Childrenswear Rising: Small People Mean Big Business for Brands

Kids aren’t the same play-obsessed individuals wearing anything-goes clothes that the market remembers—now they’re nascent fashionistas that want to choose their own wardrobes.

As Fashionbi’s recent “Kidswear Market Report 2016: How the Global Childrenswear Sector has Evolved and What are the Future Trends” notes, brands that aren’t marketing to tykes and teens are missing out on a major market opportunity.

The global childrenswear market was projected to have reached $156.8 billion by the end of 2015.

“The reason behind the childrenswear market growth can be accounted to factors such as the rapidly increasing birth rate, parents having children later in life and a glut of Baby-Boomer grandparents with more disposable incomes at their fingertips, than ever before,” according to the report.

More than that, even though birth rates are climbing, parents are opting to have at most one to two children, meaning there’s more doting to dole out.

And those loved little ones know what they want.

“Kids are growing up way too fast nowadays. They want to have a full say in what they wear and are aware of their immense appeal on social media—thanks to the parent creating and managing accounts for them,” the report noted. “From Suri Cruise to Prince George, they are all already making a mark on their audience and help the brands earn from their looks. Many online boutiques offering parents-kids identical clothing have also emerged, to satisfy the need of the market. Brands who do realize this potential will go on to add yet another promising business in their portfolios, those who don’t will miss a big opportunity for growth.”

In June, Amazon UK said it saw a 16-fold increase in sales of kids’ Crocs after Prince George was photographed wearing them.

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Luxury brands like Dior Homme and Louis Vuitton have already tapped into the trend of targeting the youth and using Instagram as the vehicle to do it.

In January, Dior Homme artistic director Kris Van Assche posted a photo of fledgling actor Alain Fabien Delon from his personal account for the brand’s new summer season campaign. Louis Vuitton creative director Nicolas Ghesquière used his personal account to share a photo introducing Jaden Smith as the model for the brand’s new SS ‘16 campaign. In the post, he mentioned Smith and the images on his account (which has 2.6 million followers) garnered heaps more likes than the photos on LV’s or Ghesquière’s accounts.

Young fans follow their favorites, getting fashion ideas and inspiration, then reporting back to their parents what they’d like to wear. And in many cases, becoming influencers themselves.

“These little ones are taking the world by storm through their Instagram accounts. They strut and pose and have their pictures taken for the entire world to see. Their fan following is immense,” the report noted. “These kids might not be styling themselves but they sure do know how to work their look.”

Parent-and-me clothing has been a hit too.

Spanish fast-fashion brand Mango started offering a Mini Me collection for moms and daughters in 2013 and followed up with father-and-son sets after seeing the line’s success.

Other brands, like Burberry, Dsquared2, Lanvin, Fendi, Stella McCartney, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Oscar De La Renta, Chloe and Jean Paul Gaultier are making mini sizes of their adult clothing too.

“Today, it is not necessary to create a special collection or a campaign, the brands already resize items from their already existing adult lines into the mini versions for the ‘little’ customers,” according to the report. “Not only the fabrics and the designs are repetitive, but also the cuts.”

Making and marketing for kids shows no signs of stopping and luxury labels are leading the charge. Balmain announced last month that it would launch a kids’ clothing collection with looks that don’t stray far from its adult line—which debuted on none other than Instagram. The collection, with pieces retailing as high as $6,000, is slated to hit stores in June.