Fash­ion Busi­ness

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?

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Kidswear’s axis point to a trend-led pro­gres­sion

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.

Most com­fort­able grown-up trends like ar­chi­tec­tural ruf­fles, straight fit trousers, state­ment sleeves, or mini-me blaz­ers work for the kid­die mar­ket. But an anal­y­sis of sev­eral in­flu­encer in­fants’ In­sta­gram posts re­veal that im­age­con­scious mums are not scared of dar­ing trends like hard­ware, faux leather and day­time se­quins ei­ther.

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, min­ime 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 im­age­con­scious 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.

PERFORMANCEWEAR 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.

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