Growing market: Designers targeting high-end toddlers

Would you spend $10,000 on a 3-year-old’s summer wardrobe?

Fashion designers have found that many parents are willing to spend big bucks on their little people. Luxury children’s wear is the fastest growing segment of the children’s wear and clothing market.

From the AP via the AJC:

“Top fashion designers are pushing more expensive duds for the increasingly lucrative affluent toddler demographic. This fall, Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, and Marni launched collections for the pint-sized. Luxury stores Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman are expanding their children’s areas to make room for the newcomers, many of them with higher price tags. Late last year, Gucci, which launched a children’s collection two years ago, opened its first children’s store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

Some designer houses like Oscar de la Renta and Marni say they’re careful to keep the clothes appropriate for kids. But there are plenty of miniature versions of the adult looks that raise eyebrows because of their eye-catching prices and sophisticated styles.

American households are expected to spend an average of $688 outfitting their children for school, says the National Retail Federation, and that includes supplies like pencils and notebooks.

That’s most families. Some will spend $795 on Gucci backpacks or $1,090 on leopard print puffy coats from Lanvin.

Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director at Us Weekly, admits that some of the clothes are outrageously prices. But, she says, things like $200 Gucci sneakers make her kids happy.

“They’re a walking billboard of you. They’re a reflection of who you are, so if you are someone highly stylized, then you want to make sure your kids are the best-dressed kids out there,” she says.

Critics say the trend promotes elitism.

“This creates a class system of the haves and have nots,” says Dr. Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. “It creates a culture of envy.”

Only five years ago, the high-end children’s wear business was dominated by just a few major designers like Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Christian Dior. But the recent influx of others is the latest sign that affluent shoppers have gone back to splurging since the recession. And as the wealthy feel more comfortable about spending again, they increasingly want their kids to reflect themselves.

It’s a “mini-me” phenomenon, says Robert Burke, a New York-based fashion consultant. “It feels good. It’s like one for me and one for you,” he says. The trend isn’t limited to Manhattan or Beverly Hills, but is occurring in other big cities like Boston and Chicago, he says. Sales of designer children’s wear are also strong in resort areas where retirees who tend to dote on their grandkids live, he says.

Luxury children’s sales account for just a fraction, or just over 3 percent, of the $34 billion market, but it’s growing faster than the rest of the children’s wear and clothing market, according to NPD Group Inc., a research firm. For the past 12 months ended in May, children’s wear sales rose 4 percent, with the upscale component up 7 percent, according to NPD’s most recent data. That compares with a 3 percent rise for the overall clothing market.

Designers, seeking more growth, are now looking at children’s wear as another way to deepen their relationship with their customers as well as reach out to new ones.

The designers are targeting household incomes of at least $350,000, says Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst. That’s about seven times the U.S. median household income of $49,445.”

What do you make of this new trend? Is this just a New York/L.A. thing or do you see it happening in Atlanta as well? How much are you spending on your children’s clothes for a season? What is the most you have ever spend on one piece of clothing for your child? What was it? (I think the most I ever spent on one item was Rose’s first communion dress. I think it was over $100 but I am hoping Lilina will wear in the future.)

25 comments Add your comment

Augusta

August 13th, 2012
1:28 pm

“Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director at Us Weekly, admits that some of the clothes are outrageously prices. But, she says, things like $200 Gucci sneakers make her kids happy.”

$200 will feed my family for two weeks, and that makes my kids happy.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 13th, 2012
1:48 pm

cukoo!! I agree!!

K's Mom

August 13th, 2012
1:54 pm

I am the first to admit that I Love cute kids clothes and I coordinate my boys for church, dinners out and photos. I like Kellys Kids, Strasburg, Zucchini, and Polo. All of that being said…clearance sales are my friends and my mom does buy some of their clothing because she likes it too. I doubt I spend more than $200/year on each child and we wear a lot of hand me down shoes from my nephew. $200 for one pair of shoes is absurd.

K's Mom

August 13th, 2012
1:56 pm

I will also add that I like for kids clothes to look like kids clothes. Turning your 2yo into a mini Taylor Swift or Justin Beiber is just weird to me on a lot of levels!

kimmer

August 13th, 2012
2:16 pm

I am definitely not in the market for stuff like this but I suppose spending $200 for gucci sneakers when you make $500K a year is fiscally more responsible than spending $50 for a pair when you make $25K.

Techmom

August 13th, 2012
2:28 pm

Spending that much on toddlers is RIDICULOUS!!! They grow way too quick. Consignment sales/stores are the way to go. I do remember spending nearly $40 on a Gymboree outfit when my son was 3 and even that I thought was crazy. I have to admit though that those pictures are still some of my favorite and he did wear the outfit a bunch and it held up well. My husband’s family is obsessed with putting babies/toddlers in Strasburg outfits. I think if you’re buying one that will be passed down (b/c they are classic smocked outfits), it’s fine but literally one of my husband’s aunts has bought her grand-daughter 5 or 6 dresses and two of them she outgrew before she could even wear them!

Last year was the first time I spent over $100 on a pair of shoes for my son and not b/c I thought they were “cute”. He runs Cross Country and needed a good pair of running shoes. This year we bought him the same shoe (last year’s model) for about half the price online since we knew what worked for him. I spent about $150 on his prom tux this year and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will still fit for his Senior year. If not, I figure I can sell it and whatever I make ensures that I still spent less money than a rental (which run about $150- go figure).

I also tend to spend a bit more money on things that I know are worth spending more money on b/c they won’t fall apart (i.e. a good backpack) but $795 is simply absurd.

Techmom

August 13th, 2012
2:34 pm

TWG – I’m stuck in the filter again

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FCM

August 13th, 2012
3:22 pm

“$200 Gucci sneakers make her kids happy”

At designer prices, my children will just have to be sad.

The one that is getting me right now is the shoes and clothes for the oldest one. She is in adult sizes 0-3 (clothes) and size 7.5 ladies shoes. Her shoes cost the same as mine but she outgrows them! (And I only shop the outlets, Rackroom, or Marshall’s etc for shoes).

JMS

August 13th, 2012
3:49 pm

They know stupid American’s with too much money anod not enough sense will buy anything! And may I say… all the hype about Suri Cruise having such style, I have yet to see her attractively dressed, her so called style sucks!! My dog has more style in dressing than that kid! Just proving once again money does not buy you style (or class!)

creative

August 13th, 2012
3:58 pm

We have the technology!!! I am creating a new show entitled “Toddlers and Fetuses” With an endoscopy device and acid repellent makeup we can now make the impossible, possible. Please let me know if you are interested in having your unborn baby in a new pageant. Third trimester mothers only please. The first 2 trimesters would really be exploiting the child. We will be filming here in Atlanta, what with all the filming tax breaks and all.

west cobbler

August 13th, 2012
3:58 pm

Amazingly there will be people who will spend $200 on shoes because it will make their child “happy”. But only because the child has been raised to assume that expensive is better and makes him or her a better person. I agree with Augusta and FCM, it’s either awesome clothes or food and other essentials. Well guess what wins in my house. Heck, my husband and I have a decent income and I won’t even buy myself $200 shoes!!!

creative

August 13th, 2012
3:59 pm

I’m sorry incorrect name, My bad. The name of the show id Fetuses and Tiaras” I ruined my own joke.

Jeff

August 13th, 2012
4:09 pm

The easiest way to create high-maintenance adults? Create high-maintenance children of the wanna-be high maintenance adults.

Marketing.

But you know what. It’s their money, they can spend it how they want. But I would never do it and would never be involved with anyone who would (again). :)

Personal choice

August 13th, 2012
4:22 pm

Not understanding the comment “This creates a class system of the haves and have nots,” says Dr. Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. “It creates a culture of envy.”

Our entire political system is based on class envy. People elect other folks specifically to take other people’s money to get them what they want. We have a tax code based on envy. If we didn’t, we would have fees for things instead of a progressive tax that penalizes success and rewards envy.

Just look at the campaign rhetoric of our president. His entire campaign and the entire platform of the Democratic party is based on class envy. I mean the republicans are socialists too, but they are not as open about it as the dems.

And just look at the entertainment industry, ad industry, etc. The whole thing centers on materialistic indulgence and envy of what others have. Our debt run society is based on having without earning yet and an entitlement mentality.

People need to get over themselves. People have what they have and the 60-70million dead at the hands of Stalin, Mao, and their successors shows what happens when you allow class envy to be taken to its natural extreme. You know there is a commandment against envy and it is one of the seven deadly sins too – just saying.

So what if these parents wish to spend that kind of money. Question how they earned their money in the first place, what the current crony capitalism system has done to empower them, and question the values you are teaching your own children. They are supporting industries and the exchange of money for goods is at least voluntary, unlike the mechanism involved in all government actions, so it could be worse.

Unlike free insurance, free food, free schooling, free housing, free healthcare, free cellphone service, etc. at least you are not being forced to pay for these clothes as you are for so many others in our society.

Scooby

August 13th, 2012
4:25 pm

It’s their money. They can spend it how they want. None of my business.

motherjanegoose

August 13th, 2012
6:05 pm

No. I am in Minnesota and thought I would drop by the Mall Of America. I have been several times before. It was the 20th anniversary this past weekend and the place was packed. I got a bite to eat and left. If you banned me from all malls…I would not be sad. I love a bargain and know where to get one. Typically, not at the mall. I just read that JC Penney is having a terrible year since they adopted their no sale and clearance line but everyday pricing. Seems kind of sad as they have been around forever! I remember shopping at Sears and ordering out of the catalogue…no more.

K's Mom

August 13th, 2012
6:12 pm

Techmom, Starsburg has outstanding sales. I have never paid full price for anything there. I think the most I have ever spent is $15/item. Do your inlaws not look for clearance. My older son’s christening outfit did not cost $100. You can usualy find good Strasburg stuff at consignment sales too.

Again, I like nice children’s clothes, but there are definitely ways to do it on a budget.

One question for you guys. My pediatriciam recommends only Stride Rite shoes for kids under three because she says they are the best for feet and spine development. Since we have feet/back issues, I have followed her advice, but again we get lots of SR hand me downs. Has anyone else heard this?

Loosing Managar = Loosing Record

August 13th, 2012
7:22 pm

Enter your comments here

Sarah

August 13th, 2012
7:45 pm

Money is a relative thing. $200 for some people is just simply not alot of money. That is obviously the demographic their going after.

BessBear

August 13th, 2012
8:30 pm

Wow! That’s just stupid, even if you have the money. I just finished a consignment sale. After their take, I will earn about $90. I spent $96 for a ton of new clothes, most of them costing $2 or $3 a piece. I’ll still need to supplement, but I’ll be checking the consignment stores first. The closest we get to designer clothes is Justice, Old Navy and the like, but we pay so much less. I guess I’m glad someone else was willing to overpay for them the first time.

motherjanegoose

August 13th, 2012
11:48 pm

@ K’s Mom…we did SR for our kids but that was forever ago. I was just discussing this with my sisters. The Doctor told my parents that I was flat footed and I was made to wear the ugliest shoes when I was a girl. It was always a fight. I have perfectly fine arches now. My RN sister said she thinks it was a hoax. I also sat next to a pre-med student who worked for a podiatrist ( sp?) and he told me that those toe shoes are the worst for your feet. Who knew?

Big Mama

August 14th, 2012
8:35 am

Even if I had 10K to blow on my child’s wardrobe, I wouldn’t do it. I would not feel right allowing my children to wallow in that much excess when so many other children having nothing.

About shoes…. I had a great shoe lady (since retired) who could look at a child’s feet and find the shoes best designed for those feet. One child has normal feet. One child has very wide feet and she picked out double latch shoes with a contoured footbed for him. He no longer complains of foot or leg pain!

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Kat

August 15th, 2012
11:45 am

I never buy or take “hand-me-down” shoes. Each person’s foot allows the shoe to conform. Who wants to conform to someone else’s foot? Not me or my kids!

These paid “fashion stylists/consultants” will see the error of their ways when they are (surprisingly, no doubt) laid off one day and will wonder what they ever saw in these high-priced items. Of course, their kids will still be living with them because they can’t afford their own rent AND high-priced fashion so they could ask them, “Was it worth it?”