THE BLOG

Kids Fashion Is All About Fun!

23/04/2013 15:40 BST | Updated 23/06/2013 10:12 BST
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Fashion has long been associated with personality and it's common knowledge that attire speaks volumes about the person underneath the fabric; tuning into an individual's interests, political and social standing, as well as aspirations.

Never before have we had such variety and freedom, and when it comes to fashion, pretty much anything goes.

One particular sector of the market, children's wear, is seeing rapid growth and, according to The Telegraph, in the UK alone it's estimated to be worth a staggering £500 million.

Earlier this year, the first ever Global Kids Fashion Week took place in London. Hosted by luxury children's e-tailer AlexandAlexa.com, tickets were charged at £100 per ticket with all the proceeds going to the children's charity Kids Company, who work with vulnerable inner-city children.

As with Petite Parade, a similar event held in New York, high-end fashion labels such as Chloe, Little Marc Jacobs and John Galliano, showcased their children's lines to an audience of stylish parents and industry professionals.

The Independent's Charlotte Phillby, who was one of the journalists that attended, wrote an interesting follow-up article, asking the question: is it right for adults to be promoting fashion and style (and the idea of looking a certain way) to children?

Carrying on with the debate, other writers, bloggers and journalists then started to ask: how expensive is too expensive for children's wear, and are we adults getting a bit carried away?

Notably, Vanessa Friedman of the Financial Times suggested that while the London event was economically understandable, fundamentally it went against the grain of what kids' clothes 'should' be about, as children "need the space to decide who they are", rather than to be told by their parents.

It's certainly controversial: some understandably think that fashion should be the last thing on our children's minds, while others see it as their right to dress their children in anyway they chose - which it is.

The important thing to remember here, is that fashion is marketed at parents, they are the ones with the cash, and overall, I have to say (coming from a place of experience in children's fashion shoots) that children's fashion is supposed to be fun, and what's so wrong with helping children to develop their style?

It's unbelievably obvious when a little person doesn't like an outfit or if they're find a neckline to be irritating, but whether all we adults have available to buy for children are boring brown practical threads, it's still only natural to want to create interesting garments for them.

I know for a fact that my grandmother handmade all of her children's clothes, and they were beautiful.

Sure, children shouldn't be forced into wearing something they don't like, and the idea of pushing brand awareness onto unsuspecting kids who'd simply rather go outside and play, doesn't sit well with me at all.

But some children have really strong ideas about style and the things they would like to wear, as an expression of who they are. Perhaps not as much as we do, or indeed, maybe even more so than we do?

I remember being 6-years-old and absolutely adoring my Spanish rah-rah dress that I had acquired on a family holiday to Ibiza; it was the ONLY thing I wanted to wear.

Why?

Because I felt like 'me' in it, and this was certainly long before I was aware of advertising (though I could reference Disney princesses, so maybe that's debatable) but I certainly didn't know of anyone who paired their dress with paint splashed hi-tops from the USA, like me.

Since then, the world has changed somewhat, and perhaps it is a bit scary to think of all the so-called 'grown-up' things that make impressions on today's children.

Music videos have been slated for the way that half-naked pop stars parade about in a manner akin to erotic dancers and then, influenced by the chart-toppers, children's clothes manufacturers produce items that are downright far too 'adult' (trashy), making them available to the kids market. Though, thankfully, often enough it is the powerful parents groups that pressurise for the removal of such shameful products. But this is when, as with adult fashion, it becomes an issue of taste - which is entirely subjective.

In my opinion, anything that would look cheap on an adult is just wrong on a child.

So, anyway, why have I brought this up, almost a month after the event?

Well, today I saw a little girl of no more than 8-years-old assisting her mother with selecting a dress for a wedding. Holding two options in the air, the mum asked: "What do you think - the red one or the black one?" The little girl tilted her head, taking a moment to decide with "mmm" (by the way, I was subtly doing the same, peeking at the corner of my eye as I glanced at the rails) then the little girl replied, "The red one. It makes you look happier." I agreed.

And this is it, this is the point, and this is what fashion is all about: clothes can make us feel good.

Aside from the brand, the cut and colour of a garment has the power to completely change our mood and can instantly bolster confidence.

We don't walk around naked: we have to dress in something, and, as with adult fashion, why not do so in a way that children enjoy?

Sure, children need space to discover who they are, but fashion doesn't need to get in the way of that. In fact I would argue that it supports it by creating a space for style discovery.

Oh, and just for the record, it's entirely up to parents how much they want to spend on clothes for their children.

Ultimately, children's fashion is a fun and exciting place, and it's intended to be a happy space for play, so let's not forget that when we get too grown-up thinking about the costs and if there are any psychological implications, that's all about common sense and balance.

Whereas the fashion bit, that's all about the fun!