Do We Really Need A Kids Fashion Week?

After weeks of hype, Global Kids Fashion Week, billed as the first international fashion week for children, is finally here.

Based in London, it kicked off with a private, celeb-studded soirée on Monday evening; the first runway show and after party - by invitation only - was held yesterday; and the sold-out public event runs today, with just 200 tickets at up to £100 each.

I went along to Monday's runway show expecting to be appalled. Having reported on the rapid recent explosion in designer fashion for children before, I'm only too aware of the obscene materialism of this industry.


Tacky Gucci changing bags that cost nearly £600 a pop; hideous Juicy Couture jackets for £60; Fendi babygros at £172 that, were it not for the label, you'd think had come out of the bargain bucket at Mothercare.


If the blingy uber-pricing is inappropriate, the adult-ification of what children look like is depressing.

Even the better-designed brands like Chloé describe their children's garments in astonishingly adult terms: Chloé said not long ago of its baby girl dresses: 'Daydreaming and slender-figured, the little Chloé girl embodies elegance and softness.' Tragically, it seems a modern girl is literally never too young to start aspiring to that slim model form.

Watching the catwalk show yesterday, it was hard not to get caught up, for an hour, in a certain glamour and buzz. There were dazzling A-listers along the front rows (Jemma Kidd stood next to me at one point and seemed about twice my height of 5 ft 3).

The lighting and music were impressive and there was a feeling of excitement wired through the room. The child models were charming.

As for the designer clothes, some were very cute - though others looked like the sort of haute couture only a Hollywood child star would ever wear; or, at the other end of the scale, indistinguishable from bland mini-me-style high street designs that aim for little people to dress like adults in sportswear.

But afterwards I was left feeling that there was no substance here, just a lot of hype whipped up by the online children's clothing store Alex & Alexa (or 'global style destination for children'), which orchestrated the whole event.

The hype partly applies to the fact that this is not in fact a fashion week - it only lasts for 48 hours. There are no events apart from the two catwalk shows and the three parties.

"It was a bit s**t, wasn't it?" one fashion insider whispered to me afterwards. "It felt like one big advert for Alex & Alexa."

But more than that, the self-consciously aloof, cool way some of the children strutted down the catwalk, clearly trying hard to imitate adult model walking, or in other cases looking shy and self-conscious at doing something so grown-up, made me want to cry. I felt like the children's natural, unspoilt beauty was being abused, in a funny way.

Then there was the primped and preened audience - the sneering-faced fashionista men in neckties; the sea of eyes flickering from face to face to see who of importance was there; the rigidly unsmiling, air-kissing crew with their lists of who got into the exclusive event; then who got to sit in each row, and who was 'standing room only'.


Just like an adult fashion show, this cold, glittering event took itself so seriously. The over-arching message seemed to be that children can be as chic as adults. But do we want that in our society?


It all left a bitter taste in the mouth. Could they not have given a single chubby child, and a disabled child, a chance to model?

And the edited video of the fashion show on the official website is shown dubbed to music with the lyrics: 'I can't get enough...You turn me on, how could I turn you down?' Whoever made that decision must really be living in lala land.

In mitigation, Global Kids Fashion Week does support a very deserving charity, Kids Company, which provides support to vulnerable inner-city children.

And we all have our taste snobberies. I may think D&G for five-year-olds is OTT, but I suppose I'm just as much a fashion victim when it comes to buying middle-class kids' brands like Duns Sweden. But then again, the children's designers I like make clothes suitable for childhood, as opposed to copying blingy adult trends.

At least the children at the show didn't take it too seriously - frankly, they seemed more interested in the free popcorn than the clothes. One front-rower's little boy tried to join in on the catwalk , and wouldn't be dragged off. And when I heard at least one celebrity's toddler having a meltdown, I actually felt warm relief.

It was heartening to remember that no matter how adults may try, small children aren't yet worried about how they look - thank God.