By Neha and Dipe Rajani, Founders of Sonality
Environmental awareness, helped extensively by social media, is changing the way many of us shop. Combine that with the fact that young mums are more interested in what their children wear than ever before and it’s clear to see why the babies and children’s wear market is changing so rapidly.
But what are the top trends that babies and children’s wear businesses should look for? And, more importantly, what are the opportunities?
TREND ONE: Non-Gender Clothes
If you shop for kids clothing on the high street, you know exactly what awaits you. Pink and purple clothes with unicorn and fairies for girls and dinosaurs, trucks and spaceships in green and blue for boys. However, times are changing. Girls like dinosaurs and there’s no reason why boys cannot wear pink and this is gradually being reflected in the clothes that are available.
John Lewis became the first retailer to ditch the ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ labels from its children’s clothing range, in 2017, and Clarks announced that its 2018 range would be designed with an ‘entirely unisex approach’. There are now also many online retailers such as Little Bird and Mini Rodini who are also offering fun, unisex kids wear.
Designing non-gender clothing is a growth market with plenty of scope for new and smaller brands to make their name.
TREND TWO: Personalisation
For some time, personalised clothing has been making its way to the forefront of kid’s fashion. Being able to add a unique, personal touch to clothes appeals to both parents and children – it’s a great way for them to express their individuality.
High street brands like Gap, Next and Mothercare are now offering personalisation options. Alongside these old favourites, new innovative, younger brands are appearing which take personalisation to a new level.
For example, Sonality allows total personalisation/customisation for babies and children – from the colour, text, images, print type, etc. Consumers can design their item from scratch or choose from the inspiration page and adapt the design.
TREND THREE: Twinning
As the phrase goes ‘Twinning is Winning’ and this no longer applies to actual twins! Mums want their daughters to dress as ‘mini me’ and dads want coordination with their sons.
For example, Next’s ‘Just Like Me’ collection coordinates looks for kids and grown-ups and Matalan’s ‘Mini Me’ range has adorable matching mini me outfits from T-shirts, Dresses, Suits and PJs. Mini-meLondon is an online kid’s clothing brand that aims to bring fun and style to dressing up, by offering matching outfits for adults and children.
This is an opportunity to capture both the children and the adult market at the same time, by enabling parents to buy matching outfits.
TREND FOUR: Organic
New parents, parents-to-be and parents of young children, want their offspring to wear the safest and softest material to protect delicate newborn and young skin. Consequently, many brands use organic cotton produced without the use of pesticides or chemicals that can irritate skin or aggravate allergies.
Look out for manufacturers that have the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) or Oeko-Tex certifications, which means no chemical pesticides or fertilisers can be used in production and farmers must work under safe conditions with an agreed minimum wage.
TREND FIVE: Sustainability
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world and, as a result, children’s clothing is seeing a shift towards sustainability. Sustainability is considered as reducing the environmental impact of the production process and ensuring ethical guidelines are in place when it come to safe working practices in factories and fair wages.
H&M has vowed that it will use 100% recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030, as well as eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from its production process by 2040. Currently its ‘Conscious Kids’ collection is leading the way. This collection is made from sustainable materials including ones that are recycled, organic or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), so you can feel safe in the knowledge that your little one is wearing something that has been made with the environment in mind.
There are certainly opportunities for new and fledgling brands in this area – but be aware that it won’t be that long before ALL brands HAVE to move in this direction, so you’d need an extra USP to stand out in the long term. However, if you can start the road to sustainability now, you’ll be ahead of the curve, and currently parents are willing to pay a premium for a compassionate product.
TREND 6: The Move Away from Fast Fashion
Fast Fashion is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. However, with people thinking more and more about sustainable fashion there is starting to be a shift away from fast fashion towards clothes that last and can be kept and used longer.
With this in mind, brands are now incorporating features that allow garments to grow with little ones. For example, roll up hems and adjustable shoulder straps. In addition, MPs are considering a ‘fast fashion’ tax on synthetic materials in an attempt to crack down on the plastic pollution caused by large fashion houses and retailers.
These are just a few of the trends we’re already beginning to see in children’s clothing; and far from being a threat to the industry, these trends indicate just how strong and vibrant children’s clothing is in the UK, with opportunities for new, innovative brands to enter the marketplace with unique products that speak to our changing clothing desires.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neha and Dipe Rajani are the founders of Sonality, a personalised clothing brand for Babies, Kids and Adults. Sonality offers total personalisation allowing you to design items from scratch, or choose an existing design and personalise it as you wish. The concept is simple: top quality, ethically made clothes are combined with your design ideas and bought to life in the Sonality design studio. Every item from Sonality is as unique as you are.