Mini Millennial's - The Bizarre and Ever-growing Market for Infant Couture
If you were to take a gander through my family photo albums, you'd be sure to catch a much paler, slightly cuter, and some what smaller version of myself adorned head to toe in nothing but mother care's finest. Although as one takes in the array of mismatching prints and various textures of fleece, all in one single outfit; it begs the question 'did my mother actually care?' Because honestly, I know it was a simpler time but I'm yet to meet anyone who would give the green light to a pair of boot-cut studded jeans, patent Clark's school shoes, with a fuchsia vest and silver sequin bolero (yes it happened). I mean I got away with it on most occasions but there's only so much the novelty of being young and adorable can outweigh the blatant car crash of an outfit in front of them. This said, I think the situation only worsened when I was roughly 8+ and given free reign in Tammy girl, the segment of the BHS that now only exists as a distant, hot pink and black, sparkly, memory.
I admit that the outfits I decided on were totally unforgivable, however my mum still deserves full credit for possibly the worst child's outfit in the history of the earth for the thing she put me in when I was only 1 year old, too young to know what was happening to me. Yes, sadly there's still a baby photo surfacing the earth that will forever haunt me. To paint a picture for you, that probably won't be nearly as bad as the real one: imagine an obliviously happy, chubby baby, dressed in a garishly bright turquoise top, complete with bouffant sleeves, and matching puffy skirt. Already you're aware there's a lot of red flags but don't you dare forget that throughout this entire outfit runs a bizarre, white and black pattern reminiscent of 70's carpet. And in case all that wasn't ridiculous enough, it was then thoughtfully topped off with a delightful (and of course matching) queen mother style hat. Shocking.
Alas times have changed, as someone who has 3 younger siblings, I played witness to the outfits that became gradually less alarming with each child. Skip past my 2 younger brothers and fast forward to 2009 which saw the arrival of my sister, a child who graced the pram in Petit Bateau rompers for those dress down Fridays and nothing less than Chloe dresses for dinner parties and social events. Although personally I think it's only fair she too endures the pains of clashing colours and strange head-wear, it's fair to say that times have definitely changed and the market for children's fashion is worlds apart from what it was say 10 years ago.
This brings me onto the growing market for children's collections by the top dogs in the fashion world. From Givenchy, and Fendi to Dolce and Gabbana, something that used to be considered as a futile waste of money is becoming more prominent and sought after by millennial culture. The rise of social media, especially instagram has lead to a whole genre of children with a large social following due to their bold and striking street-style ensembles. Although they're young there's very little that differs in terms of their outfits when compared to some of the most successful adult equivalents in the fashion/blogging world. Some examples of the tykes taking over the fashion game include, 6 year old Coco (@coco_pinkprincess), designer Natasha Zinko's son Ivan (@thegoldenfly) and 7 year old Just Claudio (@icyjust). Kids dressing like adults is something that often attracts a lot of online attention and in a lot of cases comes across somewhat disturbing and cringey when you've got a 3 year old dressed in a miniature version of their parents office attire. The difference with this new gen of insta-kids is that although initially their parents were dressing them and that would have ignited the flame, it's clear that fashion is something they take great pride in despite being so young.
When I first came across Tokyo's Instagram sensation @coco_pinkprincess, I was astounded and envious of the way she dressed - her age wasn't even on the forefront of my mind, I was simply in awe of her wardrobe. A lot of the time with children who have fashion orientated instagram accounts, I can't help but get the feeling they're being forced into these 'ootd's' as living mannequins for their parents to capitalise on the attention they gain. With Coco the outfits are still incredibly fun and don't lose the essence of being a child; if anything the combination of being so young and wearing high end brands, only adds to the success of her outfits as her imagination knows no bounds and encourages her to take risks a lot of adults would be too scared to make. Having watched interviews of the bubbly 6 year old, it's more than apparent that she genuinely enjoys choosing her outfits and being surrounded by clothes in her parents vintage store. With 358,000 instagram followers it's fair to say that she's probably here to stay in the fashion world, and isn't just a viral fad to be forgotten in a week or so.
More locally is London based 7 year old Just Claudio, the youngest of 4 brothers who have all attracted media attention at fashion week due to their luxury street style outfits. All share a similar flare and passion for designer clothing however there's something about Just's energy in videos and photo shoots that makes him stand out. It takes a certain level of skill or perhaps the niavety/innoncence of a child to pull off head to toe Gucci emblazoned attire without appearing remotely vulgar or ostentatious.
The whole idea of buying an infant designer gear that they're only going to outgrow quicker than say 'Armani Junior', seems somewhat pointless and to many people it is exactly that. There's a vast array of arguments against dressing children in designer clothing especially the younger they are; you can't exactly say to a 6 month baby "For heavens sake Elizabeth, could you please make an effort not to get sick down your dress, it's Versace!" Other than the fact that it seems like a waste to keep buying clothes that won't be greatly appreciated or last long, there's also the fact that they don't come cheap even if you did get good use out of them. The idea of spending literally hundreds on one item of clothing for a child who wouldn't know the difference between Gucci or Gap is a harrowing idea to a lot of people. The thing is the parents of the kids who sport these on trend outfits tend to be in the fashion industry (designers, bloggers, visual merchandising etc) themselves, so for them to put so much thought and care into their own appearance only to then put their child in a Debenhams baby grow, simply doesn't make any sense. Their child is essentially an extension of themselves so it's only logical for them to also be dressed in nothing but the best. This then draws the question however that at what point does one cross the line from the parent expressing their love for fashion through their child, to using their children as accessories?
Ultimately it all comes down to a matter of opinion on how you prioritise spending your money. Personally I believe that if you have the funds to dress your child in clothes that reflect your taste and love for fashion then where is the harm. There is then attention that can come with this, for instance the way that Just Claudio and his brothers were spotted at fashion week and the nickname'the Gucci Brothers' was coined. Nonetheless I feel that this is entirely different to maintaining a social following and exposing a child to social media at such a young age. Obviously it's each individuals decision as parents if they are okay with their children having accounts to celebrate and show off their outfits and I completely understand the notion that it's just a bit of fun and they can't necessarily anticipate how much attention it will gain. However in my opinion I think that there are a lot of risks attached to conditioning a child to be so aware of social media from such a young age. There are serious more sinister risks in the sense that by allowing the world to see your child you don't have control over who is looking at these images as there's all sorts of people out there. There's also then the idea that we're a generation so obsessed with appearances and that we're simply adding fuel to the fire and starting the next generation off even younger to obsess over images rather than just being a child and having fun.