Why we should be taking our cue from the kids when it comes to where to shop

IMAGE: Balmain autumn/winter 2017 collection


You’ll have heard of mini-mes – celebrities and influencers dressing their children exactly in their likeness – but how about the maxi-mums?

The smart mamas buying designer must-haves not just for their little dears, but also for themselves. It is the inevitable outcome of the impossible-to-resist childrenswear collections being made by all of the hottest designers.

Marni, Balmain, Burberry, Givenchy, Gucci, Kenzo, Stella McCartney and Paul Smith – they’re all creating collections in the image of their adult lines. An age 14 bomber jacket from Gucci that you could squeeze into? Well, why wouldn’t you. And if the clothing is too small then why not pick up a cute bag or belt instead.

"It's not so much an insider's secret as a shortie's secret."

— Fashion and interiors writer Carolyn Asome

IMAGE: Balmain autumn/winter 2017 childrenswear

Last year the global childrenswear market was worth £112.8 billion according to Euromonitor International, with designer childrenswear accounting for around four per cent. And between 2011 and 2016, growth in childrenswear outpaced that of men’s and womenswear.

Talking to fashion insiders, PRs and boutique owners, it is clear that more and more adults are turning to childrenswear.

“I love to shop in smallable.fr and Gap for myself,” says fashion and interiors writer Carolyn Asome. “You don’t pay any VAT and it’s different to what is out there for women. Some things don’t work like dresses or shirts, which are not cut with ample room for a bust, but I like to pick up trousers and sweaters. It’s not so much an insider’s secret as a shortie’s secret.”

Bonita Turner editor of Junior magazine online, agrees: “The best shoes I ever bought were a pair of animal print loafers in a size six from the kids section at Boden.”

"Lately my 12-year-old has been sneaking into my cupboard to borrow my clothes. It won’t be long before I have to borrow hers!"

— Nicola Rose, fashion director at Red magazine

IMAGE: Givenchy autumn/winter 2017 childrenswear

Nicola Rose, Red magazine’s fashion and creative director, who has worked as a stylist for more than 20 years, says: “The first piece of kidswear that I bought was a cashmere navy sweater from Crew Cuts at J Crew. I still have it and if I recall it was £75 compared to about £160 for the same piece in womenswear. I like clothes that are small – an age 14 for me is perfect. Sometimes you can find a version of something in the adult department that’s just made for teens. I know a couple of my friends in the business who are savvy to this. I would never go beyond the basics – but I have got a pair of kids Ugg slippers.”

Peder Kraugerud, apparel and footwear analyst at Euromonitor, says designer childrenswear is booming, particularly in major luxury markets like China and the US, with many brands either launching or putting greater emphasis on their designer childrenswear.

“There is also the current mummy-and-me trend – influenced by celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Beyonce posting pictures of their children dressed in designer brands – driving the trend,” he adds.

"When designer childrenswear looks this good - who wouldn't be tempted to try some of the styles."

— Pret A Parent

IMAGE: Gucci autumn/winter 2017 childrenswear


The hottest stomping grounds are J Crew’s Crew Cuts, sportswear brands like Nike and Champion, petite in Topshop and shoe departments where you can pick up branded slippers and wellies at a snip of the adult price. 

An adult Givenchy hooded top for example is £885 on Net-A-Porter and £150 in the children’s department, although some brands have cottoned on to these spend-thrift parents and have stopped their sizing at age 12.

Rose says: “Most recently I thought about looking in Gucci kids department to see if I could find anything. It’s still a massive investment in price but not as much as the women’s ready-to-wear and they have some pieces that are actually smaller versions of the collection. Now I wouldn’t advise buying a dress but a bomber jacket or a T-shirt would work for sure. Cashmere will always be a lot cheaper, bikinis (age 14) and trainers. Lately my 12-year-old has been sneaking into my cupboard to borrow my clothes. It won’t be long before I have to borrow hers!”

Well women have been talking about dressing their age for some time – but this has taken it to a whole new level.