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Luxury Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana has launched its first childrenswear collection, making it the latest label in the growing numbers of designers targeting childrenswear.
The designers’ debut childrenswear collection targets boys and girls from newborn up to age 10 and includes a wide range of products across many apparel categories, including outerwear, footwear, sportswear, swimwear and accessories.
According to the fashion house, despite its younger target market, the range is as high quality as any of the garments it markets to adult consumers, making it a miniature version of the designers’ signature line. The first collection, for the autumn/winter 2012 season, is on sale globally through children’s boutiques and department stores.
While Dolce & Gabbana, which ditched its lower priced D&G diffusion line in summer 2012 because of consumers’ confusion between the spin-off brand and the parent brand itself, stated that in terms of timing the launch is simply a natural evolution of the brand, opportunity for designer childrenswear has never been higher and as a result, a host of new players are entering the market.
Largely because parents are more likely to cut down on spending on their own clothes before they cut down on spending on clothes for their children, childrenswear weathered the global downturn better than many other clothing categories. And now, as the global economy begins to show signs of stability, high-income families are beginning to feel more comfortable about spending again. As a result a growing number of parents are splashing out on designer childrenswear, which results in a healthy growth of 7.4% on a global level in 2012.
Up until relatively recently the luxury-goods business tended to regard itself as an adults-only world and as recently as five years ago the high-end childrenswear business was dominated by only a handful of major designers, with Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Christian Dior the most well known and successful. However, a number of designers have noticed the category’s potential and with its childrenswear range Dolce & Gabbana follows in the footsteps of many fellow luxury labels including Gucci, Marni, Stella McCartney, Lanvin and Diane von Furstenberg, who have all launched childrenswear lines in recent years. In late 2011 Gucci, which launched its children’s collection in 2010, opened its first children’s store in New York.
Although children’s designer wear is seeing high value sales in many countries the world over, the reality is that children’s luxury fashion is still a niche market compared to the US$147 billion global children’s apparel industry. With premium prices – Dolce & Gabbana’s plaid shirts for boys retail at around US$150 and girl’s dresses at around US$500 – designer childrenswear lines are targeted at an extremely small section of society, with the vast majority of consumers ruled out in terms of affordability.
While there is certainly money to be made, designer labels are being attracted to childrenswear for more than simply the financial gains on offer. Moving into childrenswear allows designer brands to expand their offering without the likelihood of confusing consumers – while few if any consumers are likely to mix up a childrenswear line with an adult line, spin-off designer brands such as the now defunct D&G line can impact on the perception of the parent brand with consumers in emerging markets in particular unclear over the distinctions between each. In short, childrenswear allows for expansion without the worry of diluting the original brand.