Luxury

Only five years ago, the high-end children’s wear business was dominated by just a few major designers like Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Christian Dior. But the recent influx of others is the latest sign that affluent shoppers have gone back to splurging since the recession. And as the wealthy feel more comfortable about spending again, they increasingly want their kids to reflect themselves.
It’s a “mini-me” phenomenon, says Robert Burke, a New York-based fashion consultant. “It feels good. It’s like one for me and one for you,” he says. The trend isn’t limited to Manhattan or Beverly Hills, but is occurring in other big cities like Boston and Chicago, he says. Sales of designer children’s wear are also strong in resort areas where retirees who tend to dote on their grandkids live, he says.
Luxury children’s sales account for just a fraction, or just over 3%, of the $34 billion market, but it’s growing faster than the rest of the children’s wear and clothing market, according to NPD Group Inc., a research firm. For the past 12 months ended in May, children’s wear sales rose 4%, with the upscale component up 7%, according to NPD’s most recent data. That compares with a 3% rise for the overall clothing market.
Designers, seeking more growth, are now looking at children’s wear as another way to deepen their relationship with their customers as well as reach out to new ones.
The designers are targeting household incomes of at least $350,000, says Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst. That’s about seven times the U.S. median household income of $49,445.
Many of the new designer entries are more expensive than some of the established brands like Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren’s cotton shirts for boys are priced about $59. In comparison, Dolce & Gabbana’s plaid shirts for boys run $190. Girl’s dresses are about $500.Nordstrom, whose designer kids clothes were limited to a few names like Burberry and Ralph Lauren, is adding a number of collections for kids from the likes of Marni, Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney.

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