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The Fashion-Insider Labels With Minimal Designs For Kids

Thanks to the designer.

If the mere mention of “Mommy and Me” dressing triggers painful flashbacks of frilly dresses and oversized lace collars, take a deep breath and imagine a pair of black cashmere crewnecks from The Row instead. The luxury line from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen is one of the few fashion-insider labels that targets a new generation of discerning parents: those who want to dress their children the way they do. Major fashion houses, including Burberry and Ralph Lauren, prepared shoppers to pay a pretty penny for small designer pieces. Now smaller, cult-favorite brands are offering a new aesthetic, a noticeable departure from traditional kids’ styles. More minimalist and casual designs, often in neutral or subdued tones, avoid gender categorization and offer more flexibility. Think less itchy, smocked floral dresses; more relaxed, slouchy tan pants.

Debuting its first capsule collection for kids last September, The Row invaded the adorable territory of Bonpoint and Jacadi with its signature solid dividers for kids ages 2 to 10. As an adult, I found it hard not to drool over the first Italian-made range of cashmere, which included $590 lounge pants and a $650 belted scarf cardigan. As a mom, though, I found it hard not to wonder if these pieces could withstand a little drool – or worse. But what’s a dry cleaning bill in the name of fashion?

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Mini-me-worthy looks from Rejina Pyo

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At Montreal fashion-forward luxury retailer Ssense, The Row is one of the top performers for adults. So it was a natural extension to carry the kids’ line as well, says Brigitte Chartrand, vice president of women’s clothing purchasing. She also oversees the children’s range, which was launched last spring. Her goal? “To put together an offering that feels ‘less junior,'” she says. “What works well for Sensee Kids reflects what works well on the adult side in terms of styling and aesthetics.” The young models on the Ssense website pout and pose like their adult counterparts – the only difference being that their heights, listed online for sizing purposes, are in inches rather than feet.

Smiling may not be part of the styling, but kids will benefit from this new direction. Comfort is a major selling point. Take Ssense’s exclusive Fear of God Essentials Kids capsule from designer Jerry Lorenzo. At the heart of the range are cotton T-shirts and fleece items, pieces every parent knows on every playground. But Lorenzo’s design details, such as a stand-up collar on a sweatshirt or a wider leg on shorts, elevate the look immeasurably. Primary colors be damned, Essentials styles are cast in shades of khaki, pale sage, and brownish mustard. Suitable for school pick-up or a street style photo shoot? You tell me.

front row, frame kids, the row, fear of god essentials kids, burberry kids

Little hypebeasts can choose from looks from labels like Frame Kids.

Thanks to the designers.

It seems that parents are willing to reach deep into their piggy bank to perform this style. Last fall, Saks Fifth Avenue launched a $400 navy Palm Angels hoodie, $690 Rick Owens high-tops, and a $985 off-white bomber jacket. While the logo and branding elements do it best, its impressive growth in the children’s category in general that the high-end department store plans to “continue to expand our children’s range and test more minimalist and neutral styles,” said chief merchandising officer Tracy Margolies. Saks did a “Mini Me” edit on his website, featuring large and small versions of a black Balmain sweatshirt, black Balenciaga sneakers, and black Moschino sweatpants.

front row, jacquemus

Mini-me-worthy looks from Jacquemus.

Thanks to the designer.

As in most parts of life, it helps to have moms in the mix. London-based designer Rejina Pyo used her own experiences as a parent when launching her children’s line last spring. “I wanted to make sure that the sizes and designs were versatile, that the kids could wear them for more than a few months, and that they could be passed on to other family members or friends after they outgrew them,” she says. †

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Appearance of The Row.

Thanks to the designer.

Volume helps with that. Elastic too. Cotton twill leopard pants can be worn full-length, Rejina Pyo’s website says, “or as culottes as the child grows.” I could imagine that the “Nora” dress, with its lovely Peter Pan collar, would become a tunic over leggings thanks to the elasticated waist and sleeves. Where possible, Pyo upcycles materials from its adult designs. The leopard print from her Spring 2021 collection was used to create a utility jacket in the kids line.

This kind of continuous line helps customers see the connection between the adult and children’s range, according to Kelly Dowdy, co-owner and buyer at English Rabbit, a children’s boutique in Beverly Hills.

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Fear of God Essentials Children.

Thanks to the designer

Similar silhouettes and embellishments also go a long way — anything that telegraphs a link between kids and their adults. When we spoke, Dowdy had sweatshirts with shoulder pads on the sales floor, along with high-waisted mom jeans. (Yes, mom jeans. For kids.)

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a children

Thanks to the designer

Still, Dowdy makes sure that adult brands’ designs are suitable for the little ones. Sometimes prints are too sophisticated or the design elements, such as cutouts, are too mature. She even passed on a style of kids Golden Goose sneakers that was a little too distressed for her taste. “Someone who spends that much money on a kid’s shoe doesn’t want it to look totally wrecked,” she says. It is better to let the children apply the patina themselves.

This article appears in the March 2022 issue of ELLE.

Elizabeth Holmes Contributing Editor Elizabeth Holmes is a Bay Area writer and the author of the forthcoming book HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style.

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