Hipster Kids’ Clothing a Hot Trend in Retail
When today’s Generation Z and Millennials were little, their parents used to spiff them up in signature Baby Gap and Baby Abercrombie t-shirts. But what was considered the height of kiddie cool back then is old hat now that millennials are becoming parents.
According to Goldman Sachs, about 90% of new moms last year were Millennials. Members of that famously free-spirited and self-referential generation want to dress their children in a way that represents their own individual styles. Not surprisingly, a slew of hipster children’s clothing brands have popped up to fill the wardrobes of Generation Alpha (the latest label for kids born after 2010). Contrary to the way legacy retailers threw big money into TV commercials or gigantic billboard ads in Times Square, these edgy brands tend to be built on Instagram, Facebook and, with increasing frequency, on SnapChat, one follower at a time.
Mini Rodini, for instance, is a Stockholm-based chic kids’ label that targets up to age 11. The brand is known for its signature prints and illustrations that range from cheery cherries and quirky flamingos to mischievous pirates. With 111,000 followers on Instagram, Mini Rodini has developed a cult following in the U.S. despite the fact that it is only available online and via the occasional high-end retailer. Flynn Bloom, the five-year-old son of model Miranda Kerr and actor Orlando Bloom, has been seen wearing a Mini Rodini jacket covered in cute little twinky stars.
The Millennial generation has grown up with an ongoing connection to social causes, so many indie kids’ clothing lines underscore social responsibility as part of their brand identities. Mini Rodini stokes its customers’ “do-good” egos by making its products from organic, sustainable materials.
Some of the new edgy kids’ labels are designed by Millennial moms. Take Salty Little Bums, a Southern California-based minimalist brand for babies and toddlers. Salty Little Bums was started by Kendall Hicks, a 28-year-old designer who had her first baby a year ago. (Full disclosure: Hicks is the stepdaughter of Newscenter.io’s founder, David Wamsley.) Hicks, who started the company as a sideline after the birth of her son, said she was motivated by the classic conundrum of cool moms: You want your kid to have personal style, but you don’t want him looking like mini versions of Justin Bieber.
Salty Little Bums uses funny and quirky text phrases such as “Tough Stuff” and “Suns Out Bums Out” to add attitude to its signature baby t-shirts. Most of its customers come from Instagram, where it already has almost 8,000 followers.
The shift underway toward smaller, upstart kids’ fashion brands may be contributing to the battering of some legacy companies. Gap and Abercrombie have both lost around 40 percent of their market value in the last 12 months. In the same way microbreweries are grabbing market share from Anheuser Busch and Coors and Jessica Alba’s Honest Company is nibbling at the heels of Johnson’s Baby, these upstart kids’ brands could be accelerating the demise of yesterday’s fashion behemoths — just as they, two decades previously, eclipsed Sears and JCPenney.