Malls across major metros now retail clothes, accessories, purses and footwear with designer labels for
the young! And it's not just stores like Nike, Reebok, Gini & Jony and OYO that are selling their products
to children. High-end designers have also jumped onto the bandwagon to create clothing lines for children who want to flaunt their flair for fashion. So what's caused this sudden surge in fashion consciousness?
Sejal Kotwal, a class 9 student of Rosary High School says, "I like to dress well. Though I take my
mom's help to choose outfits and footwear, I prefer buying things that are bright and pretty. I love colours
like purple and pink and I buy designer brands for special occasions. My favourite shopping destination is Globus for shirts and t-shirts, because I get a wide range of choice there and the quality is good. I like Westside for jeans, because these jeans are comfortable and the store offers a variety. Max is another store I
buy my clothes from. But beyond labels, I think the comfort factor is what's important when choosing an
outfit. In fact, this helps one decide between competing brands."
Television and the Internet keep children updated on new styles, information on what the stars are wearing and latest fashion fundas. But because many children shop to dress like their favourite stars, experts feel most of them end up dressing similar, almost like clones of each other. As a result, there is no individuality or creativity left in dressing. Vinisha Dugar, a stylist and jewellery brand owner, explains this phenomenon, "Though parents want their children to be well-dressed and play a key role in introducing fashion products to their children, their role is minimal beyond the introduction. It's the children who then decide on what they want to wear and buy. Children have become extremely choosy and handle shopping independently. They choose their own clothes, footwear, perfumes and accessories. I have styled outfits for many children and I think they know exactly what type of clothes and prints suit them or which colour would look good on them. Girls usually follow Hannah Montana's dress sense when they select their clothes. They are attracted to shimmer and usually go for the colour pink. Boys tend to follow their football idols and opt for sporty looks with jackets. They also like bulky shoes and hooded jackets."
The demand to dress like the stars is increasing day by day. And in the bargain, children are often demanding more than their parents can provide for. Niranjani Ramanathan, Director of Itsyberry, a children's clothes store in Coimbatore adds, "Parents like to dress their children up, but are often caught in a price war. Price plays an important role and is the deciding factor for buying things for children. Exclusivity pays. Parents don't mind spending money on products that are long lasting and help their children look nice." 14-year-old
Aarushi Gupta from Indore echoes this thought, "I choose my clothes and usually buy clothes and accessories that are uncommon and exclusive. It is very necessary for me to look good."
But what makes children fashion conscious? Researchers have proved that children actually start expressing themselves at the age of five and six and after that they become fashion conscious, especially if their parents are also careful about what they wear. If parents shop at exclusive stores, their children are bound to follow suit. And then there is always the peer pressure to dress better than the rest. Minoti Sampat, COO of Mal, a designer clothing store for children, says, "Parents always want the best for their children and when it comes to special occasions like a child's first birthday, 10th birthday or weddings, parents comes to us with special requests for their children's clothes. We've made custom designed clothes for boys, which include shirts from Savio John, doghri trousers, Jodhpuri pants, lounge wear and much more. Lately we have also added specially designed raincoats and rainwear to suit the season. We even have ready-made saris for girls that can be just zipped and worn!"
So is this kind of fashion consciousness good for children? Alison Morris, editor of MyDaughter.co.uk says, "Children are being bombarded with information about what is the right thing to wear. Information media like TV and the Internet play up images of celebrity tots such as Suri Cruise being snapped in expensive designer
clothing. Young children, particularly girls, are keen to wear fashionable clothes to fit in with their peer groups. However, we need to teach children that dressing well is not the be all and end all of life. Families and schools must emphasise the fact that it is wrong to make judgments about people based on their appearance, clothes and accessories. It is the work you do that speaks volumes about your character."
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