In the 1990s, there was Baby Gap and abercrombie. In the 2000s, there was Liz Claiborne Kids and Dolce and Gabbanna Junior. Modern up-and-comings are requiring that their baby’s wardrobe meet the standards of their own. A New York Times article from this past week discusses the rise of designer children’s clothing, as brands like Stella McCartney and Gucci are playing catch-up, creating doll-like outfits that match Mommy and Daddy’s. While the market has picked up in the past few years, it’s really been leading up to this all along. The longest living trend in high fashion is to stay relevant by reaching even higher.
But not without criticism: Some mothers, and even other designers, told the New York Time that this is the lowest that designers could go. “I can’t bear advertising on children,” lamented Rachel Riley, owner of her namesake’s British children’s label, about the mini-me fashions. “And why would a child need to have anything remotely sexy? To me, it’s unethical.” Add the typical designer markup of 7.5 times cost, and it’s clear why high-end designers have only cornered a tiny fraction of the market.
Jewelry, on the other hand, has managed to maintain a healthy relationship across generations regardless of price. Legitimate protests of fine jewelry worn by children are hard to find. Adorning young ones with pieces that capture their tininess and beauty is a practice that stands the test of time. The Spanish custom of giving jewelry to newborns as a blessing is centuries old; toddlers fresh from the ear piercing store in the mall is a modern take. Baptisms and birthdays are prime for tokens of good luck, such as religious charms and lockets. Going back to ancient roots, Zuni fetish stones are worn even by babies and necklaces and bracelets are the status symbols carried by young boys from African tribes.
A gold cross or a pair of diamond earrings not only adds a touch of sophistication to a little girl’s cuteness, but teaches an early lesson in knowing the value of what they own. The prices are generally fair and standardized — affordable compared to the $1,200 Burberry jackets that will last through only so many spilled juice stains. And fine jewelry doesn’t take advantage of children by using them to advertise a brand. Children don’t seem to care about that sort of thing, yet the sparkle of a precious stone worn at a fancy event will catch their curiosity. Perhaps that’s why jewelry for children is embraced without question: Choosing it is like seeing the world through the eyes of a child, instead of other adults.