By Kate Berry and Sally Blaxall, QHQ.
The Childrenswear industry is booming - according to Euromonitor, it’s growing 5 percent to $203.4 billion last year. “The rising middle class in emerging markets, coupled with abolition of the one-child policy in China, is resulting in greater per capita expenditure. Furthermore, the shift towards smaller, later families, with high disposable incomes is resulting in lavish spending on children. The category continues to transition from soft dressing to trend-led products, as fashion plays a bigger role in the buying process, and the frequency at which clothing is purchased continues to rise.” New Apparel and Footwear Research Category Overview 2017, Euromonitor International.
Celebrity offspring are leading the style stakes, with North West, Harper Beckham, Suri Cruise, Prince George and Princess Charlotte all showcasing designer looks that set the internet alight with orders whenever they are photographed. Designer brands are cashing in on the new wave of celebrity mini-mes, with all key luxury brands offering apparel and accessories for under 12s. You can now buy your toddler a fur-trimmed Moncler snowsuit or how about a pair of Adidas Yeezys for your little darling? The designer kidswear market alone is predicted to reach a massive $5.89 billion in 2017.
And it's not just top price style for little people. Primark, New Look, Next, Missguided and Boohoo.com are just a few of the savvy high street and online brands targeting the instagram and snapchat obsessed ‘tween’ market. "The growing tween and teen population presents opportunities for the sector, particularly for retailers that offer the latest trends in age-appropriate styles because over half of children aged 10-14 want their clothes to be fashionable. Young fashion retailers are in a good position to target this demographic with specific teen collections as these social media-savvy digital natives are influenced by the same fashion images as older teens.” Tamara Sender, Mintel Senior Fashion Analyst.
So with the global kidswear sector growing and more and more brands investing in their childrenswear offering, you would think the industry would have plenty of technical experts to fill the new jobs? In fact, Kate Berry, director QHQ thinks there is a skills gap: “Childrenswear technologists where are you? There seems to be a lack of kids’ garment technologists and it’s causing issues for retailers and suppliers alike.”
Kate, fellow director, Sally Blaxall and her colleagues at QHQ are actively encouraging students and junior garment technologists to think about specialising in kidswear as they start out on their careers. Sally says: “If you love fast fashion and are up for a challenge, then kidswear is the sector for you. It’s a very challenging technical role - you really need to be up on current legislation and risk assessment, combined with understanding and predicting fashion trends. Kidswear moves fast, in keeping with adult fashion, and many brands are investing in developing their products leading to more career opportunities in years to come. If your goal is to travel in your career, then kidswear is a great choice - it’s an international industry and there are now lots of opportunities in Europe and further afield.”
So how do you succeed in applying for a job as a Kidswear garment technologist? QHQ advise that you will need the following:
- A degree in Fashion or Clothing Technology.
- Some work experience working as a Childrenswear Technologist preferably within retail environment is always appealing for retailers or suppliers.
- A sound knowledge of all relevant Childrenswear legislation relating to Childrenswear design safety.
- A sound understanding of fabrics and fabric testing procedures.
- Garment engineering skills and a good knowledge of garment manufacturing and factory procedures .
- Technical skills to deliver fit for purpose clothing.
- Excellent communication skills.
- The ability to be self-accountable whilst working in a team environment.
So why is there such a big buzz in the kids sector? The internet is playing a strong role - Instagram is awash with mini fashion ‘influencers’ inspiring consumer fans to purchase the products they model. Multiple online platforms curating designer childrenswear have launched this year and image conscious parents are using social media to share their cute offspring’s latest looks… and so the wheel of fashion keeps on turning. Plus the growing popularity of dressing up and sharing images of festivals, such as Halloween and Christmas are boosting the demand for cute novelty costumes, ‘mommy and me’ dressing and personalisation. It’s true to say that small people equals big fashion.