Growing up with style

Updated: 2013-11-04 00:21

By Gan Tian (China Daily)

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When designing garments for tiny tots, style comes last. Gan Tian finds out that the most important elements are safety and comfort.

Growing up with style

A boy displays clothing designed by T100 Kids head designer and president Dong Wenmei in Beijing. Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

Children's fashion does not only belong to the cute Harper Seven Beckham in Great Britain, or Hong Kong baby celebrities like Lucas and Quintus Tse. Children in Chinese mainland are also dressing to impress with chic styles.

The just-ended China Fashion Week 2014 Spring/Summer features three children's wear shows, namely T100 Kids, Ye Ye Kids Wear and Tou Tu Kids Wear.

In these shows at Beijing Hotel, adorable children models blink, grin and pat colorful dolls in their arms. Some of them strut down the runway imitating professional models, others skip their way through. There are also some shy and talkative little ones who whisper to each other as they walk. A girl model, who appears unhappy with the dress she wears, walks fast with an angry face, which amuses the audiences. The shows are full of laughter.

These young models present among others red-striped loose tops, short pants with laces, and red dancing shoes with giant candy knots.

Yang Jian, secretary-general of the China Fashion Week organizing committee, says the event has seen various children's fashion shows during the past years, but it is the first time that so many companies have taken part.

Dong Wenmei, head designer and president of T100 Kids, says her company decided to attend the China Fashion Week to present its collection because the children's wear industry has been making a big progress during the past five years. She says now is the time for designers to show off their creativity.

Watching a children's wear fashion show is totally different from a fashion show for adults. Fashionistas will be disappointed, as they might not find something fashionable, so to speak, during the show. For children's wear, the most important thing is safety, then comfort. Style? That's the last consideration.

"In children's wear, you cannot sacrifice safety for style, and this makes it more difficult to be a children's wear designer," says Zhao Enhuan, creative director of Tou Tu Kids Wear based in Fujian province.

Citing an example, T100 Kids' head designer Dong says for a child's garment, be it a pair of jeans or a small coat, a designer should never use too many belts because the wearer might trip on the belt, or even accidentally strangle themselves with it.

It is the same with the collars. A child's suit should not have a tight collar.

Next is buttons. If the buttons of a jacket, an overcoat, or a pair of jeans, are not fastened securely, they will drop easily, and young wearers might carelessly swallow them, which is extremely dangerous.

Dong says she will use the strongest threads and the best techniques in fastening the buttons of a child's garment. A mother of two children herself, Dong says when she creates a garment, she is extremely careful with the details.

When creating a collection of children's wear, a designer also has to consider its "social impact".

"For example, I will never allow my designing team to create sexy or hot collections. They should always be positive, innocent and beautiful," Dong says.

The China Fashion Week's Yang illustrates that in China, there are more specific regulations on children's wear design.

The industry has become more mature in the past 10 years. The biggest difference is that these producers are beginning to understand the notion of running a brand, according to Yang.

"Most children's wear companies are based in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. They used to be manufacturing factories of international brands, but over the past two decades, they have noticed the market's potential, and begun to form their own brands," Yang says.

It is a large market, too. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the production of children's garments in the Chinese mainland has been growing since 2008. estimates that the country's capacity of buying children's wear has already reached 90 billion yuan ($15 billion) at present, and the demand is increasing by 10 percent each year.

Chinese mainland designers are not the only ones eyeing this huge market, foreign labels are also taking a bite.

For example, big labels like Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier have children's wear lines. During the Fashion Week, Swarovski has also introduced its Little Sparkling Moments fashion show to China for the first time.

Little Sparkling Moments has held fashion shows in New York and Italy. It features children's garments from different big labels, but complete with Swarovski crystals. Its fashion show in Beijing introduced Little Marc Jacobs, Junior Gaultier, Tartine et Chocolat, Caramel Baby & Doll, Moschino Teen, and Richmond Junior.

Hermann Winkler, senior vice-president of Sales Operations, Asia North of Swarovski Professional, said before the show that children's wear are becoming more sophisticated and should be diversified with different elements. With the fast-growing market in China, it looks like now is the right time to introduce Little Sparkling Moments here.

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