The rising popularity of streetwear for teens (and now adults) is trickling down to childrenswear, where a mini-streetwear market is quietly booming.
Last week, the men’s streetwear site Hypebeast launched a dedicated childrenswear vertical called Hypekids to address this growing market and track its new releases. “Our readers who have become parents have expressed a desire to share and spread their passion for fashion and youth culture to the next generation,” said Kevin Ma, the company’s chief executive officer, at the time.
The movement has even made its way to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, who launched their label Kids Supply — a mini-Yeezy of sorts — in May. Made using high-quality fabrics in Kardashian’s native Calabasas, the line includes bombers, hoodies and slip dresses ranging from $22-$240. Their latest drop included customizable Yeezy sneakers that quickly sold out.
Hypebeast has launched a new childrenswear vertical called Hypekids
Other brands dominating the space include Bape Kids, Little Giants, Haus of JR, Mini Rodini, Akid and Hey Babe L.A. — not to mention the handful of mainstream brands, like Nike, Adidas and Uniqlo, which have put their own spin on the trend. Seeing those established brands hop on board was a big impetus for the Hypekids launch, according to Ma.
The prevalence of stylish parents posting photos of their well-dressed children on platforms like Instagram and Facebook was another factor, he said.
“Kids’ fashion is far more edgy than it was five years ago, let alone a decade,” said Nasiba Adilova, a fashion week regular and the co-founder (alongside Fashion Tech Lab’s Miroslava Duma) of the children’s e-commerce site The Tot. “Parents and kids are moving away from traditional gender-specific kids’ clothes and gravitating toward more fun styles that would suit both adults and children.”
Although its inventory does not strictly fall into the streetwear category, The Tot sells a wide range of luxe sportswear and shoes to meet consumer demand, including sneakers by People Footwear and the aforementioned Akid. Adilova, who has two boys under the age of 4, launched the site in 2015 to cater to the larger burgeoning childrenswear market — a goal shared by the newly launched Maisonette, the product of two ex-Vogue staffers.
North West wearing her parents’ designs for Kids Supply
Both sites are well-timed. According to the latest data from Euromonitor, the value of the U.S. childrenswear market increased by 14 percent between 2011 and 2016, making it worth $31,570 million by the end of last year. It’s slated to grow another 8 percent by 2021, to a value of $34,069 million.
“Streetwear garments that mirror adult trends are seeing particular movement and investment” in this space, according to Katharine Carter, a fashion and retail analyst at Edited. Edited has seen a 20 percent increase in arrivals for children’s bomber jackets over the last six months, compared to the same period last year, with the average price increasing by a whopping 63 percent, an indication that luxury players like Balenciaga are getting involved. This mimics a 46 percent increase in bomber arrivals for adults. The same pattern can be seen with sweatshirts, which increased by 44 percent for kids and 60 percent for adults in the same period.
“We’ve grown up with streetwear being in fashion and are at an age now where we’re having children,” said Jeff Carvalho, the co-founder of High Snobiety, who has a 2–year-old son. “I think keeping your kids looking stylish is just a lot of fun.”
He was once loath to be that Dad, however. “I had a moment where I was like, I’m never going to buy my kid the sneakers that I would buy myself,” he explained. Now, he enjoys shopping for his kid more than himself.
Little Giants sells onesies with streetwear puns
Ivan Rivera embraced that lifestyle head on when he co-founded the Little Giants clothing line with his wife, Khrysti, in 2013. While Khrysti was pregnant with their first child, the Riveras found themselves disappointed with the childrenswear options available to them. “Everything on sale in mainstream stores for kids is so homogenous,” said Ivan.
So they took matters into their own hands, screenprinting a set of t-shirts for their future son. When everyone from friends to strangers on the street started asking about the pieces, the duo realized they might be onto something and launched a website. “We were filling a void of sorts for like-minded parents,” said Rivera.
Today, the brand — which sells products for newborns to 6-year-olds — is one of the most well-known in the kids streetwear space, selling apparel across categories, including onesies with puns like “Born Trill” and T-shirts featuring Big Bird in a Coogi sweater that reads “The Notorious B.I.R.D.”
Unlike some companies, they’ve kept their prices affordable, with onesies and T-shirts selling for $20-25, and hoodies hovering at around $40. “The reality is that three to four months from now, your kid may not fit into whatever you’re buying for him — so $100 T-shirts are a bit much,” said Rivera.
An editorial from Hypekids featuring Bape Kids product
The market has definitely blown up since they launched, said Rivera, noting that Kim and Kanye’s recent endorsement alone has given it more screen time. “Everybody and their mom is going to want to do kids’ streetwear, just because they see them doing it,” he joked.
But him and Carvalho agree that we’re unlikely to see tons of adult-facing streetwear brands fully jumping on the trend, citing the tough balancing act of keeping a brand cool when it’s available to children. “There’s a fine line here, and you don’t want to over-broaden your market,” said Rivera. “What 20-year-old in college wants to rock the same thing as a 3-year-old?”