Author: Kate Bickerton, 07 September 2017

The launch of Arcadia’s new Outfit Kids clothing line this month has us all wishing that we could squeeze into the largest ’12 years’ size.  While that’s never going to happen the fact that we’re dreaming of adult versions highlights just how fashion-forward childrenswear has become.

This news follows other significant announcements in childrenswear: a standalone Zara Baby store opened in Covent Garden last month; Boots Mini Club launched its first celebrity collaboration with Fearne Cotton this week; and Base Childrenswear has expanded its store at Westfield London to three times its previous size.

Over the past 5 years, childrenswear has consistently grown faster than both menswear and womenswear. In 2015 alone, growth was at 6% compared to 4% for adult clothing and the UK market is expected to grow by 13% to over £6bn over the next 5 years (i).

Success appears to be less about price-position and more about design, whether cheaper fast-fashion or premium products.  Sainsbury’s Tu clothing brand has seen continued growth in its functional yet trendy kidswear range, reportedly the 5th largest UK childrenswear retailer by volume, while luxury online retailer FarFetch launched its children’s clothing line in March 2016. Moreover, Childrensalon.com – an online operation which has grown from a store in Tunbridge Wells – is one of the UK’s top 10 fastest growing retailers (YOY sales grew by 51% in 2015) (ii). The contrast between Sainsbury’s own-brand supermarket offer and Farfetch/Childrensalon.com (both stock brands including Burberry, Gucci, Versace and Ralph Lauren) is clear, yet all perform strongly due to their on-trend designs.

childrenswear

Social media has been influential in driving the demand for fashionable childrenswear and stores including Primark and River Island have reacted to ‘mini me’ and ‘twinning’ trends. Celebrity children including Suri Cruise and Harper Beckham are seen as style icons and Blue Ivy, 5 year-old daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, is shortly launching a clothing line (i). Blogs such as What Kate’s Kids Wore ensure that Prince George and Princess Charlotte share their mother’s ability to sell items: John Lewis reported that demand for navy knitted jumpers increased by 69% after Prince George was photographed in a traditional pullover (iii).

There are certainly demographic factors at play too. In the UK, more babies were born in 2011 than during any year since 1972 (iv). Baby-boomers of the 20th Century, now grandparents, are also quick to spend their higher disposable incomes on clothing for grandchildren.

Despite this market growth, Laura Ashley – the classic, quintessentially British brand – no longer sells childrenswear in the UK, while Mothercare has also struggled with bricks and mortar sales in recent years. In response, alongside a focus on digital sales, Mothercare is closing stores and improving its remaining portfolio by introducing soft play areas and cafes to enhance the shopper experience (v).

With FSP’s Trading Gap research helping you understand the opportunity for additional childrenswear space within your retail asset, you can be ahead of this game. FSP has a wealth of experience in delivering insightful strategy reports for some of the UK’s largest retail property owners including L&G, M&G, and Redefine. Please get in touch to find out more about how our Market Intelligence reports could assist you.

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