Build Your Business:

Childrenswear Makes Magic

While the 'mini-me' trend continues, other developments add flair to clothing in the kids and teens/tweens niches.

By Jennifer Morrell, Contributing Writer

Fashionable, flowy styles in different fabric blends and vintage colors are popular with teens and tweens.

August 21, 2017

It can be argued that trends don’t bob and weave in any other industry segments as frequently as in the childrenswear and teens/tweens apparel categories. It’s vital that manufacturers stay on top, if not ahead, of developments in these niches annually to capitalize on what customers in these demographics want.

Some trends are impossible to ignore. For example, the “mini-me” look is overwhelmingly strong and manufacturers are answering the call. “We capitalize on the mini-me approach with our collections,” says Kristin Slinn, designer/merchandiser and creative marketing manager for LAT Apparel. “LAT’s collections are styles that are available in sizing categories from infant newborn to adult [6XL]. Parents are loving a shrunken-down version of the styles that they are finding appealing for themselves.”

This leads to a selection of colors that goes beyond the basic primary set. Amit Gupta, CEO of MONAG Apparel, says reflecting adult trends with vibrant colors adds to the youthful spirit.

“The comfortable, sporty-style tees for boys and flowy tees for girls seems to be the trend this year for children, mirroring the adult fashion,” he says. “The styles for kids are now available in not only bright, vintage colors, but also in different blends of fabrics.”

LAT offers basics with a fashion twist via the baseball and football tees in its Game Day Collection. Slinn says these tees take adult styling and apply it all the way down to infant sizes.

“This way, the little ones can begin cheering on their families’ favorite teams as the newest fan to the club,” she says.

Within the past five years, Kavio!’s children’s division has grown substantially, says Ivy Mai, the company’s marketing associate. “Details range from fun, fringy hemlines and high-low tops to baseball raglan styles that were originally made for adults,” she says. “The children of today are more savvy and interested in what their older siblings and parents are wearing.”

Fabric Shifts
Another definitive trend driver in childrenswear and teen/tween apparel is fabric. Though a shift to heavier-weight fabric is surfacing, consumers still prefer the nice hand feel of combed, ring-spun cotton. Whereas lightweight fabrics have been front-and-center for several years, mid- and heavyweight fabrics have a dominant place in the market.

“We recently launched our Classic Collection, which is [made of] 5.5-ounce, 100% combed, ring-spun cotton with specially engineered Comfort Stretch fabric,” Slinn says. “This is a collection that runs from infant to adult. It allows for a little bit more coverage, long-lasting durability and an amazing drape that makes for a premium [wearing] experience.”

Gupta sees a variety of fabrics in different blends and vintage colors in both categories. “The sportswear and flowy styles for teens/tweens have introduced the cotton/polyester blends,” he says. “Compared to previous years, [the] popularity of cotton/polyester [blends] in childrenswear has allowed designers to create more adult-influenced styles, which are also comfortable and fun.”

Trends to Monitor
MONAG’s Gupta says apparel decorators should take seriously the “non-traditional” styles, as they will appear more frequently and attract customers. “Decorators should continue to offer a wide selection of styles, fabrics and colors in this growing market,” he says.

And hear this: Gone are the days of only black or white T-shirts. Now, consumers prefer on-trend, retail-inspired color palettes. “[Buyers] are wanting exciting colors like chili, papaya, key lime and hot pink,” Slinn says. “[This development] is adding some variety and newness in merchandising.”

While Kavio! had huge success last year with its fringe dresses and youth raglans, Mai says this year’s newest hit is an asymmetrical side-fringe tank. “It is really one of our best sellers for both our tweens and childrenswear divisions,” she says. “Following its adult version, the tank features side slits with cascading side fringes, cut with an asymmetrical hem.”

If you never thought safety would be a buzzword in childrenswear and teen/tweens apparel, think again. Slinn says consumers are becoming more concerned with garment testing to ensure their young wearers are free from harm.

“They want to make sure that their little ones look great, feel great and that they are safe,” she says. “We go to great lengths to make sure that all of our products are tested properly and manufactured under safe and compliant conditions.”

Mai says apparel decorators should do their homework and due diligence to confirm compliance with government safety standards when it comes to childrenswear.

“With the demand for childrenswear growing, apparel decorators should consider purchasing from experienced and established manufacturers that conduct [Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)] compliance tests to ensure their children’s garments are safe and non-hazardous,” she says. “At Kavio!, we take the CPSC testing very seriously.

“All our products go through rigorous tests to ensure that they are safe and compliant,” she adds. “They are tested every year from accredited laboratories and results are updated frequently on our website.”

More in Store
Industry experts agree that the demand for smaller sizes will continue to grow as the childrenswear and teen/tween categories expand. Styles will continue to mimic those of adult-sized garments, and the fabrics and colors will remain in fashion-forward mode.

“The children’s [category] has gone full-throttle fashion forward,” Mai says. “Everything that we’ve brought in ‘mini’ sizes has done impressively well, and we’ve gotten higher demands for savvy and trendier looks, away from the traditional basic cotton tee.”

Gupta agrees: “These categories have been growing tremendously and are now more competitive in [the] marketplace than ever,” he says. “The influence of adult fashion, a wide range of color palettes and a variety of fabrics have provided both the decorators and customers with selection that was limited before.”

Jennifer Morrell is an award-winning writer who has written for a number of national consumer and trade publications. For more information or to comment on this article, email Jennifer at