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Kids Fashion Week - It's Too Much Isn't It?

By - 4th April 2013

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by Alison Triffett* As a personal stylist I have always taken great pleasure in making things look beautiful. Don’t stand in my way when I’m on a roll! I will style everything from everyday people to celebrities, TV commercials to photographs, food to interiors. I also admit doing it when my own two children were too small to stop me   have their own say. My poor little daughter wore a huge, floppy navy-blue bow headband almost from day one – everyone wondered how I managed to get her to keep it on, but truth be known, to her that bow had probably come to feel like a normal part of her anatomy! I mean, surely back in the early nineties all babies had bows growing out of their heads, didn’t they? I’m also quite certain that my poor son felt somewhat vulnerable and exposed when not wearing his my treasured little baseball caps (yes, even that multi-coloured one with the propeller on top!).

I love to see anyone well-dressed – adult or child – but when it comes to Kids Fashion Week (yes folks, there really is such a thing!) are we taking things just a little too far? How much of it is needless pressure and how much of it is harmless fun? Oh where do I begin!

I disagree with child models wearing makeup and being styled to within an inch of adulthood. I don’t think children should be made to look like mini-adults or to represent adult aspirations for wealth, glamour and beauty. It doesn’t just apply to designer labels and is also not reserved for the wealthy or celeb parents using their children as fashion accessories. I’ve seen too many high-street catalogue shoots where the fashions are really just scaled down versions of what their mums would be wearing. Think peplums on 8 year olds; leather-look leggings; sequins and studs. The list goes on (see below).

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Kids fashion should be fun and free.  Kids should look like kids – Lord knows there’s only a short window where they can just be themselves and dress how they want to (or how their parents let them want them to!). Before too long, the seemingly inevitable insecurities of the teenage years will rear their ugly head with concerns about weight, body shape, labels and  fitting in/finding their tribe. Why bring it on any sooner? Why not use the fashion industry to fight those very issues instead?

As Daily Life Writer, Candice Chung wrote recently, “Despite the continued growth of the $32 billion kids apparel industry (of which designer brands are a mere “garnish”, children and fashion have remained awkward bedfellows. The overwhelming feeling is that it’s wrong to taint young minds with a decidedly adult preoccupation. Of course, when it comes to the high-end goods, there is also a very valid question of “Does any 3-year-old really need a $722 Roberto Cavalli party dress?

Predictably, the children’s Fashion Week attracted its fair share of criticisms. According to a Today.com poll, 85% of people who voted thought that the Fashion Week was 'inappropriate and sends the wrong message', while over at Daily Beast, writer Tom Skyes pointed out: 'Does the rise of mini-me kid fashion represent a threat to our kid’s innocence, too much pressure to grow up too young, or is high fashion for kids simply an aberration of interest only to a limited class of 1 percenters?'."

I see no harm in parents getting great enjoyment out of buying cute outfits for their children but there is definitely a line. (In fact, I’m sure there may even be some who think I crossed it when I placed that helicopter hat on my son’s head!) But what is the difference between a kid’s fashion shoot for a catalogue and Kid’s Fashion week? A lot…

* Alison Triffett is a personal stylist and can be found at StyleCounselOnlineAlison has worked in the Image Industry most of her life, in advertising, modelling & TV Production.  (Editor's note: she's also very good at drawing - be warned if you challenge her to a game of 'Draw Something' on your smartphone.)

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