Wednesday, May 03, 2006

No time for childhood

As you may have noticed, there's plenty of trends that bother me. But few rankle this prematurely old soul more than marketing product to kids.

Thirteen years ago, Zoe Shapiro saw the need for "Mini Me" styles blossom. She and her mother, Kathie, opened the 98% Angel children's boutique in an exclusive section of Malibu, Calif. Shapiro considers herself an industry pioneer: "When I decided to start this business, I had no one's example to follow.

"The demand was definitely there," she said. "Where we live, it's very important for your children to look the best they can. The kids here want to mimic the way their parents dress, and the parents like it too."

Along with her own private label, the store carries more than 50 designer brands, including La Perla, Ugg, Diesel and Sonia Rykiel. Not all the stores' clients qualify as celebrities, but they crave the same merchandise.

"People see celebrities and want their lifestyles," she said. "And they want their kids to dress the part."

And so we create a new generation of celebrity worshipping, materialistic product hounds. Just like Mom and Dad.

Back in my day (groan), we dressed like ragamuffins (pardon the Mr. Burns terminology), and we liked it, dadgumit! Polo, IZOD, or Britannia Jeans -- remember those -- didn't enter my conciousness until middle school. There was no Gap for Kids, or Baby Prada -- don't laugh ... it's coming soon, I guarantee it.

But hey, there's money to be made, and plenty of idiot parents out there, so why not market your wares to toddlers?

A line of $20 to $24 silk-screened onesies and tees from Tampa-based www.babyrockapparel.com offers such messages as "What Happens in Preschool Stays in Preschool," "Boob Man" and "My Mom Rocks."

In a similar vein, San Francisco-based Wry Baby sells casual tops with slogans like "I Might Barf," "I Eat Dirt" and "84 Percent Dirty, 16 Percent Filthy" for $16 to $22 each through the www.wrybaby.com Web site.

Baby Rock Apparel co-founder Kim Strayer started the company two years ago with her husband, Ryan, because shopping for their first son, Conley, was no fun.

"We weren't finding the things we really wanted to dress him in, so we came up with some designs of our own. We just wanted to give him more attitude and individuality than what was out there with all the little bears and duckies."

Don't cha wish your preschooler was a freak like mine?

3 comments:

  1. But people buy this stuff.............
    The age old saga of supply and demand.

    There would be no drugs in this country if there was no demand.

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  2. You're right ... and people are stupid.

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  3. The epidemic of stupidity is absolutely terrifying.

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