As the growth in children’s clothing sales outpaces that of adults, brands are expanding streetwear styles for toddlers.
In 2021, hip adult streetwear brands like Fear of God, Off White, and Ssence all launched kidswear for the first time. Meanwhile, among traditional kidswear retailers, the streetwear aesthetic was increasingly prioritized. OshKosh B’gosh, for example, has teamed up with Kith for a “selection of workwear silhouettes reinterpreted through Kith’s lens.” And, on streetwear resale platform StockX, resales of kids’ streetwear and sneakers were up 150% year-over-year, outpacing adult growth.
Comfortable, athletic styles are nothing new in children’s clothing, which often prioritizes durability and mobility. Parents, however, are now more and more willing to buy into the streetwear hype cycle limited-edition hoodies over $100 for their kids. In turn, brands are looking at a new opportunity to launch trendy kids’ styles at higher price points, while embracing the limited-edition marketing and product drop cycle of once-adults-only streetwear brands. .
Streetwear price tags for children’s clothing
In April last year, Fear of God Essentials, the athleisure sub-brand of Fear of God, launched its first line for children. Kids’ versions of the brand’s hoodies, sweatpants and t-shirts have retained FOG Essential’s minimalist, genderless aesthetic. The collection sold out quickly and is now being resold “about 70% above retail price” at StockX, said Jessie Einhorn, the resale platform’s senior economist.
“When you see such a price premium, it means there is more demand than there is supply,” Einhorn said. “If you look at the hierarchy of product types that grow faster, as men’s sizes go up, women’s sizes go up even faster than men’s. And then the smaller sizes – toddler and preschool sizes – grow even faster than both.
The broader children’s clothing market is worth around $40 billion in the United States, according to Mordor Intelligence. Moreover, according to Euromonitor, the sector is growing faster than both men’s and women’s clothing.
In some ways, clothing brands have embraced children’s streetwear since streetwear was first developed in the 80s and 90s. GapKids, for example, has been selling children’s casual jeans and t-shirts since 1986. However, children’s streetwear in 2022 often has a higher price tag.
The most expensive and best-selling children’s product at StockX — defined as items with more than 50 sales — is a sunglasses collaboration between Kaws and SD that averages close to $500 on resale. A Bape backpack, another top-selling product, would cost parents around $315. One color of a FOG Essentials kids’ hoodie, meanwhile, is over 230% above retail price at around $150. In contrast, a kids’ hoodie at GapKids costs around $30, while kids’ sunglasses at Oshkosh B’Gosh can be found for as little as $10.
Einhorn thinks the rise of the kids’ version of hype culture was somewhat natural, given the maturation of the streetwear industry — and the designers who fuel it. “This whole culture was born in the ’80s…and people who grew up watching Michael Jordan play, they’re all aging into a demographic that has kids,” Einhorn said. “Whether it’s Yeezy or The Hundreds or Fear of God, designers themselves reach that middle age where they think about what their kids want to wear.”
New marketing opportunities
The rise of children’s streetwear has also provided a new opportunity for retailers to try new marketing and product launch strategies.
On the children’s clothing subscription platform Dopple, for example, the rise of neutral and baggy clothing has allowed the company to send the same products to boys and girls.
Dopple CEO Chao Wang said the gender-neutral cut is becoming increasingly popular with parents. “When we first launched the brand…it was parents with boys who wanted that streetwear look,” Wang said. “Now it’s much closer to 50/50.”
Alongside Dopple, a wide variety of big-box retailers launched gender-neutral kids’ styles last year, including JC Penney and PacSun. PacSun’s line, in particular, featured silhouettes like cargo pants and oversized tees with streetwear-inspired text and color graphics.
Additionally, clothing brands are also testing new types of product launch strategies for kid-focused lines. A decade ago, maybe only sneakerheads would line up for Supreme’s latest launch. However, a 2021 Pymnts and ScaleFast survey of over 2,000 people found that 43% of customers had tried a product drop, and 76% of those customers liked the model.
In turn, shoe brands like Nike, Reebok, Crocs, Puma and Adidas have all released limited-edition kids’ styles or colors to generate buzz and encourage additional purchases beyond basic shoe needs.
Nike, for example, released a Spongebob-themed Kyrie collection in kids’ sizes while Reebok teamed up with Peppa Pig for cartoon-branded sneakers. Additionally, the limited colorways of Nike’s Dunk and Jordan styles, “account for about 90% of top-selling kids’ sneakers,” Einhorn said.
Wang is somewhat skeptical of children’s knowledge or affection for the streetwear space. “Kids don’t care,” Wang said. Tweens or teens may care about the hype, she added, but kids likely prioritize comfort or style instead.
But maybe that doesn’t matter. Parents – those who have access to the funds to purchase these kids’ styles – are increasingly interested in doing so.
“There’s a strong correlation between what people buy for themselves and what people buy for children,” Einhorn said. “I think a lot of that is because parents are buying for their kids.”