Back to School in Style
The Kid’s Wear Market is Coming of Age
In the MENA region, children today really are spoilt for choice when it comes to fashion
As you walk through the entrance and into Bloomingdales at The Dubai Mall, you cannot help but notice the large posters in their windows announcing the arrival of kids’ clothing brand Generation Peace. The use of this prime fashion estate for a homegrown kids’ wear brand is a sign of how this category has captured the industry’s attention. Local fashion creators are ensuring that parents who are preparing to, finally, take their kids back to school can do so in style.
THYM x Nour Arida
Generation Peace is co-founded by Beirut-based label THYM’s Rebecca Zaatar and fashion influencer and mother of a five-year-old girl, Nour Arida. Says Zaatar, “It was Nour’s idea to create this brand. It was her dream for a while, and we have been friends since we were kids.”
As someone who designs both women’s and kids’ wear, Zaatar points out that creating clothes for children can require more skill, “It is very different, but yet so similar. The main difference is in sizing, materials and practicality.” She hopes that Generation Peace’s clothes are practical, yet at the same time, make children feel empowered. The label, which is itself only a few months old, caters for children from birth to 12 years old.
Zaatar is not the only women’s wear designer to branch out into children’s wear. Lebanese fashion designer Jessica Khoueiri-Achkar, of ready to wear label JESSICA K, started Little Bluffers, a fashion label for urban kids from 0 to 8 years, after having her second child. Khoueiri Achkar felt there was a need for a label that “represents my mischievous kids and what I envision as cool, comfortable kids’ wear”. It is very important for children’s wear labels to have their unique take on fashion to stand out in the marketplace, according to Achkar.
Says the designer, “It is hard as there aren’t as many retail selling points as for women’s wear – and budgets for wholesalers are not as big for new brands.” On the plus side, kids’ wear has actually proven to be more pandemic-proof than women’s clothing. “There is always demand for kids’ wear as they grow in a matter of months and need to change their wardrobe. During the pandemic, we felt the priority of families shifted more towards their children and less on themselves,” says the designer.
Little Fig Leaf
It was the pandemic that made Abu Dhabi-based Amna Alsuwaidi start her brand “Little Fig Leaf”. She noticed that mothers today are looking for homegrown brands and has chosen to use mainly organic cotton designs that include many handmade details. While she has an artisanal approach, she kept pricing in mind, “When things are too expensive or too fancy for children, they wouldn’t be able to wear them all the time. Children are growing, so parents need to get them new clothes every time they grow.” Despite remaining affordable, you also need to have a range of styles, says Alsuwaidi, “No matter how many children you have, every time they grow, you get excited to see them wear something new that they are happy for.”
The need for fashionable, contemporary kids’ wear is clear to see, but there’s also a market for more traditional outfits and this is where Little Kandora. The brand makes traditional Emirati clothing that has a global outlook for children up to the age of six.
Founded in 2018, Little Kandora wants to tell the world that the Kandora and Talli are pieces that work in contemporary, day-to-day life, no matter what age you are, or where you live. Says co-founder, Fatima Dashti, “We aspire to move from the local market to a global one to let everyone know about Emirati Kandora in a cute way.” They even make special gifting boxes, which make for perfect giveaways when you travel abroad.
With many Arab creators now realizing the potential and looking at the market for kids’ wear, children today really are spoilt for choice when it comes to fashion.