Childrenswear fashion SS22 as Stella McCartney and Balmain lead the way to streetwise summer cool

From Stella McCartney and Balmain at Harvey Nichols Leeds to High Street retailers, supermarkets and resale ventures, fashion brands are exploring the opportunities of the childrenswear market, Stephanie Smith takes a look at the trends.

Parents will always want to buy cute clothes for their children. So will doting grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends of the family. And, as children grow out of their clothing quickly, little ones are the gifts that keep on giving to childrenswear retailers, from babyhood to teens.

Small wonder, then, that childrenswear is now seen as the place to be by international designer brands, with many now offering collections for little ones. Michael Kors has just announced its first foray into children’s clothing, in partnership with French luxury group Children Worldwide Fashion offering sport-chic activewear and accessories for girls aged four to 14.

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Childrenswear trends for SS22 range from the joyous to the serious-minded mini-me looks. There is bold colour-blocking at Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and Ralph Lauren, and deckchair stripes everywhere, plus lots of striking florals. To balance, a super-cool neutral palette featuring the classic trench coat is the way to go, with our very own Burberry, which makes its trenches in Yorkshire, leading the way. Look out also for cartoon motifs and strawberries (big at Stella McCartney). “Spring Summer ’22 may be the most exciting season yet for kidswear,” says Harvey Nichols childrenswear buyer Melissa Fletcher. “Events are streaming back into our calendars, summer holidays are on the horizon and the feeling of optimism after two years of uncertainty means our Leeds store is bursting with the best designer brand mix ready for every occasion.

Balmain Kids neon pink stretch wool blazer, from £660; shorts, from £330, at Harvey Nichols Leeds.

“Gucci and Givenchy have paved the way as the must-haves for transitional dressing, with Burberry and Chloe releasing their best collections yet for holiday season and weekend fun.

“Wedding guest outfits are incredibly popular at the moment, with Polo Ralph Lauren and Needle and Thread offering the perfect mini-me looks, one of the biggest trends in kidswear that we don’t see slowing down any time soon.

“Stone Island and CP Company have made the mini-me trend so easy to buy into for the season, with their pastel colour palettes and innovative takes on the iconic logos that every dad knows and loves.”

Also at Harvey Nichols, streetwear-inspired label House of Basicz is a minimalist and gender-neutral collection designed using earthy tones and comfortable fits that allow children to play while mirroring a grown-up, urban-cool aesthetic.

Stella McCartney Kids blue strawberry stretch-denim jeans, £95; bag, £85; pink T-shirt, £55; shorts, £65; boysl Stone Island yellow jacket, from £235; tie-dye sweatshirt, from £175; shorts, from £140. All at Harvey Nichols Leeds.

Sustainable is a major fashion watchword that somehow seems to apply even more keenly to childrenswear than it does to grown-up clothes. George at Asda has partnered with Animal Planet, a Warner Bros Discovery brand, on a new range of children’s clothing made from responsibly sourced materials and with slogans to encourage kids to connect with the planet and animals.

Portofino Kids is a UK family-run business that offers a curated collection of international fashion brands for children and young adults. Bethany Banks, head of boyswear designer brands, says SS22 boys collections are bringing lots of pastel colours plus pops of bright blues and orange. “Styling and design were heavily influenced from ongoing trends such a utility and asymmetric colour blocking,” she adds. “Graphics have been heavily used including collegiate and skate styling along with heavily laundered and acid washes to give an authentic feel to the fabric at US Polo Assn, Lyle & Scott and Franklin & Marshall.”

Head of girlswear designer brands Katie Mason adds that girls’ ranges are offering fresh summery prints including florals, tie dyes and stripes. “One of our key trends is the reinvented tie-dye,” she says. “We capture this in many creative ways through colour, patterns and shapes across the different brands.”

Whistles is the place to go for easy-smart childrenswear, and it has some fantastic mini me options, including a girls’ pastel purple co-ordinating outfit teaming cropped trousers and overshirt – perfect for a wedding guest look.

Animal Planet collection romper, from £12; sandals, £7; cap £9; T-shirt from £4; shorts from £5; trainers, £9, all from George at Asda.

Unsurprisingly, childrenswear resale is growing quickly, and might well offer affordable, recyclable ways to afford designer and high-quality items. Marks & Spencer recently announced a partnership with children’s resale company Dotte, which will offer customers who sell their outgrown M&S childrenswear a £5 voucher towards their next £25 online shop.

Earlier this year, childrenswear rental platform the Little Loop secured £140,000 on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, an investment that it will use to expand.

A study by Dotte found that an estimated 183 million pieces of outgrown children’s clothing go into landfill in the UK every year, so clearly recycling children’s clothes is not just a good idea, it’s an essential one, and of course, it is something that happens quite naturally anyway, in the form of hand-me-downs to younger siblings and friends.

But with the growth of designer and high-end children’s collections, rental and resale options are set to become more common, and a cost-effective way to make sure your little ones are fashionably dressed. Just keep them away from blackcurrant juice and tomato sauce.

Flo trousers, £32, and overshirt, £40, at Whistles.

Read more: Country wear

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House of Basicz short sleeve sweatshirt, £45;leggings, £45; tees, from £35; shorts, from £30, all at Harvey Nichols Leeds.
Striped multicolour dress, from £12 at Marks & Spencer.
Hoodie, from £45,from Lyle & Scott at Portofinokids.com.
Hoodie, £40, and coat, from a selection by US Polo ASSN at Portofinokids.com.