Caletha Crawford is an expert in the children’s apparel. Former editor in chief of Earnshaw’s magazine—the leading US children’s trade publication, Caletha is a consultant for children’s wear brands as well as a part-time faculty at Parsons The New School for Design. There, she equips students with the fashion industry knowledge needed to become entrepreneur designers. On March 9th, Caletha Crawford gathered industry insiders at the Parson School of design and asked them to speak about what consumers want now.
The panel of industry professionals represented all facets of the market, including recruiting (represented by Polo Ralph Lauren); design (Ralph Lauren, J Crew’s Crewcuts and Tawil Associates); retail (Yoyamart) and sales (Thread showroom and Playtime trade shows). Throughout the hour-long discussion, the panel provided valuable information on how to break into the industry but one of the most interesting aspects of the conversation centered around defining who today’s customer is and discussing how she ultimately determines what ends up in stores:
· The economic outlook is improving, but consumers are still demanding value. “In Europe, we all have the feeling that we’re working more for less so you have the feeling that you have to give more to people. Everyone’s asking for more these days.” — Sebastien de Hutten, event director for Playtime, a juvenile products trade show with editions in Paris, Tokyo and New York
· The market is evolving, incorporating more contemporary styling into this age group—as a result a new customer is emerging for tween clothes: Moms! “People are a lot less conservative than they used to be, especially at the luxe level. At mid and mass, things tend to be more traditional.” —Amy Pang, design director for 7 for All Mankind Kids at New York-based Tawil Associates
· Grandmothers continue to be the No. 1 consumers to court, especially in the smallest sizes. —“She’s got a lot of income and a lot of time to fill.” —Ashleigh Crawford, vice president of children’s design at Ralph Lauren
· The woman who purchases high-end better goods for herself buys the same level of goods for her children. “If mom isn’t going to wear a rayon sweater, she has the mentality that my kid’s not going to wear it so it justifies buying $200 Loro Piana cashmere for their kid.” —Michelle Copelman, accessories designer and brand buyer at Crewcuts
· There’s a market for everything from $795 jackets to $20 T-shirts and from preppy to boho, it’s just up to retailers to know their customers and buy accordingly. “It’s like music. Anything goes,” stated Fazio. “You can mix hip hop and rock these days. You can mix California laid-back with European collections and Crewcuts accessories with your Ralph Lauren riding boots.” — Terra Fazio, owner of the Thread Showroom in New York
View the event in its entirety on YouTube
Caletha Crawford consults with designers to help them better understand the industry, communicate their positioning through branding and public relations, and grow their market share. Her contacts within the industry span independent start-ups to multimillion-dollar design firms. She’s a regular at domestic and international trade shows and market events. Learn more at calethacrawford.com.