Major brands join the party

Men's and women's runway collections open route to infants, toddlers and teens, writes Andrea LI

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 October, 2012, 2:43pm

Upscale designers are tapping the children's market in a big way, drawing on their men's and women's runway collections for inspiration and, in growing numbers, are creating mini-me and capsule collections for infants, toddlers and teens.

Taking children's wear to the next level is the classic British brand Burberry, which has always based its line on its adult Prorsum range.

In its Autumn 2012 collection, British designer Christopher Bailey has retained the brand's soft, romantic, English look to create a young, contemporary collection using Burberry's iconic gabardine, wool, brushed houndstooth check, striped silk, gauze, tonic technical taffeta and cashmere. The result: a cute collection of patterned tees, mini-parkas, quilted outerwear for boys and trench coats and voluminous skirts for girls.

Fellow Briton Stella McCartney offers an equally stunning range, reflecting her brand's signature modern aesthetic and ethical values.

The new collection features McCartney's muted colour palette alongside vibrant patch prints and bold colours in contrasting shades such as forest green, boat blue and bubblegum pink.

For girls, there is the see-through dotted rain mackintosh, silk party tea dresses, puffer jackets and hooded coats with removable fluffy lining; and for boys, a reversible bomber jacket with wolf print on the back, patterned jumpers and a variety of trousers in different colours and styles.

Highlights of the collection include McCartney's mini-me pieces that have been adapted from her main collection, including the Fran coat in wool with a printed lining, the Penny diamond knit dress and the misty dress in tulle and embroidered spots.

There is also a variety of snug and cuddly all-in-ones for infants, including the Wiggles hooded snowsuit and the military-inspired Jagger, and cotton and cashmere knitted bunny pieces.

"I get inspired by different things," McCartney says. "I look at my upbringing and memories as a child and incorporate that [in]to some of the pieces.

"I also look at the work we are doing for the ready-to-wear collection and try to translate some elements into the children's range that would make sense, so that there is a good connection between the two."

Inspired by its heritage and high quality fabrics, French couture house Dior's children's collection is just as appealing. The season's silhouettes have been constructed around volume and iconic shapes in the form of tailored jackets and knitwear for boys, and a stunning range of pleated dresses and voluminous cotton/tulle miniskirts for girls.

The collection uses plush materials such as cotton satin, silk satin and velvet to accentuate its striking red-check print, the romantic floral patterns and other feminine reinterpretations of Dior's classic styles.

Meanwhile, a sense of adventure underpins the Armani Junior Boy's Explorer theme, translating into padded and quilted outwear with fur details, little bomber jackets, and low-crotch trousers.

The range delicately balances the need to be stylish yet comfortable, versatile yet functional, and always high quality.

The adventure theme also underscores the Armani Junior Girl collection. Girls will find warm and cosy down jackets, dresses with flounces, puffball skirts, jodhpurs and shirts with ruffles and bows, and functional lasered eco-leather jackets, leather and suede boots, down jackets and a wool cloth coat with a belted waist. For those looking for something more classic, the all-American designer Ralph Lauren has reworked his trademark style into his latest winter collection.

He has presented a season of authentic re-imagined preppy classics for back to school and special occasions.

Drawing on sporty vintage varsity and feminine university chic, the collection features luxurious fabrics, chic patterns and new finishing touches in timeless neutrals and rich autumn hues. Pieces include knit blazers, long-sleeve graphic T-shirts and classic down jackets for boys, and skinny corduroy trousers, v-neck boyfriend cardigans and classic tartan duffle coats for girls. The latest collection has been inspired by the RL Gang storybook, Show and Tell for Back to School. Launched in spring last year, the RL Gang is an e-platform storybook, showcasing the brand's latest collections. Parents and children can enjoy the virtual story and shop the collection based on their favourite characters' looks.

The storybook unveils each character's personality through their individual sense of style by showcasing new looks from the season's collection. In Hong Kong, the book is available in hard copy at all stores.

Tommy Hilfiger offers another all-American option. The theme of day tripping has inspired key pieces in this latest season, celebrating quintessential American family fun in the form of checked flannel shirts and jeans, jogging pants, with ultrapreppy college cardigans featuring eye-catching details, such as elbow patches, towelling badges, paisley and university stripes for boys, and silk floral dresses paired with heavy knit cardigans, leggings and boots, and classic woollen skirts, leggings and blazers for girls.