Rose-printed chocolate brown leggings tucked into distressed leather buckled brown boots and paired with an amethyst purple tunic-shaped sweater - a perfect ensemble for tooling around town at the weekend. Shame it's for six-year-olds. The days of little girls raiding their mothers' wardrobes to play dress-up seem well behind us because today's youngsters seem to have far more glamorous things in their own. Children's fashion - especially that of the upmarket, designer-label variety - is a growing trend. Major designers - among them Stella McCartney, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Juicy Couture and Phillip Lim - have all debuted fashion collections for the pre-pubescent set. The rationale: if parents can afford to wear stylish clothes, so should their kids. And even if parents are holding back on their own shopping sprees, their offspring should still be fabulously turned out. 'I buy my year-old niece more clothes than I buy for myself,' says Denise Ho, a Hong Kong fashion stylist who is soon to launch a children's line under the name A for Apple. 'Parents these days have the desire to look for better clothes for their children; there just seems to be this trend going on,' Ho says. Industry figures would seem to substantiate that. According to just-style.com, a British-based industry research and analysis company, children's wear retail sales in the top 10 global markets - including the US and Britain - are estimated to grow between 6 per cent and 7 per cent annually. By 2012, the market should be worth more than US$131 billion. Hong Kong appears to be a buoyant market. Chic offerings from Baby Dior and D&G Junior rival their more grown-up counterparts, while multi-brand stores dedicated to children's clothes are doing a brisk trade. The reason for this, according to fashion industry insiders, is that sophisticated parents don't want their children just to look cute. Filling their children's wardrobes with edgy and interesting clothes that have their own personality will help a child develop their sense of style early on, they believe. Bonnie Lam, a buyer at Buckle My Shoe, a children's wear boutique that is part of Seibu and that sells lines such as Moschino, Diesel and John Galliano, agrees. 'Parents do not want their kids to dress like a princess or prince any more; they want them to be fashionable and develop their own character through their dress code,' she says. 'Fashion is something you can express your own message through, and so the major designers want to develop this idea with kids.' Current offerings include denim skirts with drawstring waists, faux fur-lined quilted parkas in brilliant purple and metallic silver boots - all laid out in ensembles that look ready for the catwalk. As one would expect, dressing a child fashionably can be costly, with prices for designer childrenswear ranging beyond HK$6,000. Often, designer childrenswear is on sale close to the women's section, as is the case with the Kids by Phillip Lim collection at Lane Crawford, which also sells at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. Even single-label stores are growing. Comme Ca Kids, a Japanese brand of childrenswear, now has four free-standing stores in Hong Kong, offering edgy looks in the HK$300 to HK$1,000 price range. 'We are pleased that there are more choices in the kids' wear market, with most of the famous designers willing to join this interesting business,' says company spokeswoman Mabel Chan. 'That means kids' wear is more valuable.' At Comme Ca Kids, the focus is on basic, trendy, comfortable and quality pieces, often in shades of grey, elements that Chan says parents are willing to spend more than the usual for. As with so many other aspects of pop culture, much of the fresh focus on children's fashion was spurred by celebrities and their own offspring; among them, Suri Cruise, daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, as well as the children of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The celebrity factor has influenced many young, jet-setting, style-savvy parents who no longer think children's clothes start and end with teddy-bear emblazoned rompers. Some designers are starting to offer children's versions of their adult lines: Juicy Couture offers children's sizes of its sparkly pink velour tracksuits and faux fur coats in silver-shot pink; Little Marc Jacobs uses the designer's signature fabrications and silhouettes, hence a three-quarter length pure silk dress with draped ruffle details on the front. 'Parents are willing to [spend] a lot on their kids, but they will [do so] in a wise way,' says Lam. 'They will buy an expensive outfit for their children if the quality of the product is good and it's very special.' An example is Step 2 sandals with real Swarovski crystals that cost about HK$2,000, or a Moncler down jacket at more than HK$6,000. These items are not the sorts of things to leave behind in the sandpit. Ho, whose line will be in the shops in the spring, says she wants to focus on quality but offer more individual clothes, such as bomber and biker jackets designed to be worn over an organic cotton shirt. 'It's nothing too cute,' she says. The biker jackets resemble miniature hoodies, but feature touches such as gunmetal snaps. Ho says she was inspired to create the jacket - a highlight of her debut collection - based on a Balenciaga garment that hangs in her wardrobe. 'For me, it's been about taking adult clothes and shrinking them, and about approaching kids' wear differently,' she says. 'It's no longer about being cute. It's about being a cool kid.'