October 13, 2012 in Washington Voices

Childhood’s new threat: tot couture

By The Spokesman-Review
 

My fashion itch is scratching.

Perhaps this itch is from bygone years when the annual shopping for school clothes kicked in, or perhaps my wardrobe’s in need of a boost. Whatever it is, the autumn jaunt to the downtown Macy’s sixth floor clearance center is about to begin.

It takes time to wade through the racks but when I can walk out with a bag full of clothes sporting such designer names as I.N.C., Ralph Lauren and Macy’s Style & Co. label for $50, life is good.

But wait a Burberry minute. According to an online article in Huffington Post (“Designer Kids Clothes Sparking Huge Increase in Household Spending”), there’s a new fashion fiend on the horizon making my discounted designer duds look passé in comparison to today’s trendy tykes.

In fact, my frugality is a faux pas when compared to these 3-year-old fashionistas whose summer wardrobes alone top $10,000. Yes, 3-year-olds. Yes, $10,000. By the time the tags are sprung and clothes hung, these tykes have outgrown them. And that’s just summer. What about fall, winter and spring? At $10,000 a pop that’s $40,000 a year for clothes … for a kid!

I’m having a Neiman Marcus meltdown just thinking about it.

Out of the way mud pies, scoot over Weebles that wobble, these childhood frivolities have no place in a trendy tyke’s agenda. Today, $750 Gucci backpacks, $190 Dolce & Gabbana plaid shirts, $400 shoes and $500 dresses command center stage.

Big name designers have jumped on the bandwagon catering to affluent parents, but as with everything that seems way over the top, I can’t help but question the “what” behind all this fashion hoopla.

What do these little people have to shoot for as they enter adolescence and adulthood when everything’s been given to them during tyke-dom? Above all I wonder what these parents must be thinking.

“I dress my daughter exactly the way I dress myself,” the article quoted one mom as saying. “They’re a walking billboard of you. They’re a reflection of who you are …,” another mom said, and besides, buying $200 Gucci sneakers makes her kids happy.

Wow. Ego personified to the power of 10.

In 2002 Abercrombie & Fitch created an uproar by marketing thong underwear for children. And just when we thought A&F’s shock-marketing had been zapped a final jolt, in 2011 they introduced padded push-up bras for 7-year-olds who, incidentally, have nothing to push up.

Stop the world of Dior, I want to get off.

Children should be able to enjoy childhood. But more and more they’re pushed into the adult world before they’re ready and without good reason. My fondest wish for all kids, no matter what walk of life, is that there continues to be a time and place for everything under the heavens including a time for them to laugh, to grow, to enjoy, to play, to understand.

And, above all, a time for kids to be kids.

Voices correspondent Sandra Babcock can be reached by email at Sandi30@comcast.net. Previous columns are available at spokesman.com/ columnists/.

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