Loadsarmani

No more generation gap - children are now as label-conscious as their parents. Photographs by Sandro Sodano

A little girl, no older than eight, wearing a pink, frothy dress, is trying on a pair of trainers in the childrenswear department of Wade Smith, the Liverpool designer clothing emporium. The trainers are by Chipie - scaled-down versions of the shoes her older teenage sister might be wearing. The price tag reads pounds 55, and she may well have outgrown them by the end of the summer, but they are pink and shiny and that's all that matters.

As well as a selection of shoes (Kickers) and trainers, Wade Smith Junior also boasts rails of clothing with labels including Polo Ralph Lauren, Moschino and CK and price tags not vastly different from those of the adult versions. There is sportswear, too, with expensive logos such as Reebok, Nike, Ellesse, Lacoste and Adidas.

Meanwhile, a stone's throw away in the Cavern Walks shopping centre, Kids Cavern is selling childrenswear across the price spectrum, from French Connection, through Chipie and Diesel, up to Paul Smith and Armani. Business is brisk, and the owners, Tracy and Danny Shelvey, are looking to expand their premises. Parents are spending between pounds 800 to pounds 1,000 a season, depending on how many children they have. "These are ordinary people," says Tracy Shelvey. "They're not stinking rich." This summer their shop will have turned over pounds 80,000 on Armani alone, and already a customer has left a deposit on a pounds 300 Armani coat for Christmas.

Childrenswear is booming, with designers keen to introduce their labels to the designer clothes buying market of tomorrow. Garry Finnegan, childrenswear buyer at House of Fraser, whose flagship stores in Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester stock Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith and Moschino, says, "It seems to be getter stronger week by week. It's almost frightening." Children are now more brand aware than any generation before them, mainly thanks to their parents who grew up during the Eighties. Although unaccustomed to designer labels when they themselves were kids, they now want their children to have the best - little Jack's wardrobe must be as label-filled as those of his eight-year-old friends.

Whether children enjoy being kitted out like miniature copies of their parents is another matter. On the day of our shoot, Ezra, nine, and Gabriel, 13, were reluctant to wear their Ralph Lauren rugby look. Armani is a name they have heard of, but not one that features in either of their wardrobes. Nevertheless, like most children, they have strong ideas on how they like to dress. "I always wear my shirts buttoned up," insisted Ezra, when it was suggested he open the top button of his Polo Ralph Lauren shirt.

The younger children were less conscious of labels and more interested in clothes that they had seen teenagers wearing. Cleo, eight, and Ella, five, love to dress up, and felt most at home in the printed jersey T- shirts and leggings by Zed, the funky kids' mail-order label for two-to- eight-year-olds. The designer, Denise Zetter, set out to create a range of scaled-down versions of what she herself would wear, but made in brighter colours. The collection's first season this summer includes towelling A-line dresses and seersucker checks, just like many adult ranges. "It's pure fashion with no frills," says Zetter. "Parents are mixing the affordable Zed clothes with more expensive designer ranges. It is like clubwear for kids; children are attracted to the graphic imagery and the fun, no-nonsense designs." Cleo didn't want to part with her star T-shirt and leggings.

British designer and high fashion childrenswear promises to continue growing but we have yet to catch up with the Italians, who have hardly a designer range that doesn't include childrenswear. What better start in life to give your newborn than a Missoni sequined Babygro at 200,000 lire plus (about pounds 100)? Babies, however, do not discriminate between Baby Gap and their Sunday best, and "dry clean only" is not practical advice when your baby has just been sick

Previous page (left to right)

Charnelle, eight, wears: jeans-style jacket, pounds 110, matching skirt, pounds 75, and T-shirt, pounds 45, all by Young Versace, from Versus, 92 Brompton Road, SW3, and Versace Collections, The Italian Centre, 162 Ingram Street, Glasgow; white loafers, pounds 29.99, by Ravel, 184 Oxford Street, W1, and branches.

Keiron, nine, wears: white zip-front shirt, pounds 70, and white Bermuda shorts, pounds 80, both by Young Versace, as before; navy deck shoes, by Kangaroos, from Instep, 45 St John's Wood High Street, NW8 (stockists, 0171-722 7634)

Ella, five, wears: strawberry and blackberry-printed dress, pounds 18.99-pounds 19.99, by ZED, mail order only (0171-435 5322 for free catalogue); floral lace- up sneakers, pounds 12.99, from Ravel, as before

(main picture)

Cleo, eight, wears: red-and-white rugby shirt, pounds 85 (adult version), by Polo Ralph Lauren, 143 New Bond Street, W1; white-and-lilac trainers, Converse Touch-EFX, pounds 19.99-pounds 29.99, at Cobra Sports, Oxford Street, W1, and Shelly's, 42-46 Market Street, Manchester

Above (left to right)

Ella wears: cherry-print dress, pounds 95, with matching bum bag, pounds 14, both by Tartine et Chocolat, 66 South Molton Street, W1 (mail order, 0171-629 7233); red patent leather heart sandals, pounds 26, from Buckle My Shoe, 24 St Christopher's Place, W1

Keiron wears: navy stripe linen jacket, pounds 60, with matching shorts, pounds 37,by Paul Smith; blue micro-check shirt, pounds 75, by Paul Smith Jeans, all from 44 Floral Street, WC2 (stockists nationwide, 0171-379 7133)

Cleo and Ella wear: navy T-shirts with white star, pounds 8.99; lime green leggings, pounds 8.99-pounds 9.99, both by ZED, as before

Daniella, seven, wears: navy cotton A-line button-through skirt, pounds 69, white T-shirt with Armani logo, pounds 25, and beige belted nylon jacket, pounds 125, all by Armani, as before; beige and navy pumps, pounds 17, by Buckle My Shoe, as before

Ella wears: red dress with daisy print, pounds 13.99-pounds 14.99, lime green leggings, as above, both by ZED, as before

William, four, wears: navy-and-white- striped knitted T-shirt, pounds 69, and navy shorts, pounds 59, both by Armani Junior, at 191 Brompton Road SW3 ; check Velcro shoes, pounds 17, by Buckle my Shoe, as before; blue mini-rucksack, pounds 27.50, by Kipling, from Revelation, 170 Piccadilly, W1, and 1 Tunsgate Square, Guildford (other stockists, 0181-345 6888)

Below (left to right)

Hannah, nine, wears: lobster T-shirt, pounds 18, and cartoon floral-print trousers, pounds 29, both by Paul Smith, as before; cream baseball boots, pounds 15.99-pounds 25.99, by Converse, as before.

James, six, wears: guitar-print shirt, pounds 53, and orange linen shorts, pounds 54, both by Paul Smith, as before; black lace-up shoes, pounds 21.99, by Ravel, as before. Daniella wears: pink-and-white-check summer dress, pounds 20, and white socks, pounds 3, both by Gap Kids nationwide (0171-518 6300); white patent loafers, pounds 29.99, by Ravel, as before

William wears: white, flag-print shirt, pounds 46, beige Bermuda shorts, pounds 43, flag-print belt, pounds 22, all by Tartine et Chocolat, as before; ribbed nubuk shoes, pounds 36, from Buckle My Shoe, as before; red socks, pounds 3, from Gap Kids, as before;

Cleo wears: flower-print pinafore dress, pounds 90, and matching, jeans style jacket, pounds 130, by Young Versace, 92 Brompton Road, SW3 ; clear Perspex and black peep-toe slip-on sandals, pounds 26.99, from Ravel, as before

James wears: lobster T-shirt, pounds 18, and goldfish-in-bowl shorts, pounds 39, both by Paul Smith, as before

Gabriel, 13, wears: red-and-white rugby shirt, pounds 68, off-white army style shorts, pounds 54, both by Ralph Lauren Boyswear, 143 New Bond Street, W1; navy deck shoes, pounds 19.99-pounds 22.99, by Kangaroos, as before

Ezra, nine, wears: Madras shirt, pounds 68, and beige army-style shorts, pounds 78, both by Ralph Lauren Boyswear, as before; navy deck shoes, by Kangaroo, as before

Stylist Jo Adams

Stylist's Assistant Jill Wanless

Photographer's assistant Marcus

Grooming Helen Walsh at GSM

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

    Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll Officer - Part Time

    £12047 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Part Time Payroll Officer required for t...

    Recruitment Genius: Event Management and Marketing Admin Support

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot