Meet the 11-year-old with designs on fashion fame

A 'brat pack' of tweens is tapping into a lucrative market with the help of social networking sites and influential blogs

She can't quite spell her own name yet, but that hasn't stopped 11-year-old Cecilia Cassini from designing clothes and accessories for celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Kelly Osbourne and Heidi Klum. While the Los Angeles tween may seem like a child prodigy, she is actually one of the growing "brat pack" of influential – if immature – bloggers and designers dominating the fashion scene.

Diminutive designer Cecilia Cassini, who began customising her own clothes at the age of six and now has a successful kids' fashion line, was recently snapped with a host of celebrities at New York fashion week. Cecilia, the daughter of a French fashion photographer and an American yoga teacher, has the wide-eyed looks of a model and is currently being filmed for her own reality TV show. Though she may be entrepreneurial, Cecilia's youth was highlighted in a recent TV interview, in which she misspelled her own name.

"We make sure she is grounded, that she does her homework before she starts sewing, and she gives money from the dresses to charity," said her father, Lionel Cassini, 42. "We're just supporting her, not pushing her."

The fashion industry has long favoured youth on the catwalk and in front of the camera, but it is an increasingly valuable asset behind the scenes too. Last month, Madonna's 13-year-old daughter Lourdes launched a fashion line, Material Girl, at the US store Macy's with her pop-star mum. But it is not just celebrities who are getting in on the act.

Last season, the 19-year-old Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenco took Paris by storm with a collection of leather dresses. Teen blogger Tavi Gevinson was hired by the designer label Rodarte – a favourite of celebrities such as Emma Watson and Keira Knightley – to promote its affordable collection for Target, and 17-year-old Jane Aldridge designed a line of shoes for Urban Outfitters on the back of her hugely successful blog Sea of Shoes.

Jessica Brown, editor of Drapers magazine, believes the rapid ascent of teen fashion stars is linked to the growth of social networking sites, which allow aspiring designers to tweet, blog and upload their designs straight to other youngsters. She said: "Young people don't pick up magazines like the previous generation did. They spend more time watching YouTube than TV, so it makes sense that retailers will connect with them through other young people."

The increasing number of young designers can also be linked to the explosion of the teen fashion market. Recent research from the retail analysts Mintel showed that one in five 16- to 24-year-olds spent more on clothes in 2009 than they usually would.

"Young people's continued desire to spend on clothing has created a great opportunity for these young specialist designers," said Tamara Sender, senior fashion analyst at Mintel. "Interest in clothes designed by teenage designers is growing."

However, some believe that the careers of young designers could be short-lived. Ms Brown said: "It is hard to say if they will have longevity. It's a great story for a kid to be doing a collection. Is it such a good one when they are 20? It all depends on the clothes."

Even young designers with the best possible connections fall foul of the competitive industry. In 2008, the Russian designer Kira Plastinina – who was only 15 when her clothing label expanded to 82 outlets – filed for bankruptcy in the US, at a considerable loss to her food entrepreneur father, who had invested $80m setting up the stores.

Jane Aldridge

Jane's shoe obsession led her to write the hugely popular blog Sea of Shoes, which sparked a collaboration with Urban Outfitters. The 17-year-old Texan managed to bag an invite to the Crillon Ball in Paris last year, recently hired an assistant and plans to study fashion at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology.

Tavi Gevinson

Despite describing herself as a "tiny 13-year-old dork that sits inside all day wearing awkward jackets and pretty hats", Tavi took the fashion world by storm with her blog Style Rookie, which has about 50,000 readers, appearing in the front rows at fashion shows and on the cover of Pop magazine.

Kira Plastinina

Kira became a brand when she was 14, developing more than 70 eponymous shops in Russia before expanding to the US at the age of 15. Despite an endorsement from Paris Hilton – rumoured to have cost Kira's father $2m – seven months later, the US division of her company filed for bankruptcy.

Lourdes Leon

The 13-year-old's junior clothing line Material Girl was inspired by mother and collaborator Madonna's early videos and film role in Desperately Seeking Susan. The line includes fingerless gloves and studded T-shirts, but stops short of the conical bra.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before