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
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
REX/Eye Candy
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
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

    C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

    C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

    Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

    £55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

    Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

    Day In a Page

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

    What is the appeal of Twitch?

    Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

    A dream come true for SJ Watson

    Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

    Paul Scholes column

    Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?