Come hell or high water, there’s no compromise on my baby’s needs… These few words overheard from a couple’s conversation during a recent bus ride are sufficient for anyone to understand why some experts prefer to call kidswear ‘recession proof’ while others maintain that there’s hardly ever a ‘dip’ in the kidswear market. Irrespective of the dynamics of economy and markets, the demand for kidswear is always there…
Having touched US $ 236.6 billion in 2016 globally, the babies and childrenswear clothing and footwear market is showing no signs of peaking as yet and there are multiple reasons behind it. Call it growing affluence of the parents, inclination to dress children in the best trendy clothes, better marketing by brands, widening range of choices of luxury and designer clothing, enhanced role of children in purchase decisions or growing exposure to media, factors are multiple.
Asia-Pacific region, in particular is considered one of the fastest growing markets for this product category. The market in India and China alone is growing at 12-15 per cent CAGR while even a saturated market like US is growing at 5.7 per cent, which is partially due to the expanding base of affluent middle-class parents as it is also because of the development of organized retail infrastructure and rising awareness of international brands.
According to a Report on ‘Global Kids Clothing Industry Situation and Prospects Research Report 2017’ by Ken Research, countries in this region are expected to prosper economically, which would push the demand for quality kids’ clothing. India and China in particular remain the top destinations. But to cater to the same global players, the report underlines, these countries would have to tailor their products to suit the socio-cultural parameters while also blending the offerings with the global trends and styles.
The luxury end of the childrenswear market is also growing like never before in the West, fuelled by older parents with higher disposable income and keen on dressing up their kids in the best of apparels. The role of social media is also not to be overlooked in the scheme of things either. Influencers like Farouk James (a childrenswear model), whose Instagram account has racked up lakhs of followers and counting, and with children joining social media at an earlier age than ever before, this trend is expected to gain momentum in the coming days.
In terms of fabrics used in different types of kidswear, knitted fabrics is going to rule the roost in casualwear section while cotton, gingham, gabardine and sail cloth would remain the preferred choice for the summer season. Fleece is fast gaining popularity for outerwear owing to its quick-drying and easy to wash properties while wool is still the chosen one for the bleak, winter days in some markets… Double knits, velveteen and corduroys are also very much in this race.
In terms of colours, bright colours such as pink, light blue and yellow are the traditional favourites while in mature markets, acceptance to innovative use of colours and fancy patterns such as warm and cool colour combinations is on the rise.
Bangladesh showing renewed interest
Bangladesh, the second biggest apparel exporter globally, is expected to play a crucial role in the growth and development of the kidswear market. Catering to almost all major kidswear brands, the major players have already upped their ante in anticipation of the immense future growth prospects. If some have set up green factories to bring onboard new buyers, others are concentrating on PD and market expansion to cash in on this opportunity.
There are many well-established players in Bangladesh. Some are dedicated to volume, while others are looking at smaller quantities and then there are some that are flexible to all types of quantities. Again, some players are only doing knitted garments while others are concentrating on woven items, while another set of manufacturers combine both to give unique products. The idea for all is to differentiate and create value for their customers.
Bando Design, Masco Group, Versatile Apparels, Design & Sourcing, Utah Fashions Limited (Utah Group) are a few such established names. Masco Group is a fully knitted integrated set-up with a turnover of US $ 165 million that does 70% production for kids’ category, mostly for European buyers, the biggest being Esprit Kids. They are now strengthening their PD skills and in 2018, a design studio for childrenswear is on their cards. On the same platform is Bando Design which does only woven bottoms for kids’ in basic styles, producing as much as 1.5 million pieces in a single style for its biggest buyer H&M.
Then there is a company like Versatile Apparels, which is small but does work that not everyone in Bangladesh can attempt while Utah Fashions Limited (Utah Group) drives its strength from being a vertically-integrated facility with its very own spinning, knitting, dyeing, finishing, manufacturing, washing, printing and embroidery facilities, all under one roof, to cater to names such as H&M, Carter’s, Tesco, etc. Design & Source Limited is little different from the rest as it has also forayed into sourcing lately while also planning a new 100-line Green facility (one of the biggest in Bangladesh and to be operational soon) to increase its production substantially to cater to the burgeoning demand for kidswear from clients including next, Debenhams, Edcon, Davo, Koton Turkey and Pepco.