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Circle of Life

I have several friends who are expecting this year, and it’s fun to see them discovering the clothing, accessories and juvenile products I’ve come to …

I have several friends who are expecting this year, and it’s fun to see them discovering the clothing, accessories and juvenile products I’ve come to view as commonplace. Through their eyes, it’s easy to see that the old saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is really true. While overseas production and big-box behemoths have certainly transformed the market, the way in to kids’ hearts and the emotional tie that parents feel with all things connected to their little ones does indeed remain the same.

Growing up, birthdays were always a big deal for me. Not because of the over-the-top celebrations that are commonplace today, but because it was my special day and truly exciting to achieve that next age. While today’s kids may have more materially, the sentiment is the same—and with it comes all of the trappings. Savvy retailers and vendors have taken note and developed products designed specifically for the endless parade of birthday revelry. In “Life of the Party” (page 20), industry experts chime in on the best ways to entice shoppers with gifts and goodies to mark the occasion.

Though another year at school is rarely something that children like to celebrate, moms are usually pretty happy to see that yellow bus start rolling again each fall. They’re also typically on board with the idea of dress codes in school—if for no other reason than it cuts out some of the drama in the morning routine. On the other hand, kids can be more leery of these policies, which is why school uniform companies constantly adapt their offerings to reflect mainstream sportswear. In “Color Coded” (page 24), these brands reveal the biggest change to hit this market: School districts now allow many more colors than in the past. So while the dress codes still achieve the goals of placing all children on a level playing field, they now also allow for some personal expression—a great example of keeping the old while embracing the new.

In “Plaidtastic” (page 34), we showcase designers’ updating of a classic pattern with a contemporary spin (think bright colors and interesting scale). And “Welcome to the Jungle” (page 28) features scales galore—thanks to the exotic animals that help us showcase the muted hues and burnished finishings of the season’s military outerwear. I wonder if my friends are ready for lizards and frogs stuffed into coat pockets? Animals and kids: Now there’s a pairing that will never change. —Caletha Crawford

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