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Slice of Life

Fifties Americana takes over infant and toddler fashion for spring.
it’s a new era, that’s for sure. Although springtime fashion harkens the ’50s, an idyllic …

Fifties Americana takes over infant and toddler fashion for spring.

it’s a new era, that’s for sure. Although springtime fashion harkens the ’50s, an idyllic decade where children frolicked outside with sweet naivete and mothers were a staple of the homestead, this modern take is manufactured just as female CEOs with babies on the way (like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer) are taking corner offices.

And this changing view of motherhood and childhood is de rigueur right now in American collective culture. Just last month the Museum of Modern Art debuted their exhibit “Century of the Child: Growing by Design (1900-2000),” which centers on society’s expectations and objectives for childhood as viewed by the “stuff” kids are plied with and considers whether children are better off today.

Addressing the MoMA’s question, it’s hard to say whether things are “better”-follow the news and the question seems exceptionally complicated. On the upside, some folk are actively trying to improve the lot for today’s crop. We shot this month’s fashion story at the Hallock Orchard-a Connecticut apple orchard that looks like a scene out of a child’s summertime daydream. Owned by the DiBenedetto family, the orchard donates its entire apple harvest to a state food bank. Our infants and toddlers enjoyed a sunny day beneath the apple trees, amidst tractors and wooden barrels, Granny Smiths and McIntoshes, while donning red and white polka dots, blue plaid, workman’s overalls and gingham check that smacked of the simplicity of yesteryear.

The mid-century mom may have been defined by aprons and apple pie, but today’s version balances her professional aspirations with her personal ones, and lines between family, work and home are increasingly fluid. For instance, Marcia Miller, CEO of Mud Pie, built her booming gift company with her husband (who serves as CFO) while raising two children, and notes that the trade-offs and balancing act that mothers face is very much the reality for a growing number of families today. In our Q&A this month, Miller shares Mud Pie’s milestones and its current opportunities for growth.

Weaving together work and family seems to be a recipe for success. Another fast track family company, Cutie Pie Baby, is the subject of our “Behind the Seams” feature this month. The business is finding success with a blend of organic growth and strategic acquisitions. We spoke with brothers Jack and Eli Yedid about what’s in the pipeline for the infant and toddler company that owns Robar, as well as classic American brand Rugged Bear.

In this issue, we also spotlight a diverse group of baby fashion brands-styles for every taste-from hipper than hip Little Trendstar and organic standout Kiwi Industries, to luxe label Baby CZ. We also feature the latest fashionable footwear by Little Me’s licensee Shalom International. Our featured trends this month range from fun Hawaiian prints to punchy polka dots. In our feature “Spring Snapshot,” we spoke with retailers about standout trends that will hit the shelves, and learned that pops of ’80s neon have caught shop owners’ eyes for spring. Retailers aren’t the only trendspotters these days. Customers are getting in on the game in both driving design decisions for children’s fashion brands as well as funding them. In “Join the Crowd” we explore the trends of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, where inclusivity is replacing exclusivity.

So open your arms to your customer-who morphs from design advisor to investor to back-to-school shopper-and embrace the new reality of retail. It’s complicated for sure, but it’s also a fun ride.

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