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The Swede Spot

Should kids dress like kids or model more mature looks? The best brands let them do both.

One of the many wars we moms allegedly wage takes place on the battlefield of children’s fashion. Every month or so, some tot snapped in a sophisticated ensemble sets off a heated online debate about whether biker jackets or sheer tops are appropriate for kids. (Often, that tot is Kim Kardashian’s daughter, North West.)

I’m calling for a cease fire. Not only because these never-ending arguments are extremely tedious, but also because they are largely unnecessary: There are so many fantastic children’s brands making looks that please both parents and kids.

I’m often asked: What’s the most exciting development in children’s fashion? And my answer is this: that so many new brands are creating collections that expertly balance worldly with whimsical. Today’s stylish looks are sweet without being saccharine. Cute without being cutesy. Childlike without being childish.

You can call it the Pixar approach. The Disney animation studio has mastered the art of making movies that kids can’t resist and parents can tolerate. Similarly, today’s top brands are doing the same, by taking familiar kids’ fashion staples and rendering them in fresh and unexpected new ways. The basic bird inspires flights of fancy thanks to today’s quirky, hand-drawn prints. The classic house cat is cuddly no more, but instead elevated to near-comic proportions with funky, digital prints. Even the beloved star pattern, a

longtime staple of layette collections, has received an out-of-this world update, with an oversized, asymmetrical and metallic look.

If you ask me, no part of the world is doing this better than Scandinavia. Mini A Ture, Mini Rodini, Molo, Popupshop, Minymo, Polarn O. Pyret: All Scandinavian brands creating playful, colorful, oft-zany collections with a definite dose of style. Maybe it’s the region’s lighthearted approach to life—or its open-minded take on fashion. As Jennifer Athanason, U.S. CEO at Swedish children’s brand Polarn O. Pyret says, “It all kind of circles back to the lifestyle of the Scandinavian people. There’s a great emphasis on personal freedom and uniqueness.”

Not to mention, traditional gender norms are often thrown out the window. “It’s almost universal in Scandinavia that men are wearing fashion-forward, hipster-type looks. It’s a region of the world full of hipsters,” she jokes. However, she adds pointedly, Swedes aren’t frivolous. “They make stuff that works and looks good.” Athanason describes Polarn O. Pyret as “fun, funky and functional.”

Now there’s a fashion philosophy worth fighting for.

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