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Statement shoes are creating a groundswell in children’s fashion.
Statement shoes are creating a groundswell in children’s fashion. In response to the movement toward more sophisticated apparel (the “mini me” trend), footwear is serving as a bastion for fashion impunity and unbridled creativity.
“With the influx of sportswear for kids as a whole, shoes and accessories are a way to keep things youthful and fun when apparel is getting very adult-like and clean,” reports Erin Rechner, senior kidswear editor for the trend agency WGSN.
So be on the lookout for lots of glitz and glam for Spring ’17 as kids’ footwear fashions are not for the faint of heart.
All That Glitters
“Kids have a unique sense of style, and they aren’t scared of wearing loud shoes,” says Maddison Ek, Vans merchandising manager for kids’ footwear.
Fittingly, glitter looks to be a major theme for next spring. From pewter to pink, glitter provides an instant pop of color, brimming with self-expression. “It’s about wanting to make shoes that appeal to a kid’s interests, not what their mom would think was cute or what their older siblings are wearing,” explains Ek.
Native Shoes is also on the glitter trail for next season. Dominique Morrisset, global marketing director, says the brand will continue to offer a “Bling Treatment,” or all-over glitter, for select styles. She adds that it comes in a range of colors designed to appeal to boys and girls. But the choice is up to them, she notes. “We don’t want to tell anyone that they can or can’t wear a particular colorway because it’s a ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ color,” Morrisset says.
Rainbows are trending on everything from cakes and ice cream to hairstyles and lattés, according to WGSN’s Rechner. (Not to mention flags.) With pride politics standing on a higher platform than ever, the increase in rainbows has become a fashion-forward, as well as symbolic, statement.
“I do think Gay Pride is a major factor behind the rainbow collections,” says Megan Linke, founder of Lili Collection, a made-in-the-USA collection launched in 2014. “I love that brands are communicating and showing their support through clothes and accessories,” she adds.
The rainbow craze is influencing purse shapes, sock details and footwear. While it’s a sign of the times, the rainbow also harkens back to fashion trends of the ’60s and ’70s. “We have noticed a huge shift back to ’70s fashion, and are playing more into iconic looks from that era,” says Ek. “The rainbow prints we used in our Kids Classics assortment were actually pulled straight from the Vans archive.”
Get ready to rock with metallic coatings—be it silver, gold or bronze—for show-stopping shine. Clarin Lim, product development manager at Umi, expects metallic to be one of the most versatile trends of the season: “Metallic coatings have a flawless, semi-matte liquid finish that offers a futuristic look to the shoes.”
Nike, Converse, Michael Kors, Mini Melissa and Sophia Webster are just a handful of kids’ labels showcasing bold metallics for the upcoming season, according to Beth Clifton, a buyer for online retailer Alex and Alexa.
Looking to kick it up a notch? Designers have added texture to many metallic offerings, like faux croc leathers and crackled patents.
Leopard print is a perennial kids’ fave, and Cape Clogs Founder Pamela Irving believes it will be on the prowl again next spring. “Leopard just never goes out of style,” she affirms.
But designers have stepped beyond the feline family next season, hosting a menagerie of new animal skin themes—from cow print to Dalmatian spots—and in traditional as well as 3-D designs. Elizabeth Natola, BBC Intl.’s vice president of design, says one of the most influential originators of the animal trend is American fashion designer Jeremy Scott. “Scott’s collaborative line with Adidas showcased what was really a stuffed animal for your foot,” Natola says. “It pioneered how the animal print category could be expanded in a more playful form.” She adds that not only did this set off the 3-D animal shoe movement for kids, but it also helped push the boundaries for more non-traditional animal prints in footwear.
In a season where anything goes, perhaps it’s fitting that suede for summer is trend-right. A takedown from adult labels, like Jason Wu, Derek Lam and Tibi, suede is infiltrating the kids’ footwear market, spanning booties to brogues.
“It’s best suited for footwear and accessories for kids whereas womenswear did it for apparel,” says Rechner. “It also works well with all festival trends, with fringe and Western influences.”
Kids’ footwear designers have found perfection in imperfection—channeling the innocent beauty of watercolor splashes and scribbled textures. “We’ve hand-drawn squiggly lines and polka dots and created our own custom prints that really give our Georgie sandal charm,” says Mitzi Rivas, owner of Livie & Luca. “It beckons all who see it to smile and remember that it’s the little things that bring the most joy.”
Similarly, Melula’s spring collection incorporates lots of color in a mixture of analog pattern designs—handmade and printed. “The pattern is a mixture of art and design, aiming at nonfigurative expressions,” explains Co-Founder Louise Moellermark, adding, “It’s the same processes children use when playing with colors.”
Once considered strictly a utilitarian aspect of footwear design and largely an afterthought, outsoles are taking center stage in the form of bright colors and bold patterns. Drawing attention to unconventional areas of the shoe adds another talking point for a potential sale, experts say.
“Athletically speaking, I think advances in technology have led to a shift in focus toward more innovative outsole design,” Natola says. “There is now technology that allows designers to 3-D print outsoles and not have to rely on mold makers to execute their vision.” Due to the quick turnaround time of 3-D printing, Natola notes that the new technology has allowed designers to get more creative in their approach to outsoles. An early pioneer of this technology? The famous Yeezy collection by Adidas, of course.
Neon colors and kids’ fashion go together like America and apple pie. This season shows no shortage of high-wattage colors across a range of silhouettes for both boys and girls. Dousing styles from sneakers to sandals, popular fluorescent hues span pink, orange, yellow and green.
“Neons definitely downtrend and then resurge in popularity, but they are always a good go-to for infusing some excitement into a line when it comes to children’s footwear,” says Natola. “Either as a pop color or an all-over upper color, neons remain an important trend that buyers and kids alike gravitate toward.”
The design team at BBC Intl. deems the most prominent neon hue for next spring to be the cross between coral and orange. Or, as Natola has dubbed it, “Corange.”
Nike has been at the forefront of popularizing this particular color and the neon trend as a whole, using many supersaturated pastels on running and lifestyle product. Natola agrees that the athletic/lifestyle styles is where the neon trend appears most relevant. To kids’ delight, some designers, like Akid, have amped up the neon look with spunky Jackson Pollock-inspired splatter designs.