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European Trend Report: Spring/Summer ’17

Enter the Era of Sophistication.

For buyers in the tiny tot trade, spring comes in the summertime with several shows in Europe—Playtime Paris, Bubble London and FIMI in Madrid—all debuting their pint-sized 2017 collections. In June, Earnshaw’s made a pit stop at Pitti Bimbo, a trade show in Florence that—encouragingly—saw a record number of buyers from all over the world. Aside from catching a first look at the newsworthy launches of two designer kids’ lines Aquazurra and Giuseppe Zanotti (called Giuseppe Junior), we soaked up the top-trending ideas.One overriding theme? The level of sophistication and style in European childrenswear is reaching for new heights.

Neutral and Natural


Picking up on the growing trend of using white or neutral colors in nurseries, super-soft natural materials, either faded or washed, made a strong debut at the show. Several European companies produced collections absent of color, sweetness or fuss. Treehouse by Anja Schwerbrock, from Antwerp, Belgium, showcased a collection of neutral-toned onesies, leggings and trousers that would make an adult swoon. Olive by Sisco, from Italy, intentionally gave garments a worn-in bohemian natural flavor. And London-based Belle Enfant took  neutral-colored, natural fabrics and presented them in the form of stylish silhouettes such as bloomers, sweats and jumpers.

Go Graphic


While some brands were toning down collections, opting for natural or neutral colors, others turned up the volume. That means everything from bold graphics to mixing and matching colors. Italian brand Il Gufo presented rough drawings of boats and artistic swirls on hoodies and T-shirts while Aletta, also from Italy, showed striped dresses in contrasting colors and directions. Others took appliqué to another level. Another Italian brand, Paesaggino, juxtaposed the word “love” with the Eiffel Tower, a striped bow and a flower on one dress while a T-shirt was adorned with a beach chair, umbrella, heart and the words “Saint Tropez.”

Ever Elegant


Childrenswear will always have a place for special-occasion dresses, like ones for communions, coming of age events or parties. Fittingly, a crop of designers is upping the ante. If Haute Couture applied to childrenswear, designer Mischka Aoki would certainly be included in the exclusive society. Her SS ’17 collection made liberal use of crystal beads, embroidered French lace and pleated tulle for its little princesses. Nicki Macfarlane, the London house that famously dressed the Royal Wedding’s four little flower girls, presented a collection filled with every little girl’s dream—petticoats, contrasting bows, floral detailing along with lace, tulle and organza. Another highlight was Italian label Mi. Mi. Sol’s large red roses on white duchess satin dresses with green border lines, from the collection called “Dejeuner sur l’Herbe.”

Do Denim


Denim is alive and well in kids’ as companies like Spanish brand Losan, Dutch brand Vingino and British brand Blue Effect produced every silhouette from skinny to boyfriend jeans and overalls to denim cut-offs. Faded washes were very popular, as were fun details like flowers, rips and patches.  Classics like straight-leg and denim jackets also showed no signs of slowing down. In short, however, it’s the shabby, worn-in retro silhouette that is the indigo of the moment.

Surfin’ USA


With Beach Boys songs ringing in our ears, European brands are taking a page from Southern California lifestyle with soft slogan T-shirts, jeans and surfer styles.  The words “West Coast,” surfboards, palm trees and and Volkswagen buses were graphically used on clothing items. Following the beach theme, tropical leaf prints, sunsets and Hawaiian shirts were also popular. SoCal has never looked so good as seen through the eyes of Europeans.

Varsity, Flight and Bombers


Varsity jackets and bombers were huge for adults this year—Saint Laurent had a very popular version—and the little ones are following suit. For both girls and boys, bombers or flight jackets were either plain and edgy or spiffed-up and metallic. Varsity styles took a page from American letter jackets with patches, and stripes down the arm in contrasting colors or fabric. Super Rebel, out of the Netherlands, offered quilted versions for both boys and girls while those at French brand Finger in the Nose reeked of bold attitude. Please showed a varsity bomber and flight jacket all in one, patches included. Even Little Marc Jacobs and Phillipp Plein Junior got in on the sporty action.

Cast of Characters


What would childhood be without cartoons, monsters and popular characters? At Pitti Bimbo, another version of the character emerged—the emoji—with the British brand Merri Merini primarily playing with the emoticons on sweaters. Meanwhile, the worlds of Frozen, Bambi and Cinderella are all alive and well in the girls’ line of British label Courage & Kind while Star Wars, Rebel Pilots and Mickey reigned supreme for boys. Jooseph’s Little Monsters Supply, based in Zurich, offered a beguiling googley-eyed cast of monsters on T-shirts. There’s little doubt that characters are here to stay.

Go Pom-Poms!


There’s something nomadic and festive about brightly-colored pom-poms; they just scream summer vacation. Womenswear designers Dolce & Gabbana and Mara Hoffman put pom-poms on everything from iPhone cases to straw bags, and the pint-sized market took off where they left off. Now on shoes, bags shirts and jeans, pom-poms are making a serious presence in childrenswear. At Piccola Ludo, from Italy, bright turquoise pom-poms lined a sweet white smock. And at Spanish brand Holala, pom-poms adorned leather sandals.

Majorly Metallic


What girl doesn’t want styles that are completely over-the-top? And metallic anything will do the trick. Whether it’s metallic threads at Italian brand Mi.Mi. Sol or full-on bronze dresses at Hong-Kong-based Velveteen, metallic fabrics were everywhere. Metallic fabric also made appearances in mixed media pieces and colors of metallic clothing run the gamut from silver and gold to bronze and even purple.

Wit and Whimsy


Childhood is all about imagination, and there were several brands that blew us out of the water in terms of sheer creativity. British company Blade & Rose debuted the most fun vibrant range of leggings with everything from the words “Zap Pow” to graphic pineapples bound for babies everywhere. Pero, based in Rajasthan, India, presented a collection straight out of a fairy tale, piling on appliques on brightly-colored textiles, petticoats and pants—all meant to be worn together.And, finally, British brand Bryony and Co. takes storytelling to another level with original prints on dresses that literally tell a story about a little girl named Poppy and her friends. Each dress is also accompanied with an illustrated book.


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