How does a premium denim brand enter the children’s apparel market without causing a case of sticker shock?
Enter Q4 Designs. The New York-based design agency takes on a variety of clients, many of which look to create high-quality kids’ versions of their adult lines at a fraction of the price. Current clients include 7 For All Mankind, Diesel and Tractr.
Q4 Design President Morris Dabbah outlined four factors for premium denim brands to consider in order to successfully build their children’s denim empire.
Cost + Common Sense
According to Dabbah, children’s jeans use approximately 15-20 percent less fabric than men’s and women’s. If brands applied the production resources it uses for men’s and women’s denim to children’s styles, and accrued the same labor costs, kids’ denim retail prices would be comparable to mom’s and dad’s—meaning parents would pay upwards of $150 for a premium pair of children’s jeans.
“You can’t just take the same jean with less fabric and make it in the same factory,” he said. “A lot of these premium denim players are making their jeans in Los Angeles or in Mexico with the best wash facilities and really expensive labor and great fabric. That costing model doesn’t work for kids’ because otherwise the kids’ jeans would be way too expensive.”
Fit, feel and fashion are as important to kids’ denim as it is to men’s and women’s denim. In order to succeed in children’s, Morris said brands need to maintain the quality of which they’re known for, but with an entirely different costing infrastructure—be it in China, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
“Fabric is the one place we don’t want to compromise because it’s the most important piece of the garment,” he said. “The first thing the consumer does is touch the jean—it’s got to feel great and fit great.”
The children’s denim category is faced with the same challenges the rest of the apparel industry encounter—especially athleisure. Morris said adult denim companies are not the only ones feeling the strain that knitwear continues to put on denim sales.
“Kids’ denim is competing with knitwear in a big way. Athleisure, sweatpants and joggers are things that the denim industry has to compete with for boys and girls,” he said.
Emojis are saving the day. Dabbah said a key trend in children’s denim are emoji patches. For boys’ he sees trends involving patches and icons, while girls’ call for embroidery, powdered washes, removed pockets and gift-with-purchases like suede and chorded belts.