While there are kid-sized clothes that cost more than most adult monthly salaries, that doesn’t mean you should buy them
How much should I spend on baby clothes?
Daisy, by email
How long is a piece of string, Daisy? And how much would you pay for that string if it was from Gucci Kids, or Baby Dior? What I’m saying is, the sky’s the limit, depending on how much you hit your head that morning with a Bonpoint catalogue.
It has, of course, always been possible to spend stupid amounts of money on children’s clothing, as a brief glance at historical portraits of royal children proves. But in the past five years, dressing your children as Little Lord Fauntleroy or miniature supermodels has become yet another signifier of aspirational elitism, like carrying a £1,500 handbag and going on £8,000 holidays.
The usual celebrities, such as Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian West, are now regularly photographed with their daughters in designer mini-me clothes that cost more than the monthly salary of most adults. Fashion, not an industry known for eschewing an easy buck from fools, is quickly following the money, and Givenchy, Pucci and Roberto Cavalli are all imminently launching or relaunching their children’s lines. Because a $3,500 fur, as modelled recently by young North West, is precisely what every 20-month-old has been missing from their wardrobe.
“Childrenswear is an entry price point for luxury,” Luisana Mendoza, one of the co-founders of the website Maisonette, which has been described as “Net-a-Porter for children” (bring on the revolution), told Fashionista. “You may not buy a $10,000 Dolce and Gabbana dress for yourself, but you might buy a $200 Dolce and Gabbana dress for your child and have that same experience.”
Well, maybe you do, Mendoza, but does your child? Strangely, I cannot find any studies on the psychological effect on children when they are stuffed into £1,000 Gucci dresses and treated by their parents as dress-up dolls and then used by them to get likes on Instagram. I guess I’ll have to investigate this myself, so any academic institutions wishing to fund my long-planned PhD, North by North West: The Cost of Children’s Designerwear on the Infant’s Inner Psyche, from the Windsors to the Kardashians, please get in touch at the usual address.
I thought when I was a parent I’d understand better the appeal of spending three or four figures on a dress for someone who will spit up or grow out of it in the next five minutes, whichever comes first. (Maybe this is what Andrea Leadsom meant when she suggested ?that as a parent she was a better choice for prime minister. After all, knowing the date and location of the secret Bonpoint outlet sale is more valuable information than the nuclear codes.) Well, it turns out I was wrong. Before I had kids, I used to love giving my friends’ children completely ridiculous clothes. In fact, I remember giving a friend and colleague, whose name rhymes with Schmarina Schmyde, a smoking jacket from Marc Jacobs’ kids line, Baby Marc, when her eldest turned two. Oh, how Schmarina laughed when she saw it, and at the time I assumed it was because she was so delighted with my witty purchase. Now, however, I understand that she was overcome with hysteria at the stupidity and pointlessness of my present.
“Oh great, another piece of crap to take up space I no longer have in my home,” she may or may not have been thinking. “Why don’t you just stand in front of me and burn $100 and then take a little bit more of my drawer space away with it? Because that’s what this present is to me. Thanks a bunch, pal!”
Oh sure, there is a charm to be had in playing with miniature fancy clothes, when the kids aren’t yours and you don’t have to worry about washing them. Probably the most fun hour I’ve had in midtown Manhattan was when I went to the Gucci children’s boutique, which featured such essentials as $500 handbags and $3,800 leather jackets for eight-year-olds. But at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, let’s not pretend that these clothes are for kids: they might be kid-sized, but they are for the parents. And that is why they are not just revoltingly overpriced – they are revolting.
Most parents want their kids to look nice. We clean the ketchup off their faces and usually try to take them out in clothes that aren’t pyjamas. But that is very different from spending high prices on clothes for your kids and treating them like a precious doll who exists purely as an extension of you and your interests. As Andrew Solomon so brilliantly put it in his book Far From the Tree, when you have children you do not reproduce – you produce. Your kids are not you, and they are not there to make you look good.
Look, I love fashion and spend too much money on it. But if $2,500 outfits are your norm from the age of four, where do you go from there? And what kind of perspective will you ever have on the world?
Yes, I know the general message of this column every week is: “Spend your money how you like! Wear what you want! Live a little! It doesn’t matter!” But I make a big exception for designer kids’ clothes.
Because, well, they are absolutely gross, and, I honestly suspect, psychologically questionable.
Put down the £3,500 children’s leather jacket and just go to Mothercare on Holloway Road. They do a great set of onesies for £5, and your kids will love them.