A four-part insight into how to buy your kids skate shoes & clothing
they actually want!
Article edited & reproduced from the Source magazine article “Kids Skate Market”,
written by Barcelona’s MiniHipster scout.
Although itself influenced, at least back in the day, by other underground urban movements, there’s no denying the extent of influence that skateboarding has had, and continues to exert, on on modern street fashion! It’s always been a youth-orientated passion, but until relatively recently it has not been a youth-orientated market. Without doubt we’re now seeing previously dreamed-of growth in both passive interest and participation, as well as in the availability of kids-specific product. But with skateboarding being far more ubiquitous than either snowboarding or surfing, predictions and generalisations can be more difficult to make; skate is represented in all social and economic demographics with a consistent geographic spread in Europe, Asia and North America.
SOFTGOODS FOR THE HARD MONEY
The development of kids gear from the skate brands we love is definitely abundant and exciting. And these offerings are comprehensive! We can even see skate-inspired product available for newborns… Who would have guessed this when Vision Streetwear and Etnies started the balls rolling all those years ago?
DVS, for example, has a kids program that offers a selection of styles from the main line, the size run of which starts as low as K11 and goes up to 4.5. They also have a Toddler offering that goes from new born to K10.5 (including a Daewon promodel! shown above left). Quiksilver Baby offers clothes from 3 to 24 months, enabling Quiksilver Kids ranges to dress our juniors from ages 3 months up to 16 years.
And there’s functional technology coming out now too! After seeing an absence of developmentally sound, proper fitting, affordable, long-lasting footwear in the industry, etnies’ kids product management team together with the Sole Technology Institute Laboratory recently did some in-depth research on kids shoes and the needs for size, fit and flexibility specifications that are important for new walkers or skaters. The research showed them that the old shoes were too narrow and stiff and made like a typical athletic adult shoe instead of designed specifically for children. Etnies’ new shoes for SS09 are wider to accommodate chubby toddler/ kids feet, open wide to make the entry easier and are much more flexible to allow for more movement. They also introduced moulded heels as although toddlers’ feet are chubby, their heels are still narrow.
On top of this Etnies’ new “Grow With Me” program allows kids to rock their favorite kicks longer with a removable component that adjusts show size. This also reduces the financial strain that parents face when raising a growing child. Brilliant!
A SOFT SPOT FOR HARDGOODS
More and more we’re seeing kid-specific mini boards appearing on the market, and not just some cut-down plank pressed from a regular deck mould, but dedicated boards especially made for the youngens, complete with thought-out and tested lengths and widths, and most importantly a functional wheel base. Veteran pro skater Rodney Clarke, who has his own mini pro model board, runs a weekend skate school at his local Pioneer Skate Park in St.Albans (London) and conducts a skate education program within the national education system, attests that “Decent mini boards and better range of sizes have got to be the way forward!”
Mini models are available from even the smaller European brands, such as Kama from the UK, who has always produced a proper little kids board that you can be proud to buy your son or daughter. Adam Wood of Kama says “I think it’s important to offer this smaller size. I worked for 7 years in 2 skate shops and saw countless kids on huge decks that they could barely control.”
And, of course, many of the larger international brands now offer mini boards, even from the major leaguers such as Plan B (who’s affiliated truck brand Silver also does a mini truck for the kiddies!). Element go as far as to offer 4 sizes in a specially designed kids range called ‘Twiggs’. “Twig bards are pressed in a mold that has been scaled down from the featherlight mold,” informs Sally Braid. “It makes our featherlight construction even thinner resulting in the thinnest and lightest board available.” Perhaps you could have actually gone pro if such custom learning tools were available to you at a young age…
Part 1, “Style breakdown: The Takedown!”
Still to come:
Part 3, “Who foots the bill?”, and “Marketing: to who for whom?”
Part 4, “Ensuring the future”
…………………………………………………………………………………………Our Barcelona scout is a regular contributor to the Source, the European boardsports industry magazine. This article has been edited & reproduced from the February issue #38 (www.boardsportsource.com)