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.
(image courtesy of Vans)
Kids, for the purposes of this report, are children 14 years and below. On average, the kids skate market occupies around 25% of the skate market as a whole – brand estimates are between 5-10% for footwear and apparel, and ranging from 30-70% for hardgoods. However, one point that unites all brands contributing to this report is the positive growth trend for the future, even given the current gloomy economic climate. An almost unanimous response was also the continued attention and dedication required (& desired) to support the growth of a strong kids skate demographic. Yay!
STYLE BREAKDOWN: THE TAKEDOWN!
At a ratio of 6:1 from brand response to this report, “takedown” of adult designs to kids sizes is the most common approach to building a kids range. “We create many of our styles… in exact takedowns of adult styles,” says Karin Muehlemann of Vans, “but we also inject a lot of fun kids-only patterns into the line with animal prints, hearts, skulls that kids can’t get enough of.” On the other hands, Ally Barr of Independent feels that takedowns are exactly what the kids are looking for: “Skate kids want the real deal, not some thing with a stupid Dinosaur on it.” KR3W is another brand that seems to feel this way, with their entire line designed for more mature demographic, but consumed equally as well by the young.
Independent Bar/Cross tshirt (left), KR3W Remix tshirt (right)
Sally Braid of Element summarises “Kids are inspired by what their role models wear, hence we do not feel that it is necessary to develop junior-specific designs.”
Jenny Ahnell of Etnies suggests that “People that grew up with Etnies want their children to be outfitted in the same shoes and brands. We are seeing a greater increase season on season.”
Following in the favorite footwear of their fathers & mothers…?
Adio Taro (left), C1RCA Reaper (right)
So is the design takedown simply a “mini me” obsession of over-the-hill skate designers with a secret maternal desire, is it a matter of design budget logic, or something more complex?
Marie Stephan of Quiksilver offers: “In the past, trends appeared first in the Adults sector and were taking a few seasons to reach the junior market… Nowadays, trends appear almost simultaneously in both the Men and Junior markets – kids want to have the same offer as the adults, as they’re identifying with them. The junior market is changing fast and brands need to be reactive.”
Our little ankle-biters are more sophisticated than we may have thought!
Matix Asher full-zip girls hoodies, Jordan (left) in and From There (right)
So what can we expect in terms of cuts for the SS09?
It would seem more of the rockstar same, almost unanimously.
KR3W confirms “We’re maintaining our slim and regular fits in kids denim”, in unison with Ally Barr of Independent, who clarifies it a little further for us: ”Slim to mid fit. Baggy is for MoFo hip hop has beens. Kids have moved on.”
So there you have it…
Still to come:
Part 2, “Softgoods for the hard sell”, and “A soft spot for Hardgoods”
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)