Cheerleaders, basketball, stars and stripes - spring 08 collections at Pitti Bimbo in Florence last week had a distinctly American flavour. Kidswear brands either rocked the Miami Vice look or opted for a more sport-inspired take on the trend.
Reserved mainly for design-led labels such as Phard Babe Jeans, Ollie and Guess, Americana was made up of basics and casuals, with pretty dresses and skirts offering a feminine touch in girlswear. Boys' streetwear brands made references to Route 66 and American collegiate sports teams across T-shirts and hoodies, while Phard Babe Jeans and Nolita Pocket kept it girly with a glitter and cheerleading theme. Phard Babe Jeans also used the American flag colour palette in silk dresses and tiered skirts for a softer take on the trend. The look took a more vintage turn at Energie and Gas, with biker influences coming through on bomber and leather jackets.
Mainstream and more traditional brands stayed away from the American-inspired theme, playing safe with an old spring favourite: the nautical look. White and navy stripes were seen across many collections, from Burberry to Mirtillo, mirroring last year's principal look. I Pinco Pallino and Brooksfield kept it preppy with blazers and structured silhouettes; Gas and Roberto Cavalli went for a sporty take on the look; and girlswear brands Miss Blumarine and Save The Queen Circus added volume and frills to their collections.
Unsurprisingly, some UK buyers who regularly attend the show were uninspired by the ranges and lamented the lack of new and exciting looks for the season. But having opted for a more daring rock star trend for autumn 07, some brands were obviously playing it safe this season with a commercial look that has worked well for them in the past.
Other trends to choose from included prints and vintage chic, trends which have filtered down to kidswear from previous womenswear collections. Bold kaleidoscopic prints on smock tops and dresses were key to collections by Escada, Missoni and Phard Babe Jeans, while more traditional brands such as Monnalisa and I Pinco Pallino favoured florals. Boyswear brands also jumped on the bandwagon, using dip-dye for a music festival-inspired theme.
Many labels were inspired by the 1950s, with polka dots, cinched-in waists and netting hair accessories among the highlights at Miss Grant, Guess and Save The Queen Circus. Also key were glitter and metallics with gold and white as the favourites, as embraced by Miss Sixty and Monnalisa.
Trend-led labels such as Ollie, Gas, Energie and Phard Babe Jeans worked up a casual classic look for spring, unveiling sporty basics with collegiate motifs. Guess and Mirtillo took a preppy approach, while Gas showed vintage-inspired looks. Although a commercial look, it is easily copied by cheaper competitors, which will not reassure branded buyers.
Glitz & Glamour
This trend is for those who like to dress up. Miss Grant and Guess looked to the 1950s for inspiration, the latter remaining faithful to classic pieces, while Miss Grant gave things a modern twist with leggings. Save The Queen Circus embraced a clinched-in waist look, while Miss Sixty, Mirtillo and even Monnalisa brightened up their ranges with sequins and metallics.
Spring 08 girlswear was given an injection of bold shapes and bright colours. High-end labels Chloe and Alberta Ferretti toned it down with muted colours and gentle patterns, while Monnalisa and I Pinco Pallino opted for spring blooms and florals. In boyswear, brands such as Ollie and Indi-Jo focused on dip-dye techniques and music festival motifs.
The nautical look remained popular. From Burberry and Alberta Ferretti to Phard Babe Jeans and Guess, the stripes-and-navy look was a commercial banker at Pitti. Alberta Ferretti kept the obvious yachting references to a minimum, focusing on a demure palette, but most brands were content to splash images of sailing ships across blazers, dresses and T-shirts.
Alberta Ferretti Girls
The Alberta Ferretti Girls range, aimed at ages four to 12, includes T-shirts, trousers, dresses outerwear in embroidered cotton and jersey. Wholesale prices average EUR60 (£41) and the range, produced by Grant SpA, also includes footwear. 00 39 02 76 05 91 www.grantspa.com
Brooksfield Junior Girls
Inspired by the brand's womenswear range last season, Brooksfield Junior Girls targets ages two to 16, the same as its boyswear collection. The 30-piece range wholesales from EUR15 (£10) for T-shirts to EUR65 (£44) for dresses. 00 39 01 16 89 39 11 www.brooksfield.com
Pitti Bimbo's new Ecoethic ethical section, launched this season, featured seven brands, including Altheana, Bonnie Young, Babaloo and InchBlue. All use organic materials, and the brands extol their ethical production chains and manufacturing processes. 00 39 05 53 69 31 www.pittimmagine.com
Alongside the old favourites and long-standing brands, this edition of Pitti Bimbo boasted a raft of new kidswear labels
Guess is tapping into the popularity of the gift market by launching sets for newborns aged up to 24 months. The sets, which include a printed bib, hat and T-shirt, come in two styles - blue for boys and pink for girls - priced at £10 wholesale. 020 7837 2322 www.guesskids.com
I Pinco Pallino 1950
I Pinco Pallino has unveiled a limited-edition T-shirt collection under its 1950 sub-brand. The 1950 Art Collection is a series of numbered T-shirts aimed at two- to 14-year-olds and includes six designs, each retailing at EUR50 (£34). 00 39 03 54 25 51 11 www.ipincopallino.it
Boyswear brand Ollie has launched a babywear range called Ollie Baby, aimed at kids aged three months to two years. It offers T-shirts, trousers and jackets, wholesaling from £5 to £15. The design-led label has toned down the trends to cater for a younger market. 0141 572 4075 www.ollieclothing.com
Wendy Messenger, owner of Little VIPs in Scotland
"We were quite disappointed with the show. There was nothing new to see, the trends weren't very inspiring - lots of brights and metallics - and they won't translate very well in the UK market. We're thinking of going to the Children's Club show in New York instead because the ranges there seem to be more commercial and less glittery. We've also had to cut back on budget - between the weather and a difficult retail climate, we're being forced to spend less."
Lynne Crook, kidswear buying manager at Selfridges
"The colours on show at Pitti Bimbo this season were very retro, with lots of metallics and 1970s influences and a 1980 Hawaiian dip-dye print. Nolita Pocket, Ollie, Missoni and Calvin Klein looked good. Our budgets are up this season, but we're buying fewer new labels and investing in an in-depth offer of existing brands."
Michelle Ahern, owner of Fashion Fair in County Tipperary, Ireland
"It's my first time visiting Pitti Bimbo and it has been really inspirational. There is so much choice at reasonable prices. I particularly liked Escada, Chloe and Ollie. I Pinco Pallino also had a good collection, but it's too expensive."
Janette George, owner of Kontinental Kids in Guildford
"It's my first visit to Pitti Bimbo - my shop opens in September. I was overwhelmed by the collections on offer. There were no strong trends, but brands such as You & Green, Pomme Framboise and River Woods were really inspiring. The only downside is that I don't think Italian fashion has moved forward."