Clothes That Grow
“As soon as designers have children, they start designing children’s fashion.” What Christiane Gruber, head of the Austrian label Awareness & Consciousness observed among herself and her friends is also true of international fashion designers. Margherita Missoni, for example, was so dissatisfied with the range of children’s clothes after her son Otto was born that she didn’t think twice before designing her own collection. Margherita Kids: a ’60s-style clothing line with trapezoid-shaped cuts, garish colours and floral patterns. Christiane Gruber wasn’t dissatisfied, but simply didn’t feel like “making something specially” for her daughter. She presented her first children’s collection in 2012. As both a mum and a designer, she’s an expert.
She dedicated her first children’s collections to babies. Bodysuits made from high-quality materials she dyed by hand. Which lead to the creation of lots of unique items, as happened later with pieces for older children. For Gruber, it is crucial that only natural materials touch babies’ bodies.
Comfy, cosy, timeless
In her children’s collection, she makes sure the cuts are comfortable – but most of all she tries to ensure they will grow with the child. T-shirt dresses, for example, get shorter and shorter until they can be worn as a top. Softly flowing playsuits will fit for two to three years. “My garments for children and for adults have a higher price tag. Because the thought and hope behind them is that they will become favourites, be worn for longer and last longer.”
With high-profile role models, even the tiniest tots can be trendsetters nowadays. Gruber isn’t interested in keeping up with trends, especially when we’re talking about children’s fashion. She acknowledges that children’s wear has taken its cue from reduced adults’ designs for quite some time. “But I personally don’t like it when children look styled. It doesn’t matter whether they’re the kids of stars wearing expensive designer gear or ordinary children running around dressed from head to toe in hip children’s wear labels. What I find interesting is a good mix. Old and new. Items from my own childhood that mean something very individual to me.” In everyday life, children need clothes that can get dirty, she advises. And they don’t always have to match. “When all’s said and done, they’re still children.”