Burberry $750 Kids’ Coats Turn Playgrounds to Runways

When it comes to dressing her three children, no label is out of reach for Loretta Lazar, a full-time mother in Paris.

Sophia, 10, Noah, 2, and newborn Katarina have a wardrobe full of designer gear, said Lazar. “They don’t wear Gucci or Dior every day,” she said. “But I want my kids to look nice.”

Gucci, the Italian brand owned by Paris-based PPR SA, and Burberry Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest luxury retailer, are targeting status-conscious parents with $340 fur-lined suede infant boots, a $375 baby cashmere outfit and a girl’s double-breasted gabardine trench coat retailing for $750.

Children’s wear accounted for 5 percent of Burberry’s 1.28 billion-pound ($2 billion) sales last year and may double to 10 percent “over time” as the company adds to its eight standalone children’s stores, Chief Executive Officer Angela Ahrendts said.

“There is excellent potential for children’s wear across retail and wholesale channels, including e-commerce where sales are particularly strong,” Ahrendts said.

Sales of children’s designer outerwear may grow 12 percent to $4.13 billion this year, according to Euromonitor International Plc. That’s more than three times as fast as sales of men’s and women’s luxury outerwear in 2010. By 2015, the kids’ high-end market may swell to $8.6 billion, Euromonitor predicts. Euromonitor’s definition of outerwear is for all clothing excluding footwear and underwear.

10% Growth

Worldwide sales of luxury goods are set to grow 10 percent this year, excluding currency movements, HSBC analysts Antoine Belge and Erwan Rambourg estimated in June.

Sales of children’s designer outerwear climbed 13 percent to $3.69 billion from 2007 to 2009, Euromonitor estimates. That compares with a 10 percent sales decline overall in the 153 billion-euro ($197 billion) luxury-goods market in the period as some consumers curbed spending during the global recession, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

Part of the appeal is price, according to Lazar.

Christian Dior SA’s children’s wear “isn’t the same price as adult Dior,” Lazar said. “You can get an outfit for 200 euros whereas for adults you can barely get a T-shirt” for that amount.

Gucci will introduce clothes, small leather goods, footwear, jewelry, sunglasses and blankets for kids under 8 in spring 2011.

Celebrity Culture

“We are increasingly convinced that our brand has the reputation, authority and the adaptability to be successful in a variety of areas,” Gucci CEO Patrizio di Marco said in an e-mailed response to questions. The collection, made exclusively in Italy, goes on sale in November. Gucci declined to give retail prices.

Stella McCartney will unveil an “affordable” clothing and accessories line for kids under 12 in November, the company, a joint venture with Gucci Group NV, said today in a statement. Prices will start from 19 euros for a baby’s t-shirt, stretching to as much as 150 euros for a coat.

Celebrity culture and status-seeking are driving the growth, according to Fflur Roberts, Euromonitor’s luxury-goods research manager.

Suri Cruise, the 4-year-old daughter of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, has been photographed wearing a Burberry fur-trimmed parka and beige velveteen coat lined with the brand’s signature plaid.

“Lots of children will follow Paris Hilton or Victoria Beckham and want to have their clothes or be like them,” Roberts said in a phone interview.

Armani Junior

Giorgio Armani will indulge that desire this afternoon, hosting an event with Vogue in its Milan store where children will pose for photos dressed in the Italian label’s Armani Junior fall-winter 2010 line, the company said today.

At the same time, dressing their kids in designer gear is a guilt-free way for fashion-focused parents to indulge their own penchant for following trends, Roberts said. “It makes them feel good,” she said.

“Parents increasingly see their children as a reflection of themselves so they want to make sure they look good and are in the latest things,” said Sarah Peters, senior retail analyst at Verdict Research, a part of the Datamonitor Group.

Pets are also getting a designer makeover as people without children look for a substitute to spoil and another way of showing off their status, according to Euromonitor’s Roberts.

“There’s been a huge increase in spending on designer pet clothing and accessories,” Roberts said.

Pet Accessories

Sales of pet goods such as leashes with logos, so-called doggy bags for carrying pooches, vests and blankets almost doubled to $1.73 billion between 2004 and 2008, Euromonitor estimates. After stagnating last year, spending on the category may rise 4.3 percent to $1.8 billion in 2010 and surge to $9.14 billion by 2014, the researcher predicts.

“Their owners won’t feel so bad about it because it’s not for them,” Roberts said. “The guilt aspect is taken away if it’s for their children or pets.”

A Louis Vuitton monogram canvas “Baxter” dog carrier costs 1,050 euros, according to London-based spokesman Richard Pickard.

Gucci’s dog bag costs $1,430, while a medium dog leash by the Italian fashion house costs $450, according to its website.

Lazar, 40, doesn’t have a dog. Some of her American and Asian friends do.

“Let’s put it this way,” she said. “If the dog is wearing Gucci, the kids aren’t wearing Gap.”

(Corrects story published Sept. 14 to include clothing in Euromonitor’s definition of industry in sixth paragraph.)
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