Why online shops should target the children’s apparel market – size, facts, and trends

Cute, fashionably dressed kid sitting on a skateboard
Despite inflation, parents invest their hearts and wallets in dressing their little ones. Europe’s children’s apparel market stands as a thriving industry, fueled by unrelenting demand that remains resilient even in times of crisis.

How big is the children's apparel market in Europe?

Children make up 15.6% of Europe’s total population. Nearly one quarter of the 197 million households in the EU have children. In several countries like Italy, Hungary, Spain, and Germany, this percentage is even higher, approaching or reaching 50%. These households allocate a significant portion of their spending to children-related expenses, particularly on clothing. Here is the approximate average annual expenditure on clothing per child in some of the biggest European markets:

euros in Germany
euros in France
euros in Italy
euros in Spain
euros in the Netherlands
euros in Sweden

Despite the slow annual growth in the number of children in Europe, there are still promising prospects for the children’s apparel market. Analysts at Statista anticipate an average annual growth rate of 1.48% for the market from 2023 to 2027. By 2027, the volume of children’s wear is projected to reach an impressive 11.25 billion pieces.

The unavoidable demand for children’s clothes - from hand-me-downs to brand new

While adults have the ability to limit their spending on apparel during difficult times, expenses on children’s clothing are less flexible. This is due to the fact that kids continually outgrow their clothes and require new pieces every season, and sometimes even more frequently than that.

Fashion meets growth spurts

It’s been estimated that parents go through approximately 280 clothing items for their child before their second birthday, with each item typically worn for only two to three months. No wonder baby clothes typically generate the most revenue for retailers. Toddlers and preschoolers also grow rapidly and additionally engage in exploratory activities, which means they often stain or tear their clothes, necessitating frequent replacements. School-aged children, although experiencing slower growth compared to younger age groups, require an expanding wardrobe for extracurricular activities, particularly sportswear such as swimwear, football or basketball footwear, and more.

Preloved or with love

Taking all this into account, it’s only understandable that parents actively seek ways to reduce their expenses on children’s clothes. This explains the widespread popularity of second hand children’s clothing. However, it is important to note that clothes remain popular gifts, particularly for infants and young children. Approximately 25% of all children’s wear is estimated to be gifted by grandparents, relatives, and friends – and these items are most commonly purchased new.

Identifying the true customer in kids' apparel market

Eurostat defines children as people under the age of 15. However, when discussing the children’s apparel market it’s better to lower this age to 12 years. This is because older teenagers typically transition to wearing adult clothes. This leaves us with 4 target groups:

  • Infants (0-11 months)
  • Toddlers (1-5 years)
  • Young children (5-10 years)
  • Young teenagers (10-12 years)

The leading forces behind children's clothing purchases

As mentioned earlier, a significant portion of children’s clothing is purchased by relatives and friends of the family. Nevertheless, the primary purchasers are the parents themselves, with mothers taking on a prominent role. Both men and women acknowledge that mothers bear the primary responsibility for purchasing children’s toys and clothes. However, as children grow older, their preferences begin to matter. Parents often go to great lengths to accommodate their children’s desires, particularly regarding merchandise designs featuring popular characters such as Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig for younger kids, and franchises like Harry Potter, Minecraft, and even Fortnite for older children and young teenagers. The latter group may also exhibit brand loyalty and can be influenced by social media content, particularly platforms like TikTok or YouTube.

Trends in the children’s clothing sector

Sustainable pastel pink dress for a girl

Sustainable: from second-hand to eco-friendly

As mentioned earlier, many parents are embracing the sustainable trend of purchasing second-hand clothes for their children due to practical and financial reasons. In the past year and a half, this trend has gained even more momentum due to high inflation rates. However, this same inflation has had a negative impact on the willingness to buy new sustainable clothing items for kids. Even in countries known for their eco-consciousness, like Denmark, France, and Germany, sustainability is no longer as strong of a purchasing argument. Nevertheless, it still holds relevance for consumers when shopping for kids’ apparel, as sustainable kids’ fashion is also seen as a healthier choice. The younger the child, the more likely parents are to prefer clothing made from natural materials like organic cotton, to avoid potentially harmful fabric components.

Mother and daughter in matching outfits

Mini-me: like mother, like daughter

The trend of parents wearing the same or matching clothes as their children has become popular on the high streets, thanks to celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham, and Beyoncé who have shared photos of themselves and their kids in coordinating looks. This trend has quickly caught on with parents who enjoy posting pictures of themselves and their children in matching outfits on their social media profiles. While the trend may not be highly significant for everyday clothing, brands should definitely take it into consideration when offering more festive outfits, such as attire for weddings, Christmas, or the start of the school year. 

Colorfully and elegantly dressed boy

Vibrant vibes: not just pink and blue

In recent years, there has been a shift away from the traditional blue and pink colors for boys and girls respectively. Instead, a rising trend has emerged towards more neutral and unisex colors. And this year, children’s fashion has truly come alive with an exciting and vibrant twist. Designers have wholeheartedly embraced bold and bright hues, bringing a burst of energy to kids’ clothing. The esteemed Pantone Color Institute, the global authority on colors, seems to have joined the party by announcing “Viva Magenta” as the color of the year for 2023. This cheerful shade effortlessly complements other vibrant colors, while also pairing beautifully with more subdued tones.

Let’s grow together: Partner with us for more success in children's fashion market!

Discover the power of partnership – we’re here to be your valuable allies, facilitating your success in the children’s apparel market. Our dedicated category for kids’ fashion items and special labels for sustainable and second hand products ensure that your relevant offerings shine with maximum visibility and appeal. Our platforms provide a wide range of filters, effortlessly connecting parents with specific merchandise and franchise designs that fulfill their children’s fashion dreams while helping your business thrive.

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