Kids clothes get dirty

Corporate push for grownup clothes in bad taste

by Jessalyn Randall

Kids clothes get dirty

Corporate push for grownup clothes in bad taste,

writes Jessalyn Randall

Platform shoes and backless tops. These are staples of the fashion world. But what happens when these clothes show up on playgrounds rather than the runways?

That’s what’s happening in today’s retail world. GAP commercials feature youngsters dancing to retro tunes. They are promoting the idea that kids should dress like twentysomething models.

This new fashion trend may not bother some people. For them, baggy pants simply leave lots of room for playground antics.

But many people don’t think these kinds of clothes are child’s play.

“There is no way I would let my 11-year-old daughter dress in revealing clothes,” says Tammie Sluytman. “The last thing society needs is for men to be looking at young girls in that way.”

Tina Norgaard adds, “With the way girls are dressing these days, I am so glad that I only have sons.”

But those concerns haven’t stopped advertisers from bombarding today’s children with images of over-sexed preteens.

Today’s youth has more disposable income than ever before – income that big clothing manufacturers want.

But do stores make these clothes popular or do the young consumers demand these styles? Both.

Ed Cartwright of the Canadian Marketing Associationsays ethics dictate marketing should not exploit children’s credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty.

Still, a commercial can show exactly how looking older is the coolest thing this fal1.Why wait to grow up when you can buy your age?

Retail stores such as GAP and le château are happily sell ing the complete wardrobe for the miniature adult.

Trudi Salmanian, store manager of le château, says that kiddie wear now accounts for at least 15 per cent of their overall profits. She adds that this market is rapidly growing and retailers will respond.

Social psychologist Warren Thorngate says children have always wanted to grow up fast and marketers are exploiting this desire. In fact, Thorngate says, “I wouldn’t be surprised if the desperation to be older has increased in recent years.”

These tiny adults become a mature illusion with a forgotten child underneath.

Parents may see no harm in letting their nine-year old daughter dress “sexy.”

But exposing children to revealing clothing at an early age may cause harm, says Thorngate. He also suggests that it is likely that the same children already involved in adult activities will be drawn to these types of clothing.

Children need a chance to be kids. It is vitally important to have that small window in life when image isn’t an issue. After all, how early does society want to expose the myth that appearance doesn’t matter?