Kids Clothing: Where do we draw the line?

Most children are eager to grow up quickly. And most love to copy the grown ups around them. But at what point is a heel too high? Or a style too sexy? Where do we draw the line on adult brands crossing over to kids clothing?

The modern day environment in which our kids are growing up is full of full-on adult imagery. We are after all a highly sophisticated society in terms of media and consumerism, and this is quite literally fashioning our children’s viewpoint on how they should/want to look. Sheena Horgan, ethics & youth specialist examines the issue of children’s fashion and retail:

Where do we draw the line on adult brands crossing over to kids’ clothing? And when should a witty slogan raise concern rather than an eyebrow?  I guess what I’m asking is, do we need a dress code for our kids?

Well several years of in depth research into all aspects of childhood including fashion and retail, led the UK government to instigate their report “Letting Kids Be Kids” (the Bailey Review). This called on the retail industry to produce a code that would deal with the problem of unsuitable and overtly adult clothing and accessories being marketed and sold to children in British retail stores.

Since its publication in June of last year, I’ve called on the Irish government and industry to consider the UK reports and if the codes could/should be applied here.  Now Retail Ireland has said it’s going to look at the BRC code. It’s a start. And a good one.

But here’s my caveat, a code is only as good as its integrity. Guidelines followed to the letter and not the spirit tend to fall short of their responsibilities. And in this case a code that sits in a file rather than being worn as a badge of honour is not fit for purpose.

If the codes are adopted, tailored for Irish consumers, and with genuinely robust review and policing procedures, then they will reflect retailers’ appreciation of parents’ concerns. And if they are promoted and widely communicated with proper feedback/complaints systems, then they will really embrace retailers’ corporate citizenship and inevitably generate goodwill, PR and good business.

Check out the BRC guidelines yourself and see what you think.  I’d be interested to hear your views.

Sheena Horgan is a youth & ethics specialist and Senior Consultant at Keating & Associates. 

You might also like reading Best Retailers for Kids Clothing as recommended by parents

Over to you now, what’s your views on kids clothing? Tell us in the comments below.


Tagged under

Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls