One in five US parents are supporting gender neutral clothing for kids, reveals new research for Mintel, as parents with children under 12 look to shift away from gender stereotypical apparel.

The research reveals that support for gender neutral children’s clothing is especially high among Younger Millennial parents aged 23-30 (24 percent) and urban parents (25 percent).

“One of the most popular trends in children’s clothing right now is gender neutrality and kid’s clothing brands need to be cognisant of the new gender-neutral standard. By creating products that are for boys and girls, brands can reach more consumers and have more opportunity to increase their profits,” said Diana Smith, associate director, retail and apparel at Mintel. “The children’s clothing market will always be challenged by the reality that children quickly outgrow their clothes, and as such, parents are weary about spending more than necessary on new apparel. Our research reveals the areas of greatest opportunity for brands exists with kids under age six given that this segment should experience growth as birth rates begin to stabilise.”

The children’s clothing market is expected to rise 1.7 percent to reach 46.1 billion dollars in 2017, with infant/toddler clothing predicted to see “impressive growth” over the next five years, said Mintel.

Currently, the infant/toddler segment is the smallest sector with less than 10 billion dollars, or 20 percent of total category sales, however, it is slated to grow at a pace equivalent to that for girls’ clothing – 1.5 percent on average annually from 2017-21.

Girls’ clothing still makes up the highest percentage (48 percent) of the total children’s clothing sector, with sales expected to rise 1.8 percent in 2017 to reach 21.9 billion dollars, while boys’ clothing sales account for nearly one-third (32 percent) and are predicted to remain steady this year with a slight uptick of 1.9 percent to reach 14.9 billion dollars.

Basic wardrobe staples such as T-shirts (73 percent), jeans (68 percent) and underwear (67 percent) make up the majority of clothing items purchased for both boys and girls, closely followed by pyjamas (62 percent). Sleepwear is also the second most commonly purchased item for children ages five and under (72 percent). In addition, character clothing continues to be popular, with more than a quarter (28 percent) of parents claiming to ‘buy a lot’ of these items.

“As society’s ‘rules’ regarding how to dress have relaxed significantly in the past decade, casual and comfortable clothing items, such as sleepwear and athletic wear, are often prioritised over others, and we don’t anticipate this trend fading away anytime soon. Popular characters also can be very influential on children, who in turn can influence parents to buy clothing and other merchandise containing their favourite movie characters or superheroes,” added Smith.

 

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