Spielwarenmesse: Fashion & toys: connecting two industries

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Fashion & toys: connecting two industries

from Maria Costa

Fashion and Toys – the two apparently very different industries are influencing each other greatly nowadays. The most important fashion brands are embracing children as a target group, collaborating with well-established toy companies to create innovative clothing, and even playthings. At the same time, toy businesses are looking at the fashion world for inspiration more than ever.

The fashion industry inspired by and targeting children

Fashion brands look into the children’s world to get inspired, to really innovate their adult couture collections. A wonderful example is the Legends and Fairy Tales collection that Karl Lagerfeld created for the 90th anniversary of Fendi in 2016 based on the children’s classic tales from the book East of the Sun and West of the Moon illustrated by Kay Nielsen.

This amazingly beautiful collection is an example of the extraordinary creativity fashion brands are extracting from all sorts of children’s products.

Halloween Collection by H&M

But more than just being inspired by them, there has been a relevant trend during the last few years in which adult’s iconic fashion brands are focusing on creating their own children’s line. The trend has impacted all sorts of fashion companies, from high-end design brands such as Gucci or Versace, to mainstream distributors such as Primark or Zara. There is no doubt, children as a target group have been gaining importance in the fashion industry.

But beyond designing apparel, many companies are starting to expand in a way that they are becoming direct competitors to our industry. For instance, H&M is launching a line of clothing that can be used as a costume for Halloween as well as in daily life. They also sell, along with several clothing distributors, hairbands with ears, wands and other accessories that make everyday dressing more fun and playful.

The fashion industry selling toys

Some apparel companies are targeting children directly by developing toys. Dolce&Gabbana created in 2017 their DG Family toys, featuring the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana as figures children can play with. Balenciaga was selling exclusively at Colette their line of Cuddly Stuffed Animal Toys. Others such as Burberry, Prada or Givenchi also have stuffed animals, wooden toys, or figures with their signature.

Toy companies collaborating with fashion brands

While the fashion industry is expanding their business towards ours, toy companies are doing the same as well. For many years now, Barbie has been dressed and accessorized by the most popular designers, just to name some; Christian Dior (1995), Givenchy (2000), Giorgio Armani (2003), Versace (2004), Carolina Herrera (2005), Moschino (2015, 2016), or Oscar de la Renta (2016). Urban vinyl figures have also been decorated by brands and designers from all over the world. Versions from Bearbrick by brands such as Coco Chanel arrive to prices of thousands of euros at auction. Rick Owens, Versace among others customized My Little Pony (Hasbro) for a charity project.

There are many other interesting ways of collaborating with the fashion industry. For instance, the campaign in which Steiff created a limited edition of 2,500 Karl Lagerfeld teddy bears in 2010. Their success resulted in them collaborating again with the designer last year, this time to launch Choupette, a plush toy inspired by Karl Lagerfeld’s pet cat, into the market.

The Karl Lagerfeld Bear

Another great example is by Charlotte Olympia, a British luxury shoe brand who started their Incy line of shoes for little girls in 2013. Under the children’s line, they have launched footwear in collaboration with Crayola, a pair of original chic shoes that can be decorated with Crayola’s markers.

Incy Cool Cat Crayola, Charlotte Olympia
Incy Cool Cat Crayola, Charlotte Olympia

Mutual inspiring industries

The children’s world is being used as a great source of inspiration by the best fashion designers. Fashion brands also see a huge potential on targeting the little ones. Toy companies should be aware that the inspiration can go both ways and looking at the fashion industry, their designers and icons can really give us ideas on how to create toys and games that are appealing to the highly-fashionable-influenced current audience.


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spielwarenmesse eG.

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Author of this article:

Maria Costa, AIJU

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