Why Can't Children's Clothing Be As Unique As The Child Wearing

  • Children are wonderful, unique beings. They are naturally imaginative, creative, inquisitive, and always looking to have fun. As a parent, I want to nurture these characteristics in every possible way. I sign my children up for experiences in art, music, sports, and play-dates. We attend special events and programs that will encourage them to think, develop, and grow into independent, free-thinking individuals who are problem solvers and decision makers. I know it is my responsibility to guide and encourage my children in the development of their own individual identity.

    By selectively exposing children to activities, museums, friends, and other age appropriate books and television shows, children are able to develop into unique, compassionate thinkers with the guidance of supportive adults. With continued adherence to this philosophy, my young children are learning how every choice and decision affects their identity and who they are becoming. While this requires time and some planning, it is easy enough...most of the time.

    One roadblock that provides me with endless frustration is shopping excursions with my children. When I visit the local shopping mall I am overwhelmed with cookie-cutter clothing, most of which is entirely inappropriate for young children. (But that's another soapbox!) The clothing I see is identical from one store to another with little variety or creativity. Where is the clothing that will support my child's need for expressing herself in a creative, unique way? Where is the children's clothing which offers children individuality as opposed to the mass-marketed, trendy fashions?

    As an adult, I have a plethora of clothing choices. I can usually find the styles that appeal to my artistic side. I can find one-of-a-kind pieces, wearable art that is hand painted, hand knit, or creatively designed which helps me to represent my personality through my image. I love finding clothing that reflects who I am whether it's through the color, the style, or even how I choose to combine the various pieces to make an outfit. I expect clothing to let me reflect who I am...why can't I expect that for my children's clothing as well?

    So why is so hard to find children's clothing that can reflect a child's personality? Baby and children's apparel is a huge, growing market with annual sales in the billions. It is all too easy to find clothing manufacturers that like to sell "trendy" and "fashionable" children's clothing, but where are the manufacturers that value "unique clothing" for children?

    When I have to buy clothes for my children, I despise going to any retail store or shopping mall. The clothes I find are either adult styles that are often too provocative, poor quality, or I have seen them on every child walking through the mall. Children deserve more than that. Like adults, they deserve choice. Children should be able to choose clothing as unique as their own personality, interests, dreams, and desires. If we start offering variety to parents of infants we encourage individuality from the start. With variety and choice, we are teaching children that being unique is not only good, it is right. As adults we value each child as being special, and children's clothing can strengthen their sense of self and their self esteem.

    So to find clothing that my children love and I approve of, we search high and low. My children love colorful clothing with whimsical characters, bold patterns, and unique textures. I love seeing my children in clothing that is different than the mass-marketed "trendy" styles. I cheer when my children pick unique fashions that help them discover more of who they are and who they want to be. Clothing may not make the man (or woman or boy or girl), but it can help develop the identity and individuality of the child and strengthen their sense of self, preparing them for their future.

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