Described as `unnerving’ by some but as `cute’ by others, the `mini me’ trend, where mothers and daughters dress alike, has provided fashion retailers with an opportunity to grab a bigger share of the growing childrenswear market.

For those with longer memories, the idea of ‘mini-me’ may conjure images of Laura Ashley’s matching mother and daughter dresses, but this new trend is a far cry from matching lace collars and sailor dresses. While Kim Kardashian, Miranda Kerr and Katie Holmes are getting the headlines for this trend, it’s not just for celebrities – it is reported that over two million photos have been posted on Instagram under #twinning.

So it comes as no surprise that the competition in children’s clothing is heating up. High street big hitters such as H&M, River Island and Cos, all have a selection of matching outfits so that fashionable mums can dress their daughters in their own image.

Millennial parents with increased disposable incomes, opting for smaller family sizes and heavily influenced by celebrity trends, are providing the fuel for ‘fashionising’ childrenswear. This, coupled with the fact that children are growing up faster than before and beginning to develop their own sense of identity at an earlier age, has led to a rejection of clothing lines featuring much-loved TV, cartoon and gaming characters.

This trend is leading to a lot of activity in online premium wear. In 2016, Babyshop acquired Alexandalex to form the Luxury Kids Group, a premium children’s etailer, which is expected to turnover EUR 40 million in FY16.Farfetch has launched its childrenswear division and has grown from 9 brands in March 2016 to over 70 brands. Last but not least, Childrensalon, the mom-and-pop store in Tunbridge Wells has become an online behemoth stocking over 280 luxury designer brands online.

To be successful in this emerging segment, brands and retailers should focus on the following:

Style: the apparel must be eye-catching for the ‘fashion forward’ parent and should reflect the latest trends on the catwalk and high street. The most prevalent styles for the mini-me look are classical and fun.

Quality: consumers will pay for higher priced pieces to ensure their children are sporting the most current brands and designs. However, in return they are demanding a higher quality of fabric and manufacture as well as enhanced durability.

Tone of voice: this emerging trend provides an additional opportunity to communicate with adult consumers and reinforce brand messaging. To do this well, brands need to balance their tone of voice and approach to excite both the adult and child.

While #twinning and mini-me may be fads that fade away, the emergence of a more fashion-led childrenswear proposition is here to stay and is proving to be an opportunity for new entrants, so watch this space.

Tony Reynolds