Childrens Underwear Lets Kids be Kids

Published: 03rd March 2009
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In today's fashion savvy society, it is not surprising to see children's fashions have been increasingly becoming a major niche in the fashion industry. Fashion conscious parents seek to have their children also follow suit and follow the trends. As a direct link, children's underwear has come a long way over recent generations to meet the needs of children and to let them be just that - children in all their active, sensitive and novel ways.

Historically, children's underwear reflected the views for children that rarely included play as a major aspect of their lives. Clothing was stiff, tailored, uncomfortable and meant for appearances. The idea that children should be "seen and not heard" was echoed in their clothes. During the early 20th Century, girls' and boys' underwear was manufactured from wool and cotton (probably starched). Although today's underwear also is primarily cotton, the early cotton underwear did not have nearly the softness and comfort level that today's does. All-in-one union suits, slips, petticoats, cotton drawers, chambray bloomers and draw-string drawers, often with lace trim at the legs, made for considerably uncomfortable underwear for children.

In the 80 plus years since then, the advances in comfort development in men's and women's underwear fortunately transferred to children's underwear also. Underwear now washes more easily, is more attractive, lightweight, and durable, and less prone to induce irritation. For active children and their parents these are significant benefits. Designers today can create more subtle changes in the style of the underwear now that the hardiness and comfort features have been addressed.

Major current labels for children's underwear include Hanes (made visible by Basketball legend Michael Jordan), Jockey, and Fruit of the Loom. Boys' underwear under these labels generally includes briefs and boxer briefs. Colors and patterns are often conservative solids, camouflage, novelty prints or character underwear with movie and cartoon images such as Batman and Scooby Doo. Jockey's website claims their underwear has "fun prints for your little man". Girls' underwear styles include hipsters, briefs, low-rise briefs and bikinis. Colors and patterns cover pastel solids, stripes and juvenile prints, in addition to the character underwear of Dora the Explorer and Disney Princesses. Fruit of the Loom claims their girls can now have "Underwear that's fun to wear". All these styles are age appropriate, relatively conservative and thankfully not pushing children to grow up ahead of their time in the same way that some outer wear fashion seems to do. However, they are not particularly creative in their designs and colors and consequently leave the market wide open for something novel to enter this narrow niche in underwear design.

Alenver Inc, a new competitor in the underwear market for men's and women's underwear saw this opening and just launched their kids' collection as part of the 2009 MAGIC Marketplace International Fashion Trade event. The originally men's only fashion event (Men's Apparel Guild in California) had its root in 1933 and has since expanded to include more areas of fashion including women's, apparel sourcing, and green fashion. Children's wear was launched in 1997 as MAGICkids with the purchase of the Children's Trade Expo.

Alenver's kid's collection of boxer briefs echoes the men's and womens' collections with bright strong colors (red, black, white and grey for kids) and their signature wide elastic waist bands with one word messages that are reversed for the wearer to see in the mirror. While the men's and women's messages are age appropriate with YENOM, TCEPSER, and RAEF ON, the children's message is also age appropriate with LIL GOON (LIL GANGSTER) - referring to the little rascals that children are. Alenver's fun take on children's underwear with a message is reflected in a recent photo shoot featuring a half dozen Alenver-clad Lilliputian children pulling on the anchoring ropes of the giant Gulliver. If ever there were an example of children's underwear with playful children in mind - then this would be it. Additionally, the cut of the material: 5% elastane for shape retention and fit with 95% pure cotton from the world's best Peruvian cotton for comfort is a design and manufacture feature from the men's and women's collections that has carried over into the children's collections and meets their active childlike needs perfectly.

For children, the developing fashion industry must remember that being a kid is all about fun and not only fostering fashion. In a world where adults rue the fact that their children are growing up too quickly, losing their innocent ignorance and not experiencing the power of play, it is an encouraging thing to see a designer with this in mind and seemingly effortlessly combining fun and fashion in their latest collection for children.
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