Llamas are surging and almost catching up to unicorns in the popularity race that is kids' clothing trends. So say some marketers of tyke's togs who claim that while the ubiquitous magical creature has a real-life competitor, it's still beloved by children. But the llama-unicorn rivalry is far from the only thing happening in children's apparel this season.
Fruit is in, emojis are out and mermaid mania is sinking - that's according to Sari Sloane, founder of Everafter, the trendy boutique for kids ages 4-16 at Wheatley Plaza in Greenvale, N.Y. "The fruit trend manifests in many ways, mostly with citrus fruits like lemon and orange, along with strawberries and cherries," she says.
Then come the colors.
"Anything tie-dye is a top seller for both boys and girls. All things rainbow have been increasingly popular for girls," she says. Meanwhile, flowers are blooming (for boys, too) and the surfer-skater-street style trend lives on for the fellas with a summery nod to sea creatures.
Surprisingly, the kids themselves (even as young as 4 years old) are hip to the trends, says Stacey Fraser, the owner of the Pink Chicken brand and boutiques, one of which is in Amagansett.
"The kids know exactly what they want. They'll walk into the store and sometimes they'll run to a rack and take things into the dressing room by themselves, without their parents." Sloane says.
At Pink Chicken, artful "conversational" prints are sought-after, include a crocodile and a dress done up in vintage dog illustrations. Here, stripes are big this season, particularly in "bright, strong colors," she says.
Girlie-girl dresses have also returned to the forefront.
In February, twin 4-year-old social media sensations Mila and Emma Stauffer (they have four million followers on the Instagram account of their mom, Katie Stauffer, @KCStauffer) introduced M & E, a nine-piece collection for Target of feminine frocks and two-piece outfits that have a throwback vibe.
"I always found joy dressing my kids in adorable handmade costumes and cute outfits and my followers did, too," says Stauffer.
Also popular: Text messages of sorts appearing on plenty of tops these days, ranging from funny phrases to empowering rallying cries. Per Sloane, sayings about girl power and love are in demand.
But back to the unicorn vs. llama debate. Fraser says the unicorn is forever and llama love is waning. "The unicorn is not over. It's something that girls are always going to love. It will never go away," she predicts.
But Sloane believes that the llama has found its place in the sun (and the closets).
"While unicorns have continued to be a top seller for us season after season, llamas are just the next interpretation of them," she says. "It's everywhere, and they're so super cute, what's not to love?"
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