There are two very clear divisions in the children’s clothing market in France; the first is for baby clothes, up to 2 years old and then the segment from 2 to 14.
The market for baby clothing is currently over 1’12 billion making one of the most dynamic in the ready-to-wear segment. The birth rate in France is the highest in Europe and figures suggest that spending on clothes in the first two years is €666. This makes it a very attractive market even for the medium to higher priced sector which equally buoyant in on-line sales.
The ranges for baby clothing include: under-shirts; polo shirts; and jerseys, whilst children’s clothing covers skirts and dresses for girls; trousers for both boys and girls; outfits and suits. The materials used are equally diverse, with cotton being the most popular.
The market is dominated by specialised chains (franchises, shops belonging to a buying group, and independent chains. Other participants in the market, though not specialised and usually offering lower prices are: Carrefour; Kiabi; la Halle; etc. some of these are now promoting departments specialising in baby clothing such La Halle Enfant.
A younger set of new designers is trying to make their mark on the sector in which the competition between the key players is cut-throat.
The sub-sector of clothing aimed at the baby market is one of opportunities today, mainly derived from the development of childcare. Brands are fighting for market share and to build brand loyalty amongst new clients and by expanding their ranges to include teenagers and young adults (Jacadi, Bonpoint, Petit Bateau). On the other hand, brands previously seen as producers of children’s clothing are expanding into the baby market a clear indication of which would be ‘ID Kids or Babycare by Orchestra.
As far as distribution is concerned, the principal channels for children’s fashion are chains of specialised shops and the supermarkets. Small independent shops tend to be associated with buying groups which gives them the clout they need with the manufacturers. In both cases, sales agents play an important role.