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Stella McCartney is yet again expanding her brand’s reach — and her latest target audience is the grade-school set.
McCartney’s first full children’s wear collections, done in collaboration with GapKids and babyGap, will be launched Nov. 2 at select Gap stores in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France and Japan. The 70-piece line, which McCartney said she designed to “find a kind of balance between Stella as in what I do for adults…and how I see kids, really,” takes inspiration from both the design signature McCartney has developed in her own collections and her practical experience as a mother of three.
“I guess I tackled it in the same way I would one of my own ready-to-wear collections, but then the challenge was, ‘OK, I’ve got to get into the same mind-set of a kid and what they might like,’” said McCartney as she stood on the sidelines of the campaign shoot for the collection — which stars a host of children posing with baby animals — at a London studio in late summer. “It’s quite a good thing to have kids when you’re designing a kids’ collection, to be aware that they actually have their own point of view.”
To wit, McCartney made sure the fabrics she’s used in the collection — such as organic cotton, cashmere and wool — aren’t “scratchy,” and has incorporated fun elements to entice children as much as their parents. A T-shirt printed with a superhero design — which McCartney’s four-year-old son Miller approved — and a pair of white high-top sneakers can both be customized with a set of colored markers sold alongside the garments. There are also pajamas that come in a dinosaur-print bag for boys, along with tulle tutu skirts in caramel and pistachio and a faded mint silk party dress embroidered with silk flowers for girls. (The collection’s sizes run from newborn to children up to age 12).
But practical pieces feature in the collection, too, such as a navy wool peacoat and organic denim jeans for boys and silk collarless shirts and organic cotton T-shirts for girls. “I think in kids’ wear a lot of the time they give one point of view…and that’s not how kids are,” said McCartney. “You want to mix and match, otherwise kids look too twee or too streety.”
And in keeping with McCartney’s vegetarian principles, the shoes she’s designed, which include sneakers and shiny gray rain boots, are all made without leather. “A big part of the excitement for me was not just the clothes but the shoes,” said McCartney. “Because so many people had said to me, ‘I can’t get shoes for my kids that aren’t leather.’”
Meanwhile, some of the pieces are mini-me versions of designs from McCartney’s rtw collections. There’s a gray sweater dress knit with an intarsia leopard design — which appeared full-size in the designer’s fall 2009 collection — along with skinny gray jeans with ankle zippers and a snug gray cable-knit cardigan dress.