Key Trends in the US Childrenswear and Children’s Footwear Market

January 2023

US childrenswear and footwear showed greater resilience than wider apparel and footwear facing the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 and economic uncertainties in 2022. Fashion players, especially mid- to high-value players, are progressively relaunching childrenswear and introducing new collections. Catering to parents’ and children’s changing behaviour is increasingly critical as the market is more crowded than before and the US birth rate is expected to remain static and then decline from now to 2040.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Greater resilience than the wider fashion industry amid uncertainties

The US childrenswear and children’s footwear industry showed greater resilience than the wider US apparel and footwear industry when facing the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 and economic uncertainties in 2022. Declines were more moderate in both value and volume terms, as children grow rapidly, and most parents prioritise their children’s needs before theirs when budgets are limited.

Concentrated children’s footwear versus fragmented childrenswear

The US childrenswear market is relatively fragmented, with the top five companies combined accounting for 27% of the market in 2022. The market share of the leader, Carter’s Inc, has been declining since 2017 due to the growth of Shein, high-quality childrenswear, and second-hand products. By contrast, children’s footwear is dominated by sportswear players, in particular Nike.

Demand for wellness and body positivity continues to grow

US parents’ increasing concerns for health/wellness, along with more flexible working arrangements and willingness to spend more time with children, have promoted their spending on sportswear products to support their children’s play. Body positivity has also been attracting interest, driven by increased ethnic diversity, rising obese child populations, and parents’ concerns for children’s wellness.

Digitalisation: From social media-driven fashion to the metaverse

As parents are increasingly influenced by posts on social media, players have begun to shift their marketing efforts towards social media and are launching modern collections to meet demand for “mommy and me” and matching family outfits. Beyond this, US childrenswear players are eyeing the metaverse to enhance engagement with the next generation of consumers.

Intense pressure to adapt to parents’ growing demand for sustainability

Responding to parents’ growing awareness of, and concerns about environmental and social issues, childrenswear players are increasingly blending sustainability into their business strategies. However, in the US, the sustainability and circularity implementation process within childrenswear still lags that of adult fashion, due to a lack of momentum from leading players.

Executive summary
Substantial recovery in 2021, but then dragged by economic uncertainties
Childrenswear and children’s footwear show greater resilience than the wider fashion industry
US continues to lead the global childrenswear and children’s footwear market
Girl’s apparel drives and will continue to drive US childrenswear growth
Mid and high-value segment is gradually increasing its share
US childrenswear is led by Carter’s Inc, although its market share is declining
The US children’s footwear market is becoming increasingly concentrated
Examining five trends shaping US childrenswear and children’s footwear
Parents’ interests in health and wellness fuel demands for children’s sportswear
Jordan Brand introduces 23/7, a shoe designed for children’s experience
H&M launches the new brand, H&M Move with sportswear collections for children
Trends among young parents: Continued growth in fashion purchases on smartphone
Trends among young parents: Heavy usage of social media and need for fashionable items
Michael Kors launches first childrenswear collection
Old Navy: From “mommy and me” fashion to family matching outfits
Digital living: Childrenswear players are entering the metaverse
OshKosh B’gosh enters the metaverse with Super League Gaming
H&M launches H&M Loooptopia, a Roblox game that promotes circular fashion
Attitudes to sustainability among US parents, and fashion players’ actions
Conscious parents drive growth in sustainable childrenswear in the US
Carter’s launches its first children’s clothing recycling programme with TerraCycle
Gerber Childrenswear launches new conscious clothing line
Awareness of body positivity reflects US parents’ increasing involvement in social issues
Abercrombie & Fitch adds size-inclusive denim for children
Tommy Hilfiger stands apart and proves adaptive fashion is working
Opportunity and risk: US cities with high disposable incomes and birth rates
Opportunity and risk: Avoiding controversial campaigns is a must-have
Recommendations to gain a viable foothold in the US childrenswear and footwear market

Apparel and Footwear

Apparel is the aggregation of clothing and footwear. This dataset covers retail sales of apparel through both store-based retailers and non-store retailers. Excludes black market sales (i.e. untaxed, generated within informal retailing)and duty free sales (travel retail). Items must be new when sold to the consumer; second-hand/used items are excluded. Antique and/or vintage clothing and footwear is also excluded.

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