By  on August 17, 2009

With the economic doldrums expected to linger, it’s not surprising that the overriding children’s apparel fashion trend for next spring and summer is giving customers good value.

Take the label Grace 4 Girlz: “All the clothes are reversible. You get a lot for your money,” said Kristen Borden, whose fashions are bowing at the trade show. Made in Los Angeles of 95 percent organic cotton and 5 percent spandex, there are seven silhouettes and four colors — out of which 200 different outfits can be fashioned. The garments for 2- to 6-year-olds also come with collectible appliqués with happy messages. Wholesale prices are $8 to $34.

Other examples of double-duty garments include lightweight toppers with novelty prints, embroidery or dropped waists, used as alternatives to outerwear and blazers to accessorize outfits. “It’s all about apparel’s versatility and multiple uses, from play to school,”said Jamie Ross, a creative director and trend forecaster for The Doneger Group.

The narratives behind children’s fashions for the season also reference happier times in America, like a Fifties-candy-store theme for girls that has full skirts with tulle petticoats in pink and mint and prints of lollipops and candy stripes, Ross said.

Other designs include prairie and rustic Americana looks for girls, such as peasant blouses and skirts in soft calico, gingham and Liberty prints. For boys, this theme includes durable work pants and overalls fit for an early-20th-century factory worker, and faded Western prints and plaids with dungarees.

The Eighties are also being recast for all kids, as in bold graphic T-shirts and “Flashdance” sweatshirts using geometric patterns, colorblocking and stripes of bright colors such as grape and turquoise.

Additionally, rich colors — including orange, fuchsia, teal, purple and deep red — are emphasized in a retro pan-ethnic look, such as Mexican-inspired striped serape dresses for girls and shirts for boys.

“You might have Mexican embroidery, but over an African print, and the color is from Cuba,” said Lilly Berelovich, president of New York-based forecaster Fashion Snoops.

Another girl-and-boy spring trend is clothing that looks like you’ve embellished, patched or colored yourself, Berelovich said. “It’s happening now with adults, and it’s coming from the mommy bloggers.”

Fashion perks — belts with pants, leggings with tunics, three pairs of leggings for the price of one and fake-layered T-shirts — also will be key in apparel vendor lineups a year from now. “It gives customers the sense of getting more for their money,” Ross said.

Getting a twofer is part of the message behind new sterling silver necklaces with pendants of ice cream cones, bubble hearts and rainbows, by girls’ accessory company High IntenCity, based in Fair Lawn, N.J.

Called Charm Candy, the necklaces, which wholesale for $9, are nested in a bakery box inside a reusable cupcake liner and with a recipe. “Anyone buying the gift is getting a tremendous value,” said marketing associate Jacquelyn Doran-Blauvelt.

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