Ready for a Cute Overload This Spring? Kidcore is Coming

Why Kidcore is Fashion's Latest ObsessionDavid Schulze

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They say that good things come in small packages, but what if the package itself has shrunk to minuscule proportions? I am gazing at an itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny lavender sequined Fendi Nano Baguette, a thing that might have been intended for Alice in Wonderland after she sipped from that suspicious bottle. This item, which has more in common with a tabletop decoration than a functioning reticule, would be hard put to accommodate a hairbrush; a cellphone would dwarf it.

If you think this adorable purse is a one-off, you are wrong. It is joined this season by a glut of winsome mini bag buddies, from a Gucci Horsebit purse to Bottega Veneta’s Cassette cross-body to the Jacquemus pastel mini top handle Le Chiquito. Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Delvaux are among the many ­others who have gotten into the act, reissuing their classics in sizes that would suit a preschooler’s paw.

To what do we owe this surprising trend, just when we are feeling so power­ful, so indomitable, so ready to slay giants? I am, may I state modestly, the perfect person to deconstruct this phenomenon. Is my Instagram handle not ­@babylynnieland? Have I not gazed longingly in the windows of Bonpoint and Jacadi, wishing those smocked Liberty of London frocks, those pastel tweed coats with the velvet collars, those ruby Mary Janes, were available in my size? I am, I confess, that rare grown-up who gleefully buys her accessories in the Gucci baby department. And I am not alone in my penchant for turning the hands of time way, way, way back. No less a fashion eminence than Miuccia Prada once had an exclusive tailor of children’s clothing in Milan scale up some dresses and coats for her.

gucci twinsburg runway milan fashion week springsummer 2023
Gremlins, the popular ’80s children’s movie, was a recurring motif at Gucci. Daniele Venturelli - Getty Images

The apparent desire to be a babe in Toyland has stretched its tentacles far beyond the realm of handbagdom. It may have originated as a response to pandemic-­induced ennui, but companies as disparate as Lego and Build-a-Bear have introduced merchandise intended for adult customers. Even that bastion of preteen birthday bashes, the restaurant at Mattel’s American Girl store, now serves wine. A cohort known in the retail industry as “kidults” bought 24 percent of all toys between June 2021 and June 2022, about two-thirds of the dollar growth in the sector, according to the research firm NPD.

Fashion houses have even given the trend a name: kidcore. Consider the London designer Molly Goddard. I have happily flounced around in her tulle tutus, but even I am slightly reluctant to don her Twinky tee, which is emblazoned with a winged pony and his furry friends. Comme des Garçons recently offered a voluminous skirt featuring a Mickey Mouse print topped with a clear polyester overskirt (so you don’t drool on it?). Valentino’s 2022–3 fall/winter collection was an homage to neon pink. Go ahead, ask any five-year-old what her favorite color is. Then ask her if she’s going to see Greta Gerwig’s revisionist Barbie movie starring Margot Robbie this summer.

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Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Greta Gerwig’s upcoming film Barbie.MEGA - Getty Images
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Thom Browne’s show last spring had an audience of 400 teddy bears occupying the best seats. The jeweler Jean Prounis sometimes shows her creations in a dollhouse made by the artist and miniaturist Carmen Mazarrasa. (At a recent press event I spent a happy hour sipping champagne—something adults get to do!—and making up stories about the various gems who inhabit the house.)

Maybe these widdle tings owe their popularity to the fantasy that you are so well fixed that you have a limo stuffed with your stuff at your beck and call at all times, or that your humble valet is forever hiding in the shadows carrying your phone and other big-girl requirements.

Perhaps they evoke vestigial memories of those halcyon days before the real world set in—no work! No school! Nothing to do but play all day! Or maybe the explanation is simpler. Like puppies, kittens, and human infants, miniature iterations of the full-grown genuine article are just ridiculously cute.

So go ahead, dangle a Lilliputian Kelly bag from your eager fingers. Pretty soon you will have to venture out into the cold, cruel world lugging a humongous tote overflowing with all those nasty necessities toddlers don’t need to worry about: running shoes! Hand sanitizer! Moisturizer and mascara! Your iPad! Your iPhone! Who can blame you if, for a hot minute, you revel in a teeny tiny version of your best self?

Top image: From left: Thom Browne Hector Baguette ($2,200), Chanel Evening Bag ($8,600) and Necklace ($2,975), 800-550-0005. Gucci Teddy Bear Minaudiere ($49,000).

This story appears in the February 2023 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW

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