Dressing Your Baby Like A Star

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Thu, 2008-05-15 07:57.
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Adriana Serio is into celebrity fashion. She recently got a $28 pair of pink Mary Jane shoes by Robeez after the daughter of actress and former Miss USA Ali Landry was photographed wearing them.

Adriana can't put her enthusiasm into words. She's only nine months old. But her mother, Gina Serio, who bought the shoes, admits to her own fascination with what celebrities' babies are wearing.

The 32-year-old Springfield, N.J., mother of two logs on to www.celebrity-babies.com whenever she's looking for something nice for her kids. Recently, she ordered a hair clip she saw worn by the infant daughter of "Dancing With the Stars" co-host Samantha Harris. Ms. Serio admits her fascination with celebrity babies is "sick, really sick."

An industry of magazines and blogs chronicles and critiques what the stars wear. But this is a new crease. To the delight of entrepreneurs, it turns out a lot of people are willing to spend money dressing their little ones like Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, the 2-year-old daughter of actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Suri Cruise, the 2-year-old daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, is also a role model.

It's hard to pin down what's behind this fascination with the sartorial splendor of celebrity offspring. Are the stars having more babies? A large number of A-list actresses did get pregnant at about the same time. And more of them are willing to share intimate details of their family lives. Magazines are willing to pay for exclusive baby pictures. Baby pictures sell magazines.

Then, too, a national baby boom seems to be aborning. In 2006, there were 4.3 million babies born in the U.S., the largest number since 1961, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New parents these days are generally older and have more discretionary income. The result: Sales of clothing for kids three and under grew 11.2% last year, compared with 2.9% for the overall apparel market, according to market researcher NPD Group.

Antoinette Collins, a 26-year-old administrative assistant in Dayton, Ohio, says she bought a $25 pack of camouflage-print socks after seeing rocker couple Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale's 2-year-old son, Kingston Rossdale, knocking around London in his socks. Now, Ms. Collins's son, Jase, who is five months old, "can be just as hot as any celebrity baby," his mother says.

New York grandmother-to-be Lynn Rubin says she peruses magazines for movie-star product tips.

She first noticed Bugaboo strollers, which range in price from $529 to $899, plus optional accessories, when Gwyneth Paltrow and Courteney Cox Arquette were shown pushing them around in photos in People and US Weekly. "Now they're all over the streets," says Ms. Rubin, who is eagerly clipping photos from magazines in anticipation of her first grandchild, due in October.

"In the 1990s, everyone wanted to know about handbags," says US Weekly editor in chief Janice Min. "Now it's all about, 'What stroller is Naomi Watts's child in?' " According to the Celebrity Baby Blog, the actress's infant son, Sasha, rides "in a Strider 3 Steelcraft in slate ($449)."

US Weekly, which devotes a lot of space to celebrities and their babies, nevertheless steers clear of naming brands children are wearing. Ms. Min says she finds the practice "incredibly grotesque" when expensive designer wear is involved. "I don't want to equate accessorization as the equivalent to other qualities," like loving one's children, says Ms. Min.

To be sure, not every mom is on board with celebrity baby style. "Holy moly," says Amy Hebert, a 33-year-old human-resources executive from Brooklyn, N.Y., who recently logged on to the Celebrity Baby Blog for the first time. "I can't believe people spend their time obsessing over how other people dress their kids."

Ms. Hebert dresses her 2½-year-old daughter, Hailey, either in hand-me-downs from relatives or in the latest styles from Wal-Mart and Kohl's. She says she'd rather have a college fund for Hailey than stock up on $50 T-shirts to compete with the more fashion-forward tots in her neighborhood. "I don't even spend that much on my own clothes," she says.

Celebrity-Babies.com, which gets 10 million page views a month, is unapologetic. The site posts photographs of celebrities and their babies, and tells fans what the babies are wearing, with links to stores where the clothes can be purchased.

The site can incite runs on hot items. Jennifer Cattaui, owner of the Manhattan baby boutique Babesta, was mystified last summer when 16 red T-shirts by the brand Harajuku Lovers flew out of her store in a few hours. She later saw pictures of 3-year-old Zahara Jolie-Pitt wearing the shirt in magazines.

Celebrity-Babies.com had posted the same photos. The shirts came in various colors, but customers cared only about the red one, because that's the one Ms. Jolie's daughter had.

"Zahara rocked the look," Ms. Cattaui says.

Site founder Danielle Friedland, 32, says she can identify a stroller's make and model by examining a baby picture taken by a paparazzo, with just half a wheel in the corner of the photo. With the help of readers, she was able to identify actress Jennifer Garner's breast pump, a $290 limited-edition Medela, after spotting a photo of her toting it around in a blue bag on the set of the movie "The Kingdom."

When she launched the blog in January 2004, Ms. Friedland thought of it as a lark. The former Avon Products executive assistant had tried writing a blog about knitting. She says it was boring. When she later noticed how actresses like Marcia Gay Harden were showing off the pregnant look at the 2004 Golden Globes, her husband, Josh Friedland, suggested she write about it. "I didn't think this would be interesting to anybody but me," she says.

On the contrary, Celebrity-Babies.com is now fueling sales of baby fashions, accessories and other products like strollers and diaper bags. Last year it drew about $500,000 in advertising from big companies including Verizon, McDonald's and General Motors, which want to reach the site's demographic: 99% female and 95% between the ages of 18 and 39.

Recently, Ms. Friedland's 2½-year-old daughter, Anya, has become a celebrity herself. Companies often send Anya free clothes and accessories in exchange for small ads on the site. And photos of Anya are periodically posted with captions describing her outfits.

While Anya and her dad were shopping in Manhattan, an avid reader of Celebrity-Babies.com spotted them and introduced herself.

Mr. Friedland admits he finds it "kind of weird" that his daughter has become a fashion plate.

[Via - StartupJournal.Com]

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