03/27/2012 07:58 am ET Updated May 27, 2012

Why We Should Care About Children's Fashion

The reasons we should care about children's fashion go way beyond our kids looking exceptional. Way beyond. Children's fashion is about more than aesthetics, and, for parents, it can make a bold statement about what we support, who we support, and what we want for our children.

In these days when farmer's markets and co-ops are more accessible, people are taking the opportunity to more concretely determine where their money goes, and applying that freedom to as many of their purchasing decisions as possible. More and more people are taking their money out of big farming and spending locally with growers and craftsmen in their community.

Children's fashion is going the same route. While you may not have a budding fashionista hawking her label down the block, a lot of fresh new labels are being made by parents, aunts, and uncles -- people with real faces, and real stories that aren't all that different from your own.

A lot of my favorite children's fashion labels were started (and some remain) as one-woman shows. Sometimes these women begin with little to no formal training in garment design and, with their children as inspiration, start sewing and wind up with these fantastic independent collections. From these minds come some of the most unique and adorable clothing you could ask for.

Anyone has the power to open a shop online and sell their wares, and with so many options, we as consumers are just as easily enabled to spend a bit of our hard-earned money with a fellow parent.

You may be wondering what the kids get out of fashion. By investing in a fashionable wardrobe, you are giving them more options and exposing them to new and interesting types of clothing. Consider what you're exposing their developing minds to:

  • New types of clasps and closures to practice fine motor skills on
  • New shapes, colors, and patterns to learn and enjoy
  • A larger variety of materials, each with its own set of sensory stimuli
  • Perhaps even styles of dress worn in other cultures and their shapes and motifs

With each passing day, it becomes more and more important to kids to start expressing their individuality. Attaching to a favorite piece of clothing is a common way that kids start to identify that which is part of their identity. When their clothing is simply homogenous, diluted to the point of ubiquity and consumed by as many people as possible, how can they feel like it's truly something that belongs to them?

By providing them with clothing that has more character to it, you're giving them a broader palette with which to stand out from their peers and develop a sense of their own style without having to hunt for the one thing in their closet that clashes with their outfit just to keep things interesting.

One of the things I hear a lot is "Why spend money on something that's just going to get ruined anyway?" Well, does it have to get ruined? Why not use having a special set of clothes as an incentive to foster a greater sense of responsibility? This applies to both parents and kids! Who knows, maybe some of the habits inspired by keeping clothing neat and tidy will spread to other areas of life.

Garment design, fashion, "style" -- whatever name you choose to give it -- is art, and as with other forms of art, it is a form of expression, both on the part of the designer and the people who enjoy it. And through that expression, it's possible to enrich so much -- the people who made the clothing, your own sense of consumer responsibility, and most important, the experience your child has of life and the world around them.