Children’s wear – a recession buster for clothing brands in the Gulf market

Children’s wear has turned out to be the great recession-buster for retailers, and easily outstripping the growth patterns recorded in women’s and menswear. Both international brands and home-grown retail majors are seeing the value in that.

“We feel that in a depressed marketplace where consumption is going down, families need to reduce their spending on wear,” said Javier de Rivera, director at the Spanish children label Gocco. It has just opened the first dedicated outlet in Dubai as part of a move into overseas markets.
“The first reductions are usually seen in home textiles, then men and women’s wear. It is only at the end that children wear sees a reduction.”

It was clearly the case in 2009 and thereafter. So much so, major local fashion retail chains are looking for tie-ups with new international names and expanding their merchandising options for children.

It’s a slightly different story at Angels, the dedicated children’s wear stores operated by the Rivoli Group. There a shopper gets to see some distinctive names in the fashion business — Dior, John Galliano, Kenzo and Ferrari. It’s upscale all the way.

Ravi Rao, group general manager at Rivoli who oversees Angels, says the returns are becoming quite favourable. “As of last year, the Angels operation is standing on its own in terms of not requiring financial support from the parent company,” said Rao. “We have a base of eight shops, predominantly in Dubai and with plans to add more in Abu Dhabi.

“While we have ranges up to ten years, we find that the 0-2 years is a very powerful segment for us.”

For local mall operators, they can’t seem to get enough of children’s brands, irrespective of which price range they fall in. These outlets manage to pull in steady traffic throughout the year and do not see the demand fluctuations that occur in women’s fashion.


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