by: Michael Kabel

When it comes to spending money on your child's clothes, how much is too much? 

Clothing designers and fashion retailers have branched out into children's apparel, offering child-friendly versions of some of their most exclusive clothing to children as young as two years old. The clothes are often identical to their adult-sized counterparts, made of the same material and styling. There are also complete lines clothing made by designers with a more child-centered color palette and design sense. 

Making designer clothes for children amounts to a new front in the constant war between retail chains for a piece of the upper middle class family's dollar. Marketing the clothes not just to children but also to fashion-conscious parents represents a way to expand profitability while increasing consumer awareness. But what message do the designer clothes send to children?
Experts say today's small child is a second-generation designer target. "The babies being born now are the children of men and women who grew up in the 1980s," says children's clothing expert Sandy Medina. "And that decade was a golden age for designer clothes and their manufacturers. That was the first time people really paid attention to name brands."
"If you were in high school in the 80s, you're in your thirties now. You're having kids and you've probably got some disposable income. Designer clothing retailers are going to come looking for you." 

Some child experts fear buying children designer clothes can lead to a superficial misunderstanding of the value of money and status in the mind of the child. 

"Young children's understandings of the value of things are culled from their parents," warns one child expert. "If you're buying your kids the best, and telling them it's the best, that perspective will bleed into other things the child sees and feels. The child has no way of seeing the inherent value of something besides its prestige or status symbol."

Spoiled children, as most parents are aware, are often incapable of distinguishing their wants from what's immediately available. Designer clothing, some experts say, fuels a sense of entitlement among children and may hurt their concepts of money and value later on. 

Still, others say it's all in fun and part of American culture. "Parents want their kids to look their best," says one Atlanta-area mother of two. "What's the harm in giving them something early that they'll want later in life? Isn't that the job of a parent?"

Ultimately, the choice towards designer clothes must be left to the parent. "Be honest with yourself when you browse the designer clothes racks," Medina says. "Ask yourself, am I buying this because my child deserves the best? Or do I want the baby seen in only the best? Because there is a difference."