These hipsters wear onesies, and black is the new baby blue
by Margie Fishman, The News Journal
October 24, 2012
The graphic tee, a mandatory accessory for hipster irony, is perhaps the cheapest form of self-expression.
And express it does, with messages like "I like boobs," "Cuter than baby Jesus" and "What happens at grandma's, stays at grandma's."
But these hipsters aren't unemployed twentysomething philosophy majors who favor beards and unicycles.
These hipsters wear onesies.
"A lot of the stuff for babies is tacky," says David Sanchez, owner of Spaceboy Clothing in downtown Wilmington and a father of two young boys. "This is cuter than OshKosh B'gosh."
Sanchez is referring to a red baby T-shirt littered with skulls that his 3-year-old son, Jet, pairs with skinny baby jeans and a striped knit cap (the cap is intermittently thrown on the floor). The shirt, personally designed by Sanchez, sells for $15 at Spaceboy, where baby garb is stacked inside a drum.
Jet also sports tattoos like his father, though Jet's are the press-on variety.
"He looks like a mini version of him," notes Jet's mom, Ramona Robinson.
FYI: Teddy bears are out. Black is the new baby blue.
Hipster moms and dads, who possibly went through a goth phase in college or attended rock shows religiously after graduation, are all grown up and ready to impart their fashion sense on kids too young to argue.
Call it punk, call it retro, offbeat clothing and accessories for babies and toddlers have exploded in popularity over the last five years, according to several online retailers who specialize in rockabilly and death metal garb for youngsters. Several sites have been launched by stay-at-home moms on the West Coast and in urban centers. These entrepreneurs were tired of all the dull, cliché baby merchandise available to them. Customers gobble up the goods, particularly in Australia and Western Europe, where moms' groups pool orders.
"It's a way to make a statement," says Laura Brown, owner of Aberdeen, N.J.-based Kiditude.com. "I don't know if the parents are reliving their youth or saying my kids' clothes are better than yours."
Brown does a brisk business in infant band merchandise, like a Def Leppard or Pink Floyd T-shirt paired with a CD of lullabies inspired by the band. She also carries a "So Not a Princess" plaid skull onesie for $17.95 and zebra crib boots for $27.95. Gene Simmons' enormous tongue sticks out on a pair of baby socks.
Generations X and Y are all about rejecting authority, which includes what their parents made them wear, says Brown. Her products are a hit for baby shower gifts.
"They want to give the gift that makes an impression," she says. "They want people to go ‘ooh.' We treat our dogs like accessories, why not our kids?"
On Etsy, a popular online retailer for homemade goods, searching under "punk baby" yields more than 7,000 items, including a cherry blossom hair bow with a dead Hello Kitty in the center.
Even mainstream outlets like Target, Old Navy and The Children's Place recognize that it's no fun to look like everyone else in the playground, hawking hot pink shaggy vests, leopard fedoras and glitter guitar T-shirts.
On a recent weeknight at Babies "R" Us in Newark, there were two racks of Amy Coe rocker merchandise, including a onesie depicting a skull in an Indian headdress on clearance for $8. A safe distance away, Heidi Klum's Truly Scrumptious line featured pink velour tracksuits.
"The average person doesn't think skulls represent death right now," explained Ashley Salas, who owns Sugar Babies boutique near Seattle and operates an online store, shopsugarbabies.com.
The rocker baby category constitutes 60 percent of Salas' total sales (she sees an uptick right before Halloween).
Her target market is not just the rocker mom. Soccer moms are taking baby steps into anti-establishment slogans and bondage blankets (red plaid flannel with black vinyl corners) available at some retailers.
Salas calls it "tasteful punk" or "watered-down punk," though she admits that grandmothers will bypass the entire section of the store.
Rosalee Lester started Babywit.com in 2003 because she had a sense of humor and refused to dress her kids in "uninteresting creatures."
Now living in Portland, Ore., Lester caters to a Hollywood clientele. When Beastie Boys' member Adam Yauch died earlier this year, sales spiked on baby T-shirts featuring the rap group.
Lester even carries dresses, T-shirts and onesies proclaiming "My dad is a hipster douchebag."
"I don't think you'll see that in Target," she says.
Onesies are typically sized by weight and height. The difficulty lies in the differences from brand to brand. Just like women's jeans, where a size 4 from The Gap might not fit the same as a size 4 from Banana Republic, baby onesie manufacturers' sizes also differ.
However, there are staple brands like Gerber and Carter's that act as good gauges for onesie sizing. Thankfully, the sizes for both brands are similar.
Gerber Onesie sizing:
Newborn 5-8 lbs/17-21 in.
0-3 Months 8-12 lbs, 21-24 in.
3-6 Months 12-16 lbs, 24-26 in.
6-9 Months 16-20 lbs, 26-28 in.
12 Months 20-24 lbs, 28-30 in.
18 Months 24-28 lbs, 30-32 in.
24 Months/2T 28-32 lbs, 32-24 in.
Carter's bodysuit sizing:
Newborn 5-8 lbs, up to 21 in.
3 Months 8-12.5 lbs, 21.5-24 in.
6 Months 12.5-16.5 lbs, 24-26.5 in.
9 Months 16.5-20.5 lbs, 26.5-28.5 in.
12 Months 20.5-24.5 lbs, 28.5-30.5 in.
18 Months 24.5-27.5 lbs, 30.5-32.5 in.
24 Months 27.5-30 lbs, 32.5-34 in.
2T 29-31 lbs, 34.5-36.5 in.
From the above, you can estimate the following when buying Kiditude cool baby clothes:
0-6 Month onesie, 8-16 lbs, 21-26 in.
6-12 Month onesie 16-24 lbs, 26-30 in.
12-18 Month onesie 20-28 lbs, 28-32 in.
When purchasing a baby onesie, take into account the shrinking factor! If your choice of onesie is 100% breathable, baby soft cotton, it may shrink up to 1 full size after the first wash and dry cycle. Considering you wash your baby's clothes prior to wear to remove dust, lint and chemicals, you'll want to remember to buy larger, especially if the item is not pre-shrunk. If your choice of onesie is a cotton blend, there will be less shrinkage.
One Step Ahead also makes onesie extenders. These are difficult to find in the store. We found them online. They work with multiple brands of onesies based of the size of the snaps and side on which the snaps are located. These are great for when your baby is outgrowing one size but is still too small for the next. The extender is a strip of cotton fabric with snaps at both ends that attach to the snaps on the onesie to provide a few extra inches of length. Since it snaps between the legs, it's not noticeable once covered by shorts, dress or pants.
I think back on 2011 with the same bittersweet feelings I have every new year. There were good times and bad times. There were sad times when family became ill or passed and happy times when babies were born. Overall, we survived, we grew and learned and emerged to enter the next phase of our lives, whatever that may be.
I love Christmas season. I almost can't wait for Thanksgiving to be over so I can run out to the garage the next morning and find all my Christmas decorations. I like to buy my tree right after Thanksgiving because by the time New Year's comes I'm ready to tear the thing down and get my house back in order.
I separate all the gifts that remain under the tree into piles based on who or where they belong. This year, that moment was very special. I was home alone performing this annual task when I opened a box to see what it was. And, ah yes, I received the most special gift from my 8 year old son and there it was again.
Kiditude is a family business and we work on it 24 hours a day. My kids see what goes on around them. They see me cooking dinner after a day at the office, still checking email, running to the home office to answer consumer questions, running back to the oven to check the chicken. It basically never ends but we enjoy it.
This year, my 8 year old, in secret drew a picture of a cool baby bib he designed for Kiditude. He took the drawing to my mother and asked her to sew it. I knew nothing about this secret mission. My mother took my son to the fabric store so he could choose the fabrics he wanted for his design and sewed the bib according to the color coded diagram he drew. Each piece of the bib meant something and my son explained to my mother why the fabric choices were so important.
On Christmas day my husband and I were presented with this beautiful hand-made, custom designed cool baby bib. I was blown away. My husband was floored. We know the kids see us work hard but for our son to embrace vision and celebrate this labor of love with us was the best gift. Not to mention that his bib design rocked!
I think we found someone to take over the family business when we are ready to retire. All of the mommy guilt I piled on in the month of December for not being able to read a book or eat family dinner because I had to work was quickly wiped away with this one special gift. My young son got it. He understood how much joy this business brings me and he finds joy in it himself.