Be warned: after a visit to London's finest shops for children's clothes, your little ones may be better dressed than you. Explore the shops in our selection to find recognisable kids' brands such as Start-rite and Petit Bateau, plus miniature versions of grown-up looks from the likes of Dr Martens. It's never too early to be fashion-forward, after all.
Alongside the cute crocheted toys and retro-inspired accessories the cool, colourful clothing manages to steer the right side of enchanting; who could fail to say, ‘Ahh,’ at the sight of a chubby babe with ‘Pudding’ written on her tummy? The toddler tees include some fine skull-and-crossbones designs and the best-selling stripy design emblazoned with numbers in various bold colourways. B&B does a roaring trade despite only being open 11am-3pm on Saturdays and 9am-3pm to coincide with the Sunday market.
Now more than a decade old with three shops in London and a few scattered around the world from New York to Tokyo, Caramel is a great place to head to for tasteful togs for children, from babies to 12-year-olds. The look is relaxed, but the clothes are well finished in modern, muted colour schemes. While the styles have clearly been inspired by the sturdy clothes of the past, they never submit to full-blown nostalgia.
Catering for Stoke Newington's fashion-savvy mini folk, Olive Loves Alfie stocks an inspiring mix of covetable kids labels for ages 0-14. Owner Ashlyn Gibson has an instinct for what parents want to buy – and more importantly – what kids actually want to wear. Current hits include Dr Martens, Mini Rodini, Bobo Choses, Kidscase and their own eponymous range for girls which includes kimono-style tops and velvet frocks. Olive Loves Alfie is also one of the few places to stock the highly sorted-after Salt Water leather sandals (which can be worn in the sea) for little girls, with prices starting at £35.
Located in leafy Primrose Hill, Elias and Grace is perhaps London's most stylish designer kids' boutique. Here you'll find an illustrious line-up of mini-me labels including Marni, Little Marc Jacobs and Acne. New for spring are Hartford, which specialises in vintagey shirts for boys and yummy mummy favourite, Imps and Elves. E&G's own label, Miller – which is also stocked at Liberty – offers simple, elegant pieces for babies, boys and girls with items like the ultimate cotton hoody for boys for £60 a pop and Tippi Hedren-style frocks for girls, also from about £60.
Gently Elephant specialises in 'shoes and stuff' with a back wall dedicated to footwear featuring popular brands like Geox, Pediped and Start-rite, as well as gorgeous Bloch ballet pumps and wellies galore. The small but strong range of clothing includes Hatley raincoats, babygros by Organics for Kids and select pieces by Toby Tiger.
The popular London-based brand recently opened its first shop in Notting Hill's chichi Ledbury Road. Here you'll find the whole collection for babies and boys and girls up to the age of 12. Key, instantly recognisable pieces include its belted stripy dresses for girls, skull-print tops for boys and cheeky slogan T-shirts for babies.
Complementing its highly original range of toys, Igloo's clothes and accessories are sourced by two mothers with limitless savoir faire. You’ll find a spacious Start-rite shoe corner and rails of clothes from the likes of Catimini, Petit Bateau, No Added Sugar and Kidscase. There’s a mirrored area for children’s haircuts, a table for reading and drawing, party essentials and a gift-wrapping service too.
Unusual but affordable fashions for babies and children up to eight keep parents flocking back. Bestsellers for girls are the red gingham Calamity Jane-style Prairie Girl Blouse and the loose, dreamy, cloud-covered corduroy shift. Boys can have their cords with suedette rabbits and foxes peeking out around the shin, teamed with little waistcoats to complete the understated, folksy look.
'Been inside for 9 months' reads the logo on Oh Baby's bestselling black-and-white striped babygros for newborns. The witty brand was started as 'an allergic reaction to pastels', on a mission to introduce more jaunty kit for babies and children aged from zero to about six. That said, the new baby gift sets (bib, towel, toy £30) come in conventional pastel pink and blue – but they're very sweet all the same. We love the bow tie long sleeve top in black and white, and the 'I rock' playsuit emblazoned with a picture of a guitar.
Always a pleasure to trot round, this children’s shop of many parts has clothes, toys, accessories, toiletries, shoes, books and a hairdressing station (from £13.50). The clothes – think traditional rather than trend-led – are adorable, with print dresses from Chelsea Clothing Company and Confiture, stripy tops and cotton shorts from Petit Breton and college-style jumpers, trousers and shirts by Thomas Brown. The shoes at the back are Start-rite and the hairdressing station has a large tank of fish to distract the small clients – first-time customers receive a certificate of bravery.
Scala, Milan and the English National Opera in London? Then have a look round Liberation, the flagship store for rubber innovators Libidex. The shop carries a wide range of off-the-peg clothing for women and men that’s ready to wear if you’re ready to dare, or commission something custom-made after trying on items to see what flatters and flaunts. Celebrity customers include Julian Clary and Lady Gaga, and Libidex have also worked with fashion houses including Vivienne Westwood, Dolce & Gabbana and the late Alexander McQueen, although they greet everyone who walks through their doors with open arms and a welcome warmer than the inside of a freshly grilled cheese toastie. Libidex is a particularly good label to check out if you’re after rubber tights, stockings, socks, or leggings; they were the original pioneers of new ways of tailoring latex legwear that have now become industry benchmarks, and the fit around the legs and feet of their garments is still exemplary. Don’t bother checking out hose in every area code – just head to Covent Garden and make your stems stunning at Liberation.
Venue says: “Liberation - the Libidex fetish shop in London’s Covent Garden”