This interesting article on current trends of children's fashion appeared in a South African newspaper in 2001. This is a translation from the from from Afrikaans bu HBC reader Andre Amtrade.
The good old days of reliable khaki shorts and kneesocks for your primary school
boy are now over.
Nowadays it can cost you more than a Thousand Rand (about $110.00) to get your boy
a singular T-shirt and a pair of sneakers with an equitable brand name. Parents have always complained that their daughters are expensive but now it is for the boys that their pockets are drained. It all adds up so that their boys are in trend and are part of their peer group culture. And it is just not the teens that have become ardent followers of fashion, it is now the ten year old age group that have become fashion conscious and it is 'cool' to wear the right clothes.
Where a boy was once quite content to walk around barefoot, he would not now been seen dead - even on the hottest day - without his very expensive Reeboks on.
In a survey under a group of grade 6 boys at a rural school by Pelindaba near Pretoria,
it was evident that they were fashion conscious and were walking encyclopaedias of brand names. To be 'cool', you wore expensive shoes like Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Diesel and Island Style.
Designer shirts with brand names such as Quicksilver, Instinct, Bad Boy, Lizzard, Gotcha and the favourite, Billabong is essential for the right image the boys say. Hair has got to have the 'wet' look and be gelled. Hairstyles change every few months. Last year it had to stand right up; now it must be horizontal and slightly mussed up. Needless to say, the gel must be of the best quality. Long hair and side paths [burns] is totally out.
At a big shopping mall in Pretoria there are three boutiques which specialize in childrens clothes and boys are their best clients the owners say.
"The girls want to look like their mothers and don't care about labels. But with the boys brand names are more important than quality", an owner says. " The boys are not even teens yet but invest R600.00 (about $63.00) for a Billabong T-shirt".
The preference for certain labels does not stop with the clothing, cell phones must complete the total package. According to Linlee Solms, owner of a cell phone shop at Hartbeesfonteindam, small models with changeable covers are very popular amongst primary school children. "Parents buy their children cell phones for safety reasons but the children want them because it's all part of the image".
Dirk van Schalkwyk, a fashion designer from Pretoria says the reason for boys to become fashion conscious is peer pressure. "They influence each other and nobody wants to be left out. Usually there will be one or two boys with wealthy parents that can afford the costly fashion. Pressure is then placed on the other parents to comply."
"Popular TV children programmes such as KTV add to this. The presenters, children themselves, wear the latest and costliest fashion. Their hair is professionally styled so that they can look their best in front of the camera."
Nic Verneem, a hairstylist from Pretoria North says boys from grade 4 are conscious of their hair. It has to be short and gelled. Small children are more fashion conscious than ever before. By the time they go to senior high school, its well established.
Dawne Murray, an international image consultant says men feel all the more threatened
with the liberation and empowerment of women. The modern lifestyle has changed the
traditional roles that men and women had.
"I think it's a good sign.Maybe it will bring the two sexes closer together and so
understand each others needs. Soon we will no longer say that men are from Mars
and women from Venus" says Murray.
Dr. Wilhelm van Deventer, a specialist consultant and pastoral family therapist gives the following reasons and advice about fashion conscious boys:
She advises parents to instil a more defined model of values than publicized views
of current fashion such as colour dyed hair, the wearing of earrings and the use
of cologne for boys.
Source: Beeld newspaper, May 8, 2001.
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