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The European market potential for children’s wear

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Children’s wear is a very interesting product segment for exporters from developing countries. Even though the yearly increase in the number of children in Europe is very slow, with an average annual growth rate of 0.14% between 2014 and 2019, the market for children’s wear is expected to grow at a much higher rate of approximately 5% per year. Children make up 15.6% of the total European population, totalling at 79.8 million persons in 2019.

Calculated based on the top-6 countries, the annual average spending on clothing by child is approximately €600. Furthermore, the average annual spending is higher in Western Europe than it is in Eastern Europe. In 2019, the total worth of the European children’s wear market was estimated at approximately €50.7 billion.

1. Product description

Eurostat defines children as all persons who have not yet reached their 15th birthday, and the group is further divided into categories including babies, toddlers, young children, and teenagers. Likewise, the children’s wear product category includes girls’ and boys’ outer garments (pullovers, t-shirts, trousers, dresses, skirts) and under garments (undershirts and underpants), but excludes all adult apparel. Nevertheless, it should be noted that most older teenagers tend to use adult products.

To differentiate both product groups in daily life, children’s clothing sizes (44 to 170) and adult clothing sizes (XXS to XXL and more) differ in designation. Customers of children’s wear products are mostly parents, whereas new studies show that 25% of all children’s wear had been gifted to the children by grandparents or other relatives and friends.

European parents prefer to buy clothes made of organic cotton, especially for babies, toddlers, and small children. Fleece, microfiber fabrics, jersey, lawn cotton, muslin and other soft materials also enjoy popularity. In buying clothes for their children, parents greatly value the durability of clothes meant for daily use, due to their children’s active lifestyles. Once children get older they are more likely to choose apparel products which resemble adult’s apparel products in design and material. Products like tights, dungarees/overalls and rompers are predominately used by (smaller) children.

Children’s wear is often very colourful and shows elaborate designs such as flowers, dots and ethnic designs. Also, merchandise designs of popular TV shows (like Paw Patrol, Frozen, Walt Disney, Peppa Pig and others) or music bands are very popular with European children. Typically, little girls are often dressed in shades of pink and other pastels with animal, princesses, mermaid, and fairy designs or patterns, while boys are dressed in blueish shades with animal, pirate, police, firemen, airplanes, astronaut and tractor designs and patterns. These designs are also often printed on children undergarments.

There are no HS Codes available for children’s wear on Eurostat and consequently no statistics pertaining to import and export, since this category is not tracked at the moment.

Figure 1: Children’s wear examples

Children’s wear examples
Children’s wear examples
Childrens wear
 Children’s wear examples

Photo Source: Unsplash

2. What makes Europe an interesting market for Children’s Wear?

There are no Eurostat statistics on production, imports or exports of children’s wear in Europe, but the market can be estimated based on the share of children within the population and the average annual spending of clothing per child per country. The latter can only be estimated based on consumer statements and estimates. For the top-6 countries, the estimated average spending is nearly €600 per child and per year. Combined with the known number of children stating 79.8 million in 2019, the value of children’s wear in Europe is estimated to be approximately €50.7 billion in the same year.

Due to the lack of available data, an estimate on the future development of the children’s wear market can only be established through analysis of the (children’s) apparel market. Experts consider the very slow annual average growth rate of the number of children in the EU (0.14% from 2014 to 2019) as a threat to the growth of the market, but the annual spending on clothing for children is expected to grow further, together with the overall purchasing power of the European population.

Additionally, consumers are increasingly aware of children’s wear brands and involved in the purchase of high-end children’s wear. In total, industry experts foresee the market growing at a single-digit growth rate in the next 2-3 years. Statista analysts estimate an annual average market growth of 4.97% for the apparel market between 2021 and 2025, while the volume of children’s wear is expected to amount to 12.172 billion pieces by 2025.

Overall, children’s wear is a high-value market in Europe and shows many opportunities for easy market entry. Especially the market entry into fast fashion products appears very simple, while entering exclusive product lines can be significantly more difficult. To achieve the latter, manufacturers must prove their products are of high quality. However, organic children’s wear in particular can be a promising segment due to the parents’ concerns about their children’s health.

Key retailers operating in the children’s wear market in Europe include fashion chains, which are active throughout Europe and sell clothes for adults as well as children. Examples include H&M, C&A, Next, Bonprix, and more. Other players include department stores like Galleria Kaufhof (Germany), Karstadt (Germany), El Corté Inglès (Spain), Le Bon Marché (France). Furthermore larger supermarkets/hypermarkets like Carrefour, Coop and Mercadona also sell clothes for all age groups and are popular sources for affordable children’s wear. However, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, e-commerce started blooming and further expanded the influence of all digital shopping channels.

3. Which European countries offer most opportunities for Children’s Wear?

Table 1: Number of children living and newly born babies in the European Union in 2019


Number of children between 0-14 years old

Calculated annual growth rate 2014-2019

Share in Europe

Number of births per year

Calculated annual growth rate  2014 - 2019







United Kingdom




























































Source: Eurostat






The biggest European markets for children’s wear include France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland, due to the size of the markets and their future potential. The value of the children’s wear market can be estimated by the number of children in the market and the average spending on clothes for a child per year. In the top 6 countries, the average spending per child per year sits between €1,075 in France and €300 in Poland. This amounts to an average annual spending of €596 per child, and this value has been used for the present market estimation. Based on this average and the number of children living in the EU (79.8 million), the total European market for children’s wear can be estimated to have reached a value of €50.7 billion in 2019.


France has the largest number of children in the EU with 12.1 million children (meaning it has 15.18% of all European children), including 754,008 babies born in 2019. Nevertheless, both the average annual birth rate (-1.48%) and the total number of children (-0.35%) are decreasing, meaning the French children’s wear market is also slightly shrinking in volume. However, the purchasing power of the French has increased by 2.5% from 2018 to 2019, which positively impacts the spending for children’s wear. French parents spend an average of €1,075 on each child per year for clothing, which is more than any other of the top-6 countries.

Table 2: Estimation of the French children's wear market in 2019


Number of children

CAGR 2014-2019

Average spending per child per year

Value of the children’s wear market in 2019





€13.022 billion

Smaller boutiques focusing on the sales of children’s wear are quite popular in France and famous chains can be found all over Europe. The best known French brands offering children’s wear include Jacadi, Okaidi, Petit Bateau, 3 Pommes, Sergent Major, Little Cigogne, Joli Brin and many more.

French trade fairs that focus on children’s wear are not as present as in other European countries, but frequent events include the Baby Cool in Paris and Le Salon Baby in Lyon and Paris.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is the market with the second-largest number of children in the European Union. Approximately 11.9 million children call the United Kingdom their home country, with 640,370 babies born in 2019. In contrast to France, the growth rate of the children’s wear category is slightly positive at 1.01%, despite the annual birth rate decreasing by -1.72% per year since 2014. The average annual spending on children’s clothing in the UK is estimated at €900 per child per year, which is higher than in many other European countries, resulting in the strong children’s wear market value of €10.746 billion, with a growth tendency.

Table 3: Estimation of the British children's wear market in 2019


Number of children

CAGR 2014-2019

Average spending per child per year

Value of the children’s wear market in 2019





€10.746 billion

Just like in France, there are several brands which focus exclusively on children’s fashion. Popular brands in the United Kingdom include Tootsa, Beeboobuzz, Trotters, Lala + Bea, Minoti, and more. Nevertheless, these are little boutiques which can be only found within the UK and through e-commerce. Generally, parents buy most of the children’s wear in department stores and fashion stores which sell clothing for all age groups, including Next, Selfridges, and Mark’s and Spencer’s.

UK trade shows that focus on children’s wear include the INDX Kidswear, Childcare Expo, Bubble At Pure, First Steps Baby Expo, Kids & Baby Expo and others.

The United Kingdom has left the European Union in 2020. New trade agreements between the European Union and the United Kingdom as well as other partner countries are still pending and not finalised. It is uncertain whether the United Kingdom will continue to provide preferential trade conditions for developing countries and how the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union will impact the apparel sector and trade.


Germany has the third-largest number of children in the European Union with approximately 11.3 million children, including 778,090 babies born in 2019 – more than in any other European country. In contrast to France and the United Kingdom, both the absolute number of children (1.19%) and the birth rates (2.67%) have increased between 2014 and 2019. Likewise, the market is expected to grow further in the future. The average annual spending on children’s wear is estimated at €637 per child. This amount results in a strong children’s wear market value of approximately €7.192 billion in 2019, with a growth tendency for the future.

Table 4: Estimation of the German children's wear market in 2019


Number of children

CAGR 2014-2019

Average spending per child per year

Value of the children’s wear market in 2019





€7.192 billion

German brands that focus solely on children’s wear are quite rare in Germany and focus mostly on the distribution via e-commerce. Known German children’s wear brands include Jako-o, Tausendkind, Boboli, Sterntaler, and others. 

Trade shows on children and babies are very common in Germany. Popular shows include the Kids & Co, Kindermoden Nord, Kind + Jugend, BabyWelt, Lokolino, Hally Baby!, Supreme Kids, Piccolino, Kids & More, Nesthäckchen, Infalino and many more, among which many smaller and local fair trades.


Italy has the fourth-largest number of children in the European Union with approximately 8 million, including 420,084 babies born in 2019. The average annual birth rate has decreased dramatically at -3.97%, while the average annual growth rate for the age group decreased at a slower rate of -1.18% from 2014 to 2019. Italy is expected to remain a strong market for children’s wear in Europe due to its size, whereas its growth is estimated to remain slower than in other European countries.

Table 5: Estimation of the Italian children's wear market in 2019


Number of children

CAGR 2014-2019

Average spending per child per year

Value of the children’s wear market in 2019





€3.000 billion

The average annual spending on children’s wear in Italy is estimated at €377 per child, resulting in a market value of approximately €3 billion in 2019. The Confindustria Moda association has experienced an increase of turnover in the segment by 3.5% from 2018 to 2019, whereas exports grew by 6.1%.

Italian brands focused on children’s wear include Susie and Toto, Prenatal, Fantaztico, La Stupenderia, Ilgufo, and Monnalisa. Also, several designer brands like Diesel and Armani Junior have launched special collections for children.

A famous Italian trade show is the Pitti Immagine Bimbo in Florence.


Spain has the fifth-largest number of children in Europe. Approximately 6.9 million children call Spain their home country, including 358,747 babies born in 2019. The average annual birth rate (-3.31%), as well as the average annual growth of the age group (-0.39%) have decreased from 2014 to 2019. However, the market is expected to grow slowly, and remains an interesting market due to its size. The average annual spending on children’s wear reaches approximately €524 per child and per year, resulting in a total market value of €3.633 billion in 2019.

Table 6: Estimation of the Spanish children's wear market in 2019


Number of children

CAGR 2014-2019

Average spending per child per year

Value of the children’s wear market in 2019





€3.633 billion

Spanish brands for children’s wear are popular in Spain and include La Petite Blossom, Mayoral, Tiny Cottons, Pomeranian Kids, Cóndor, M&H Babywear, Martin Aranda, Mi Lucero and many more.

Trade shows in Spain include the Children’s Festival in Barcelona, DiverFam, Cero a Cuatro, and the FIMI Fashion Show in Valencia.


Poland is the European market with the sixth-largest number of children in the EU. Approximately 5.8 million children call Poland their home country, while 374,964 new babies have joined the age group in 2019. The average annual birth rate (0.29%) as well as the average annual growth of the age group (0.40%) have increased between 2014 and 2019. The average annual spending on children’s wear is the lowest of the top 6 countries. Polish parents spend on average €300 on the clothing of each of their children per year, resulting in a market value of estimated €1.750 billion in 2019.

Table 7: Estimation of the Polish children's wear market in 2019


Number of children

CAGR 2014-2019

Average spending per child per year

Value of the children’s wear market in 2019





€1.750 billion

In 2017, 40% of children’s wear was purchased at large fashion chains, expecting to reach a market share of 45% in 2022. Also, online sales (from 10% to 12%) and one-stop children’s shops (15% to 17%) are expected to increase their influence in the Polish market. The top 5 companies leading the Polish children’s wear market are SMYK, Allegro, H&M, CCC, and Pepco.

Polish brands for children’s wear include Mille Baby, Kukukid, Mrugala, Pinokio, and Endo.

Trade shows in Poland include the Kids Time and the Warsaw Kids & Toys Expo.


  • Focus your export efforts on the top six countries (France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy Spain Poland) to profit from the size of these children’s wear markets and the interrelated potential of the markets. Alternatively, choose other target countries, in Eastern Europe or Southern Europe for example, which do not have the same large markets but promise a very equal potential for the future.
  • Get in touch with the leading brands and industry players, e.g. through visits of local or European trade shows, to understand what is expected from children’s wear products and to find the right contact persons for a possible collaboration.
  • For the beginning, a collaboration with larger brands serving not only children can be the easiest opportunity for market entry, unless you can offer brands exclusive products or materials which might appear specifically interesting in terms of value, but less in volume.

The European children’s wear market follows the general apparel trends related to sustainability, technological innovation and increased emphasis on corporate and social responsibility. For more information, see the CBI study on Trends in the Apparel market. Aside from these general trends, the children’s wear market has its own, segment-specific trends.

Organic and sustainable clothing

The younger the child, the more parents will prefer to buy clothing made of organic materials (cotton) to maintain their child’s health and not harm it with potentially toxic material components. Most organic products use light fabrics and carry simple but bright colours and designs. There is a choice of more affordable organic products sold by fast fashion manufacturers like H&M and C&A but many smaller brands have entered the market which sell organic children’s wear at more exclusive rates, e.g. Orbasics (Germany), Frugi, Little Green Radicals, Pigeon, Mama Owl (all four United Kingdom), Gray Label (Netherlands), and Coq en Pate (France). Exclusive brands also offer products with high-end materials such as organic merino wool and bamboo frays, as well as recycled materials.

Second-hand use and rental wear

Since children are growing fast and buying new clothing could likewise become quite expensive, parents have long started sharing and exchanging children’s clothing between each other. Today, this exchange is facilitated through the implementation of second-hand and exchange platforms on the internet. Popular solutions include Vinted, which is originally from Lithuania and very successful in Germany, and eBay. In 2020, Selfridges has started selling second-hand branded children’s wear in London. Experts say that if the success of second-hand products proceeds as estimated, the market will even surpass the fast fashion market for children within the next 10 years. 

Additionally, platforms like Petit Nomade (France), Räubersachen (Germany) and Circos (Netherlands) specialised in rental services for high-end children’s wear. However, experts do not see a very high potential for such services, due to the need to agree on subscriptions based on high rental rates and the need for the maintenance of the clothing to get returns accepted.

Growing clothing

Innovative designers have recently started to drive the market for children’s wear that grows along with the children. This can be achieved through special production methods of specific materials, buttons, and zippers. One approach on the topic has been developed by the inventor of the brand Petit Pli. Located in the UK, Petit Pli produces specifically folded clothing that expands its size automatically. At the same time, the products are all waterproof, reflective, ultra-durable, non-restrictive, lightweight and insulating.

Outdoor clothing

Pushing children into spending more time outside the house, parents are ready to invest higher amounts of money into the purchase of high-end outdoor clothing. Therefore, the parents expect the products to be water-resistant, breathable, easy to clean and robust to dirt and abrasion. Especially parents in Northern and Western Europe currently invest into this kind of clothes for the colder seasons. Popular brands in Europe include Jack Wolfskin (Germany), Vaude (Germany) and Fjällräven (Sweden).

“Mini Me”

A currently developing trend is the up-dressing of children according to the parents’ own style preferences. In many cases, this would make children and parents wear identical or at least matching clothes. To achieve this, these clothes must be available in adult’s as well as children’s sizes at the same time.

Figure 2: Mini Me examples

Mini Me examples
Mini Me examples
Mini Me examples

Photo Source: Unsplash, Dolce & Gabbana, JustDial

Designer wear

Designer adult clothing brands like Gucci, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Givenchy, Hugo Boss and others have introduced children’s wear to their portfolio. This involvement makes parents invest more into their children’s clothing and drives the value of the market in total. Also, several high-end babywear and children’s wear brands have been launched in the last years, e.g. Molo (Denmark), Vingino (Germany), Steiff (Germany), Mini Rodini (Sweden) and many more.

Gender differentiation and neutrality

Traditionally, parents have dressed girls and boys very differently from each other, putting girls into pink-coloured clothes and dresses and boys into blue-coloured clothes. This tendency is still ongoing and has recently even experienced a revival. At the same time, many parents aim to raise their children in terms of gender neutrality. Many of the clothes bought by these parents are more neutral in colouring and in design, matching girls and boys alike. Popular colours include beige, green, red, orange, as well as different blue and purple shades. Attachments such as ribbons or bordures are usually not featured.


Large clothing platforms have long included children’s wear into their portfolio and profit from it, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related temporary closure of retail shops. Fashion giant Zalando in Germany has likewise increased its revenue from 2019 to 2020 by 23.1%, and its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by 121.5%. This trend of online shopping is expected to keep up even after lockdown regulations in Europe are abolished.

Apart from these large e-commerce businesses, smaller independent brands profit from this development as well. It is much easier and cost-saving in Europe to set up an online store than it is to open a local shop. Likewise, there have been many innovative children’s wear brands launched in the last years and this trend is expected to be ongoing for the next couple of years.


  • Define high-end or fast fashion children’s wear as your primary target group and align your market entry strategy according to the needs and preferences of the chosen target group. Also, decide on the regions you would like to target. As presented earlier, the spending on children’s clothes differs largely throughout Europe.
  • Observe the development of the market fashion by following the most important brands and shops all over Europe. Children’s fashion shows have been long established in many capital cities of Europe.
  • Consider getting involved in outdoor clothing or new, aspiring clothing technologies to make yourself known as a pioneering supplier for innovative brands. If possible, try to get into touch with innovative brands and discuss the development of new products.
  • If you are interested in getting involved in the market of sustainable children’s wear, make sure you can prove the eco-friendliness of your supply chain and promote your access to organic raw materials.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by M-Brain GmbH.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

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The pandemic has had a very negative impact on the children’s wear market because of the widespread lockdowns and restrictions on children’s activities throughout 2020 and 2021. This was reflected in children’s wear sales. At the same time, we have seen growing sales of comfortable, sporty, and natural fibre/sustainable clothes for children, which are some trends that are expected to remain post-pandemic and maybe contribute to raising a new type of consumer, one that is focused on sustainability.

Children’s wear designer in Europe