The Red Rosa dress, €50 from kirbee.ie
A traditional approach to childrenswear is gaining ground. Karen Kirby, designer of Kirbee children’s collection attributes this growing appeal to several factors, like fashion cycles and nostalgia spurred by a sense that kids grow up faster these days.
Charlotte coat, €60
“You can’t dress your children in this innocent, childish way for a long time,” she says, “and so I thought that during the ages when you can, you should take advantage and dress them beautifully” she explains. One very important person who seems to agree with her is Kate Middleton, the prime mover of the trend. “The Duchess of Cambridge dresses her children in a traditional way,” Kirby observes. “Prince George and Princess Charlotte have been wearing similar clothes as their parents and always look smart and appropriate.
Kirbee was founded in Kirby’s living room in 2015 when she had her first daughter after two sons and was unable to find the sort of baby wear she wanted to dress her daughter in. At the time, many childrenswear lines were focusing on dressing kids like mini adults in edgy, street-inspired trends; Kirby instead applied a vintage touch to her work, which might be described as heritage childrenswear. Featuring Peter Pan collars, hand smocking, and simple lines, pieces from Kirbee look like they might have been inspired by old-fashioned storybooks. “I wanted something a bit special and personalized . . . something sweet and handmade,” says Kirbee, who soon discovered that there was a high demand for these classic designs. She did a very successful pop up in Dundrum during Christmas 2017 which has attracted the interest of a UK prestigious multiple who she is now in talks with.
Sophia dress, €50
Kirby is no stranger to the fashion business. She is a trained designer, graduating from the Grafton Academy and was the lead designer in the plus sized label, Personal Choice (Michael H) for many years. Her fashion education lead to an appreciation of beautiful fabrics and textures and she has applied this to her first collection, launched in AW17.
Her Spring 2018 collection builds on this and offers sustainable and stylish luxury clothes for toddlers and kids. The Liberty print dresses will be stored away for another generation. That’s part of Kirby’s plan. “I want clothes that will last and become heirloom pieces. I love the idea that beautiful clothes will be handed on – it’s the way generations of Irish children were reared” she tells.
Lucia dress, €50
Kirbee is available online at kirbee.ie and prices start at a very reasonable €45.