Crate and Kids’ fall collection focuses on high design, self-expression and breaking gender norms
NORTHBROOK, Ill. — Crate and Kids’ new fall collection launched earlier this month with several new design features and concepts, many of which Crate and Kids’ Vice President Alicia Waters said are indicative of the brand’s focuses and energy going forward.
“I’m proud to say that this line is inspired by real kids and stories, and that it’s our most kid-forward and kid-inspired collection yet,” said Waters. “It’s really all about empowering individuality and stimulating exploration, and I would say what we’re really trying to do as a brand overall is marry self-expression with high design.”
To accomplish that, new pieces put an emphasis on several concepts that Waters and Stephanie Lesh, Crate and Kids’ merchandising manager, said are trending in kids’ spaces: the progression toward gender neutrality with non-stereotyped colors and themes, the focus on universally good design that can transition with families and the use of colors, themes and materials that connect families with nature.
Introductions such as Crate and Kids’ coordinating cane nursery collection — which includes a crib, rocker, nightstand and dresser — are perfect examples of those new focuses in action for the brand. According to Lesh, nurseries still tend to reflect more of the parents’ style, so incorporating a well-designed, mixed-material collection — with its black wood frame, cane accents and gold hardware — into the fall debut makes sense. The use of cane calls back to that theme of nature that parents are seeking, and the sets’ less “matchy-matchy” look meet the style requirements that parents are seeking in the rest of their homes.
“Parents want to maintain their sense of style,” explained Lesh. “So even though they’ve welcomed a new member into it, it’s still very important to them that these rooms kind-of fit within the overall decor of their homes.”
Similarly, Crate and Kids’ new West storage crib is all about meeting the demand for kid and parent-friendly design. The company’s first side storage crib design, the West crib, merges a crib with both a bookshelf and a set of drawers, combining three pieces of furniture into one.
While the brand has introduced cribs with integrated storage below the mattress before, Waters called the West crib a game changer, both for its added shelf functionality and its ease of access. Now, parents holding babies will not have to bend down to access extra storage.
“Parents have told us over and over again that they want any piece that can help them reduce clutter and have a more streamlined amount of stuff,” noted Waters. “And that’s both for practical purposes and style purposes.”
What parents want
Waters and Lesh both said that much of Crate and Kids’ direction for the fall 2020 collection came directly from parents through consumer focus groups hosted in Chicago and New York, social media outreach and a panel that the brand works with internally.
The feedback groups, and Crate and Kids’ overall customer profile, run the gamut as far as ages, backgrounds and parenting situations go, but Waters said each person’s desire to help their kids express themselves and to teach their children that they have the right to be active and have a voice at a very early age united nearly every person involved.
“They want to provide opportunities in the home for their children to discover good design and who they are or what they love,” said Waters, adding, “They are really interested in making kids part of the design process.”
To that end, color, bedding and art has become an important way for children to express themselves and get involved in designing their rooms as they age up. Fall introductions such as Crate and Kids’ Marrakech Tiger quilt and Roxy Marj Puppy quilt and coordinating sheets, both utilizing bright colors and natural themes with animal and foliage prints, have already made a big splash for the brand.
“What we sensed when we looked around at the marketplace is that everyone was sort of looking the same,” said Waters. “When we talked to parents, what they said is that they want more bold and style-forward options, which was great because that was exactly what we wanted to do.”
That increased interest in design and style is reflected in the positive early feedback on color-heavy pieces like the new Jewel dresser, which is available in both a dark green and a so-far more popular blush colorway with gold hardware.
“It’s just straight-up eye candy,” said Waters. “It’s a beautiful, colorful statement piece for a nursey or a bedroom, and it can transition easily to meet a child or family’s needs, which is something I think parents are looking for from a value standpoint, and to up the ante on style in a kid’s room.”
Gender neutral trends
For Crate and Kids this season, color has also been an area where the company chose to tackle gender normative design stereotypes head on with pieces like it Organic Egret crib sheets.
“Gender neutral nurseries are really growing in popularity,” said Lesh. “Traditionally people will use green, or they’ll use yellow or very neutral colors in that space and kind of steer away from more gendered colors like a pink and blue.”
She added, “What our design team did with this sheeting is use this sandstone background of super light, dusty pink that can kind-of transition either direction.”
Elsewhere in the collection, pink, with a little more of a gray undertone to it, pops up throughout more boy-oriented spaces, reflective of a demand for new gender neutral options that has been growing, according to the company, over the past couple of years.
“The transition is really interesting,” commented Waters. “I started my career at Baby Gap 15 or 20 years ago, and green was our No. 1 seller for the neutral baby then, so I think the trend has been around for a long time, but it’s getting addressed more straightforwardly now.
“Parents don’t want their kids on a track. … They want their kid to be able to experiment and have fun in all parts of life. So we’re aiming to make pieces that allow them to do just that with design.”
The full fall 2020 collection, made up of more than 389 new SKUs, is available online now. Prices range from $39 to $375.