Local children's boutiques are cranking up the cute, selling increasingly adorable styles you can't find in department stores.
Whether it's polka dot bloomers, 1920s-inspired little girls' dresses or boys' sweaters with elbow patches, designer kids clothing has a following. Many brands have customers who seek out the new styles each year and resell them when their kids outgrow them through brand-specific Facebook groups.
Some of the clothing is everyday wear. But often it's special occasion outfits bought for birthdays or baby showers, for family pictures or the holidays.
The Fresno-area boutiques are gearing up for the holiday season, including the newly opened Little Rascals & Rockstars in Sierra Vista Mall.
It's the bloomers that are selling big here. These little ruffle butts with bows are designed to be worn over diapers and come in pink polka dots, leopard print and other patterns. They sell for $11.99.
Across town, the Bobbi Dazzler Baby & Kids store is getting ready to celebrate its first year in business at 1766 W. Bullard Ave. near West Avenue. You won't find any bling or zebra stripes or kid versions of adult clothing here. Instead, the store's owners — engaged couple Iliana Negrete and Javid Kazmi — say they celebrate the innocence of childhood.
One of their most popular brands is Persnickety, which features vintage-inspired clothing. There are patchwork dresses, skirts with layers of ruffles in navy and mustard colors, and little red military jackets.
The owners also sell the brand online at bobbidazzler.com and were surprised when they began shipping orders to Japan and Australia.
There's also a "Persnickety Addicts" page on Facebook where fans sell the clothing their children have outgrown.
"A lot of mothers aren't dressing themselves up, they're dressing up their children," Kazmi says. "They're enjoying fashion through their children."
Because the line can get expensive — the military jacket costs more than $100 — Bobbi Dazzler owners have a $15 rack that is updated daily to provide options on the other end of the price spectrum. The store also matches sales at other retailers, including the online deal site Zulily.
It's easy to dress up girls, but boys get in on the fun at Bobbi Dazzler, too. The store carries several boys' lines, including Cavelle Kids, by a designer who recently moved to Clovis.
The clothes feature lots of plaid and elbow patches, such as the navy button-down sweater with red plaid elbow patches for $56. And plaid shirts paired with beige cardigans can have boys looking like mini English professors. The clothing is American made.
Ga Ga CHIC in Fig Garden Village has been selling designer kids clothing for more than three years. One brand particularly popular in Fresno is Blu Pony Vintage.
The designer, who often visits Fresno, scours Paris flea markets for kids clothing from the 1920s and 1930s. She then re-creates the clothing with modern material, says Ga Ga CHIC owner Abbie Mast.
The store is the only one in Fresno that carries the brand.
"(People) will drive for three hours to get a Blu Pony dress from us," Mast says.
Dresses like the Clara B are sleeveless and have ruffled skirts. When her daughters outgrow other dresses they love, Mast will often put the Clara B dress on under the one that's too short to wear alone, its ruffles peeking out from under the other dress.
The store's best sellers are from the Tea collection, a brand that sends its designers around the world for inspiration. Each line reflects the culture and patterns of a different country.
Right now, Ga Ga CHIC is selling the China collection, which is not made in China. The clothing feature bold colors, flowers and kimono-style dresses. The dresses start at $29.
The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6431, email@example.com or @BethanyClough on Twitter. Read her blog on fresnobeehive.com.