Some of us had children because we love them. And some of us had children because we love to shop for them. It actually starts with pregnancy, when we buy out of the love of little. Then, after the baby arrives, we buy because the thought of trying anything on in our old size is about as painful as close contractions. And so we buy the teensy-weensy and keep going until the day comes that our offspring develop voices and opinions and we realize that parental victory in the game of dress-up is unlikely.
As the mother of a toddler, I know the end is near, so I jumped at the chance to check out a new children’s store in New Delhi’s tony, trendy Hauz Khas Village. I took my daughter along to gauge her reaction to what promised to be “a blend of the smart Parisian style with the ethnic Indian look”.
The good stuff
It’s hard for a high-end children’s boutique to be truly kid-friendly. This place scores major points. There’s a painted chalkboard (the paint costs Rs2,100 per tin) in the back that can be scrawled all over.
There are toy beds and high chairs and strollers for kids to push, while their parents check out the real things. The staff seems to love children and don’t give you that snobby look when Little Miss knocks a Rs850 sequinned blouse off the rack. And, yet, you feel like you are shopping in luxury, not at a crèche-cum-Big Bazaar.
The store’s products themselves range from a Rs80 jar of baby carrots to a Rs6,000 baby cot made of jute and cane. In between, as promised, is an assortment of European and Indian-influenced clothing, from peasant frocks (Rs1,050 onwards) to cotton khadi salwar kameezes (Rs1,100 onwards).
Fabulous swimming costumes and bikinis were tacked on the wall, including the kind that allows flotation devices to be fitted on the suits themselves. There are onesies galore, the soft kind we mothers go crazy looking for to hug baby’s sensitive skin. There were none of the tacky appliqués rampant in children’s clothing here, so you can pretty much be guaranteed Junior will be looking ready for the Ivy League of nursery. I loved the accessories and toys, especially the Corolle line of baby dolls, which (thankfully) come in all skin tones and generally run between Rs2,000 and Rs4,800. The baby plates, bowls and spoons felt sturdy, colourful and perfectly-shaped. The shoes seem the first ergonomically correct support I’ve seen for children in India.
And I almost wanted to procreate again so I could buy one of the cloth mobiles to hang from the crib. Restraint, I told myself, glancing at my daughter trying to crawl into a too-small wooden high chair.
You and I know the catch—price. Everything is terribly expensive. Perhaps that’s the point, but a Rs650 tag on a newborn’s undergarments might hurt this business model. I didn’t see any girls’ dresses under Rs1,000. Also, the sizes seemed to run on the small side. My two-year-old fit into clothing tagged for four-year-olds. Finally, some patterns seemed too boring or too wild for children; there’s a lot of brown, not exactly a colour I’d say exudes cute.
We’re talking plastic because that’s the only way many of us will be able to afford this store. After about an hour of browsing,
I left with a Rs850 beach/pyjama set for my little one, a Rs600 blue onesie as a gift for a colleague’s newborn, and a hand-sized Rs350 Corolle rag doll that says it was made in China—but designed in France. As my daughter hugs it to sleep, perhaps some of the couture and culture will rub off. I don’t think I can afford any more than that.