Why are children’s icons still a surefire hook for the fashion industry today?


Is about to meet 92 years and it still wastes as much energy and convening power as the first day, or even more if possible. Mickey Mouse It is the most profitable and lucrative popular icon in history, a claim that has no sociocultural barriers but does not understand age. And is that the mouse of Disney he has his greatest admirers among the adult public, who eagerly demand his presence in the garments they wear. A pull that the fashion industry, always attentive to our ‘basic needs’, has been able to take advantage of.

The latest example? The collection he launched Bershka last October 9, dedicated entirely to the rodent, with garments for men and women, as well as accessories such as sneakers. It is not the first time that the Inditex firm has launched such a line. He already did it at the beginning of the year and the reception was so good (it was sold out in a few weeks) that hence the decision to repeat. A phenomenon that highlights the fact that the fashion industry is going through a phase of infantilization whose mechanisms go through appeal to the nostalgia of adult consumers. And to achieve this there is nothing better than diving into the cinematographic imagination.

The childish nostalgia to which some fashion firms appeal does not distinguish between genres either.  Bershka's dedicated Mickey Mouse collection offers clothing and accessories for both men and women.

The childish nostalgia to which some fashion firms appeal does not distinguish between genres either. Bershka’s collection dedicated to Mickey Mouse offers clothing and accessories for both men and women.

That they tell it but to designers like Marc jacobs, Riccardo tisci, Jeremy scott or Alessandro michele, to cite just a few flagrant cases from the luxury sector. The first, for example, already put Mickey Mouse at the center of its creative radar a few years ago when, on the occasion of the character’s 90th anniversary, it launched a collection of garments at prices that almost exceeded three figures on the label. It was to be expected since he himself, without going any further, wears a tattoo of sponge Bob, thus proving that you don’t have to be 7 years old for your hero to be the protagonist of the Nickelodeon series.

Detail of the Mickey Mouse head bag from Gucci's 2019 S / S show, on sale for 3,500 €.

Detail of the bag in the shape of the Mickey Mouse head from Gucci’s 2019 s / w fashion show, on sale for € 3,500.

“Mickey has become an eternally chic pinup. Regardless of whether it is in its purest and populist form or in more subversive and surreal versions, nothing projects a cooler image of American imagery than a T-shirt with a Mickey print – just look at Pat Cleveland, Kate Moss and Anya Ziourova to get the evidence, “said fashion journalist Kasia Hastings. “Mickey injects an ever-cherished sense of sartorial fun.”

Cotton T-shirt with Alice in Wonderland print, by Miu Miu (450 €).

Cotton T-shirt with Alice in Wonderland print, by Miu Miu (€ 450).

But he is not the only cartoon character who has become a sought-after cult object among fashion designers. Riccardo Tisci decided to dedicate his fall / winter 2013 collection for Givenchy to Bambi, stamping the fawn on a series of neoprene sweatshirts (with prices around 1,000 euros) and which inevitably became part of the iconography among the timeless pieces of the firm. Following its wake, this winter Benetton has presented suede jackets in which Bambi can also be seen on the chest. A wink from Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (Creative director of the Italian firm) to that child that we were and who still wonders who killed Bambi? while emptying his wallet to comfort his nostalgic childhood trauma.

Parade o / i 2020-21 of Benetton.

Parade o / i 2020-21 of Benetton.

“The fundamental key to this success is the feeling of nostalgia it generates. We all remember our childhood and thanks to characters like Mickey Mouse, Bambi or Minnie Mouse we can bring back and relive those years “, they affirm from the digital marketing agency Cetrex. A train at full speed that a long list of signatures has wanted to stop getting on. This same week, the French Longchamp put her most representative bag and best-seller, the model Le Pliage, at the disposal of a succulent and striking collaboration with Pokemon, the Japanese video game saga. A blank canvas rendered to the figure of one of the most representative and popular creatures: Pikachu. “We had not explored entertainment and gaming before. It’s a very inspiring world, especially with Pokémon and its iconic pet, Pikachu. Our two worlds, the real and the virtual, combine perfectly in this collaboration ”, assures the creative director of the house. Sophie Delafontaine.

Le Pliage bag in canvas and leather with Pikachu print, by Longchamp (195 €).

Le Pliage bag in canvas and leather with Pikachu print, by Longchamp (€ 195).

The transcendence and importance of these child characters has also allowed their democratization in terms of the industry. It’s not just the big luxury brands that have adopted these nostalgic characters as their lucrative pets (Balenciaga has done the same with a handbag in the shape of Hello Kitty at 790 euros which, however, is already sold out), the low cost also brings it to our closet, while Zara print t-shirts with Dumbo.

T-shirt printed with Dumbo, from Zara (15.95 €).

T-shirt printed with Dumbo, from Zara (€ 15.95).

In this new scenario, the effect of Peter Pan syndrome it has given new wings to the market. Thus, writer Chris Petit, a contributor to The Guardian, affirms that consumerism is a form of denial. “Psychologically speaking, it is another form of accelerated desire with an emphasis on repetition,” he argues. In other words: it aims to systematically seek pleasure. “The economic survival of this society requires a regression; a form of culture that promotes immaturity, “he adds.

Leather mini bag in the shape of Hello Kitty, by Balenciaga (790 €).

Leather mini bag in the shape of Hello Kitty, from Balenciaga (€ 790).

Hence, regression is presented as the most feasible way to make profits and become the industry’s way of survival. Fashion will not be child’s play, but it is increasingly clear that appealing to each of us can be the goose that lays the golden eggs.

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