TNC COOLHUNTING: The Kidult in Each of Us

September 5, 2022
Written By:
Written By:
September 5, 2022

Is it a toy? Is it a bag? Or what? The past menswear fashion season has seen the rise of playful bags on catwalks. Unexpected shapes and ultra-colored shades were the highlights of the main collections, recalling childhood memories through #Kidult aesthetics. Pigeons, Lay’s chips, toys, or casino fiches have been turned into luxury accessories, challenging the traditional models with a touch of irony and nostalgia.

It’s not a new trope in the industry: it is enough to say Moschino and it’s done! Also, the jewelry market has made childhood tropes a proper style, injecting a playful feeling into everyday life. The iconic Éliou design is quite an obvious example, due to its joyful signature. Approved by authorities like Harry Style, Bad Bunny, and Angus Cloud, Éliou is making a statement: the plasticky-like necklaces are spearheading the kidult jewelry trend, combining lightness and carefreeness in its handpainted ceramics details.

But why has this trend invaded the whole market? Why have fashion houses chosen this historic moment to highlight the kidult topic?

Here, once again, your TNC Trend Hunter got you covered. Relax, smile, and enjoy the behind-the-scene of cultural forces that have led the childhood trend in the latest catwalks.

The Kidult Trend: This Is (Not Just) a Bag!

Male model with the purple Louis Vuitton Paint Can bag ispired by Kidult aesthetics
Source: Louis Vuitton

How to explain this specific trend? I guess a riddle would fit perfectly the speech!

Magritte set the fashion something like 100 years ago. Let’s make a step back into his This is (not) a pipe – Man, I assume you all well know it! Otherwise, Google or a history of art book must fulfill the gap! –

The paint has made the public question the reality they were looking at. What you assume is a pipe, it’s actually something else: a representation of reality itself. You can’t smoke it, you can’t touch its rounded wood nor smell it.  But this is not the first idea that pops into your mind when you are in front of it.

Imagine, late in July, you were at the JW Anderson catwalk, where the hype-discussed clutch bag was shown. The first thing one would say is “ it’s a pigeon”.

JW Anderson Model on the catwalk, handing the pigeon clutch bag
Source: Vanity Fair

No, it’s not. It’s a bag. But its real essence and meaning are hidden behind its representation.

Let’s make a step further. Is it a bag? Here, according to Magritte, you can swear it is!

But what, if you ask the same question to a trend forecaster?


Or rather, this container is the catalyst of specific contemporary happenings and cultural features.

And that’s exactly how a trend works, finding its representation through fashion items. Pop culture and collective social behaviors have always been primary drivers of influence over fashion, affecting the way we communicate our identity.

Given this, how can we explain this kidult bag trend?

A Runaway From Hard Times

At the beginning of June, at the graduate show of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Demna – of course, who else?! – was spotted with a Lay’s chips bag, used as a purse. It was symptomatic of the season that was about to start.

Behind the scene, the jewelry and accessories industries were already playing with childhood tropes. At that moment, with all his provocation, Demna just spoiled what was already taken from contemporary culture and brought to the ateliers’ tables.

Detail from the Luois Vuitton runaway, focusing on the paper boat shaped bag
Source: Vogue

Louis Vuitton’s Strange Math collection confirmed it: as never before, the fashion giant has directed its craftsmanship toward imagination and childhood naivety, presenting – among others-  truck-toy and paper-boat-shaped bags.

Childhood memories have been a dreamy runaway in the hardest moment of the pandemic. And with the recession at the door and all the crisis it has carried, the Kidult trend is a reminder of the gold, old days.

So not surprising to see then the Casino items in the Chanel collection or plushes bags on the Thom Browne catwalk.

In the last 2 years, according to Toy R. US, adult enthusiasts increasingly bought toys as a coping mechanism during hard times. A third of Lego players are definitely adults, as well as the main collectors of pop culture and tv show gadgets, like One Piece, Ninja Turtles, Hotwheels, or Star Wars.

Feeling nostalgic? That’s exactly the point!

Y2K Kidult Nostalgia 4 Our Lost youth

three frame image of three models on Thom Browne catwalk, handling playful and toy inspired bags
Source: L’Officiel

Nothing new, since this feeling with a good bunch of vintage, has always affected fashion and trends. But in this specific case, the connection seems to be stronger than before.

Not a secret that when the world was finally reopening the door to life, fashion trends started to embed that feeling of resilience and change. Just think at the fun prints and energizing colors that would make the wearer’s soul a little lighter, in a time when we all are under immense pressure and rushing for setting an uncertain future.

A quarter-life crisis? Not really. Rather it’s an answer to the historical moment… with a stroke of humor and style!

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