Author of children’s fashion blog Smudgetikka, Linda Mc Lean studied Fashion Design at St Martins School of Art before becoming fashion editor for magazines and newspapers in the UK.  Fashion director at Junior Magazine for 15 years, Linda speaks childrenswear fluently.

Smudgetikka focuses on high end children’s fashion with an emphasis on strong photography and design. It features interesting photoshoots from top kids fashion photographers worldwide and catwalk and press show pictures pinpointing new trends in kidswear. Also the fashion editor at Family Traveller magazine, Linda will visit a few children’s trade shows this season, so look for her curly blond head in the alleys!

When did you start Smudgetikka? What does the name mean?

I started Smudgetikka just over 4 years ago, in fact the name means nothing, it was a made up name my son used for his Club Penguin account and I stole it from him (with his permission of course). I just loved the sound of it but afterwards I realised that a Smudger is an old fashioned name for a photographer dating from the time when newspapers were printed with inks that came off on your hands which made it seem more relevant.

What changes have you witnessed in the children’s industry ?

There has been a huge expansion of adult brands into the market. 15 years ago when we started Junior Magazine I had maybe 10 brands linked to adult fashion to deal with, Baby Dior, Burberry, Paul Smith, Oilily, Dries Van Noten and Moschino were the main ones, the rest of the market was old traditional Italian and French companies like Catamini and Absorba, I Pinco Pallino and Simonetta. Of course those brands are still going too and some have adapted better than others to the demand for more fashionable styles.
The other difference is the expansion of small little companies started by mostly new parents who either have a background in the industry in adult lines or just love fashion and when their children arrived felt they could do better than the offering they saw in the shops. I would say I now see something in the region of 600 different brands over the course of a few weeks doing the trade shows.
When Junior Magazine started I probably dealt with no more than 50.

What you you like most about children’s wear industry?

 The business feels freer than adult fashion, it is perfect for those with small children as nearly everybody in it is a parent and very forgiving if an appt comes with a toddler attached!
It can be great fun as well, sometimes it can feel a bit of a small pond but the fact that there are always new entries to the market each year, for example MSGN launched in the spring in Florence, keeps it interesting and some of the clothes are so cute you just want adult versions for yourself.

Has the attitude of kids who come to photoshoot really changed ?

This I think has changed a little but it depends on the parents. I am sure you have seen the Instagram accounts that many of the models in the US have. In the US particularly child modelling has always been more serious than the UK or Europe, I remember years ago on one of my first shoots in Miami being amazed that the kids came on a go-see with little black portfolio books.
There is definitely more social media about kids shoots now, Mum’s often post pictures of their kids latest shoots but in general I think the attitude from the kids is still the same, some absolutely love it and some really shouldn’t be doing it.
For me the key thing is that they should listen to you and take direction and inevitably they do lose some spontaneity as they work more which makes it really nice when you work with a child on their first shoots. After a while you can then see their confidence grows the more they do and some mothers in fact do this to give the child more confidence and the ability to socialise more rather than any notion of fame or money.

A kids photographer whose work you particularly like?

 There are many photographers whose work I like a lot, this again has changed with the growth of the designer side of the business and the awareness of fashion in general. I began taking photographs myself and did quite a few shoots for the magazine but I find it more interesting to work as a team with a good photographer and not to have to concentrate on the specifics of a shot but more the overall feeling, I think photographers need a great team around them to create a really strong shoot.
I like what Melanie Rodriguez and Deborah Sfez do together as a team, I like Jill Greenburg‘s work, Achim Lippoth, Sandra Freij, Katrina Tang, Ulla Nyeman, Anna Palma, Frank Malthierry…… I could actually name at least 25 great kids photographers!

A specific kids photo campaign that caught your eyes this season?

 Pale Cloud have been producing some beautiful campaign shoots every season. Bonnie Young also has strong imagery.

Do you travel a lot to kids trade show? which one did you visit last season to which ones will you visit this summer?

Yes always off to a trade show! I go to all the main European shows, Pitti Bimbo, Playtime Paris, Bubble London, CIFF Kids in Copenhagen and then sometimes a different one, I have been to Kleine Fabriek in the past and I went to Dusseldorf last season.

What are your favourites and why? Is the town where they take place also important and what inspiration do you take from the trips to trade shows besides the show itself?

 I adore visiting both Florence and Copenhagen because they are the two trips where I have time to get out into the city and take inspiration from what is around me, the stores, the exhibitions and the people. I find the most inspiring trade shows for the variety and quality of exhibitors to be Pitti Bimbo and Playtime Paris.

Your 2 favourite kidswear brands?

This changes at times but I consistently like what Anne Kurris produces, she has a brilliant eye for colour as do most of the Belgium designers and a quirky sense of humour which is great for kidswear and I love the new Dolce & Gabbana line which is really a mini me of the adults now, for pure luxury its hard to beat but is astonishingly expensive.

And the kidswear stores that you really enjoy visiting?

I am ashamed to say I hardly ever go into a kids store anymore as by the time the clothes are delivered I’ve moved onto the next season and now my son is 17 he loves to shop for himself. I do think Liberty has a very good selection of designer names though and the new redesigned Selfridges floor also has some great new names. I also always visit Illums in Copenhagen when I am there though really its for the home items but I do like to have a sneaky look at their clothing too.

An e-store that you find particularly well done and attractive?

We have two of the biggest kids e-stores in the UK with Alex and Alexa and Childrensalon both of which have a huge selection. I think Smallable has an interesting edit too, then there are some up and coming e-stores that make a huge effort to find interesting designers such as Shan and Toad, Ladida and Babesta.

Finally, our favourite kids magazines?

I look at Papier Mache, La Petite and Babiekins all online, I never buy paper magazines any more, I gave up Vogue which I had consistently bought for decades last year. I do pick up the magazines at the trade fairs though and both Milk and Kidswear would be favourites, also Doolittle and Naif can have interesting shoots and articles. Its nice that each country has a kids magazine that is a glossy designer led product.