Toys Echo Adult Textile and Tech Trends

VTech Electronics' new SmartWatch lets kids personalize content. (Photo c/o VTech)

Wearable technology like VTech's SmartWatch echoes adult tech trends. (Photo c/o VTech)

By Kristin Morency Goldman, Toy Industry Association

In addition to providing updates on toy and play trends in the marketplace, the U.S. Toy Industry Association (TIA) monitors trends in other industries that can influence the toy aisle.

Recently, TIA staff attended CE Week, New York’s largest technology show, and Texworld, a global trade show for the fashion industry, to scope out the latest trends in tech and fashion for 2016 and beyond.

Below, I look at some of the cutting edge innovations in tech and textiles that toymakers will want to keep their eyes on as they begin developing and marketing their next hit toys and games.

Kids’ Wearables Next Big Thing in Toys
Analysts, innovators and thought-leaders who attended CE Week explored the state of personal electronics and provided hints as to what’s on the horizon. According to predictions, the future looks especially bright for wearables.

The world of wearable technology is quickly expanding. According to a recent report from IDTechEx, the wearables market is expected to grow from US$20 billion in 2015 to almost US$70 billion by 2025. Moving from desktop computers to laptops to mobile devices, wearables are the next phase of the “shrinking machine” evolution, offering consumers even more unfettered connectivity.

From products that monitor daily routines and provide feedback, to wearables that offer enhanced convenience when it comes to device controls, data storage and communication (think: “smart” jewellery), wearables offer companies a unique opportunity to address the habits and preferences of today’s consumer through a blend of fashion and technology.

“We see the wearables trend growing in popularity among children, who gravitate to products that adapt or can be personalized to suit their interests and lifestyles,” noted Adrienne Appell, TIA trend specialist.

“Over the next year, we expect the wearable toy segment to grow beyond kids’ fitness bands to include other accessories that are fashionable, functional and fun to use.”

Textile Trends Appear in Craft Kits
Some of the latest trends in fashion on display at Texworld will likely make their way to the toy aisle and inspire future doll clothing, arts & crafts, design kits, toy packaging, and more.

Creativity for Kids Fleece Blanket Kit

Creativity for Kids' super-soft Deluxe Fleece Blanket kit promotes quiet comfort.

Designers are using rich colors, jewel tones and lush fabrics, like velvet, to make things seem more luxurious and expensive. In kids’ wear, crushed velvet is making a comeback and will likely influence doll fashions and accessories.

“Soft velour, smooth suede and embellishments are a treat for kids’ visual and tactile senses – and any doll outfit or accessory that emulates what adults are wearing will appeal to today’s fashion-conscious tweens,” said Appell.

Soft, fluffy fibers with a “cocooning” effect are also on the rise, in the form of “scarf” sweaters that you can wrap around your body and other cozy clothes. “The ‘Quiet Comfort’ trend in fashion encourages us to slow down, relax, and lounge without any digital distractions,” said Appell. “This back-to-basics mentality could have a positive influence on play in general, promoting it as a way to de-stress and enjoy downtime.”

In terms of prints, pixilation and photo elements (including black and white photos and retro images) are cropping up everywhere – from t-shirts to totes. We can also expect to see a rise in Americana-style graphics, including clothes inspired by old road signs, license plates, and neon signs.

“Tweens and teens in particular will respond to retro, Americana, and other offbeat graphics that feature scientific symbolism (inspired by the periodic table, for example) and classic block typography letters,” said Appell. “When designing fashion-themed playthings like DIY kits and accessories, these are important trends to keep in mind if you want to stay relevant with older children.”

For more information about trends, contact the Toy Industry Association.

Kristin Morency Goldman Kristin Morency Goldman is a communications specialist/journalist with the Toy Industry Association. Her articles can be found on the Association website, in various global trade publications and in TIA’s e-newsletter, Toy News Tuesday.

All rights reserved. This column may not be reproduced in part or in whole without written consent.
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Toys & Games Magazine.

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