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Finding Chic Kids’ Clothes

SYLVANA WARD-DURRETT remembers the late nights well: The former director of special projects for Vogue and mother of two (with one currently on the way) would find herself hunched over her laptop, hunting for kids clothing into the wee hours, the only spare time she had. “I would have no less than 25 browser tabs open,” she said. “You have the mass e-tailers for basics, but for more special and higher quality pieces that will last more than two wears, I’d have to scour the internet for small, indie boutiques.” After she vented to fellow Vogue alum Luisana Mendoza Roccia, a mom of three, the pair realized there had to be a better way. “You’re used to shopping for everything in your life with so many conveniences, but then you enter the children’s clothing market and you’re back to 1991,” said Ms. Mendoza Roccia.

And so the pair teamed up to create Maisonette, an online marketplace which launched this week. The site pulls together a carefully edited assortment of kids clothing, accessories and décor from a global network of boutiques and brands. You can find embroidered cotton rompers from Acorn Toy Shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., striped chino trousers from cult-favorite Spanish brand Bobo Choses or Oeuf’s mod birch twin bunk-beds. Maisonette, which features merchandise for newborns up to 12-year-olds, is a mashup ofFarfetch with its direct link to boutiques, Moda Operandi for its curated mix of brands and Net-a-Porter for its user-friendly luxury experience.

Rockets of Awesome, launched last summer by Rachel Blumenthal, wife of Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal, serves a similar market. “Parents today are really busy. Kids have this recurring need—they’re outgrowing their clothes and staining shirts so you’re replacing their wardrobes every season,” said Ms. Blumenthal, who was formerly the CEO and founder of Cricket’s Circle, a website for new and expectant mothers. Rockets uses a quiz—paired with a data-driven algorithm—to divine the fashion tastes of your children (sizes 2 to 14) and then sends a handpicked box of 8 to 12 items for them to try on. You only keep and pay for what you like. It sends boxes four times a year, at the start of each new season.

Though Ms. Blumenthal describes the company not as an apparel brand but rather “a data science and technology service that delivers a dynamic retail experience,” the clothes—designed by an in-house team of alums from J. Crew, Ralph Lauren and Gap—have plenty of charm and just enough sophistication. The signature item is a silver bomber jacket (printed with “Rockets of Awesome” on the back) that kids can customize with patches and pins. Parents can also write in special requests, such as “my son only likes dinosaur prints” or “my daughter won’t wear anything she has to pull over her head,” which the company can use to further tailor your deliveries.

Existing fashion retailers are also expanding into children’s clothes, which isn’t a surprise considering sales reached $31 billion in the U.S. last year, according to a report from market research firm Euromonitor. Last spring, Farfetch, the e-commerce site that pulls inventory from an international mix of high-end boutiques and brands, added children’s clothes. The response was immediate, said Candice Fragis, director of buying and merchandising. Its children’s selection favors high-end designers whose clothing parents may well wear themselves. Moncler, Burberry and Stella McCartney are top sellers, and Kenzo’s animal-embroidered sweatshirts fly off the site, along with anything worn by royals (see: Prince George, Princess Charlotte) and other tiny influencers (North West).

Julia Sloan, a beauty executive based in Brooklyn, N.Y., used to do a grand children’s-clothes shopping spree once a year while visiting her parents in upstate New York. “I’d take inventory and my husband and I would hit the mall while the kids stayed with the grandparents,” she said. “It was a whole-day affair.”