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How Romeo Beckham, age 8, became a world fashion icon

If 50 is the new 30, in Hollywood then the stylish efforts of celebrity offspring has made five the new 19. Proving that you can never get to grips with colour charts or fine tailoring too young is Romeo Beckham who this week was unveiled as one of Britain's best dressed men.

The blonde-haired middle son of David and Victoria Beckham is eight years old but, according to GQ magazine, he's already the nation's 26th most stylish male.

The ranking means that, at 4ft 2ins, the designer-loving schoolboy cuts a more impressive figure in the style stakes than fully grown rivals Jude Law, Jarvis Cocker and Prince William.

Of course, mum Victoria is delighted to have a fashion lover follow in her footsteps. In 2009 she revelled in Romeo's love of style saying: "The other boys are all about going to the beach; he's not interested. He's like, 'I want to go to work with mummy', and he sits there going through the collection, feeling the fabrics and giving his opinion."

According to the magazine, Romeo's inclusion in the list is down to the youngster being "frighteningly tuned in" when it comes to looking good.

But perhaps the scarier thing is -- he's not alone.

Stylish celebrity children are the latest fashion icons. Suri Cruise, the four-year-old daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, has fashion blogs dedicated to her daily outfit choices and according to her mum she has been "picking out her own clothes since one-and-a-half".

Such dedication to image makes Madonna's fashion designer daughter Lourdes look positively ancient at 14.

Of course it helps to be a mini-trendsetter when your daddy's rich and your mum's a bit of a style icon herself, but it's not just Hollywood's young things that are keen on looking their best.

Cathy Martin, Belfast-based director of style agency Fashion Pharmacy, says: "My 10-year-old daughter wears Uggs (and only Uggs) and loves Hunter wellies, Hollister jeans and Jack Wills hoodies, so I know first hand that children's attitudes to fashion have become more advanced!

"Even though I work in the fashion industry, I never exposed her to any of this, so I strongly believe peers and TV are a major influence."

Compared to previous generations, children today have greater access to media that offer them a wider variety of style influences.

While back in the '80s your son or daughter might have hankered after a bright red bodywarmer to look like Back To The Future's Marty McFly, now they want a pair of Romeo Beckham dVb shades.

"Willow Smith, Hannah Montana, Selena Gomez and Suri Cruise are all icons," says Cathy.

"This age group has its own TV channels and magazines through which these idols market their style. Even mainstream shows like X Factor are hugely influential."

We can't blame the kids, though, for wanting what they see. Designers and marketing experts have been very canny about exploiting the children's clothing market now worth more than $44bn.

An increasing number of designers, such as Marc Jacobs, Burberry and Philip Lim, have moved into the sector and it's not just the kids who are seduced.

According to high-street retailer Debenhams, parents are keen to make sure their children are well turned out and willing to blow a week's salary updating their child's wardrobe every season.

Research by the store saw parents confess to splashing out on trend-led fashions and, in comparison to their own experiences growing up, more than half of parents said they wouldn't dare dress their own children in hand-me-downs if they could afford new clothes.

Kate Liszka, director of childrenswear buying at Debenhams, says: "The amount of money some parents are willing to spend on kitting out their kids in the latest catwalk fashions would pay for a family holiday."

She laughs: "We've always been famed for our competitive streak for keeping up with the Jones but it seems that now top of parents' agenda when it comes to their kids is keeping up with the Cruises!"

Irish Independent