It's too early to say it's a renaissance, but Silver Cross is definitely in some kind of turnaround. When we were entering the stroller market, the anachronistic, governess-centric brand was trying to sell middling umbrella strollers by giving prams with custom coachwork to the likes of Brooke Shields and Sarah Jessica Parker. Knowing that some random actress got a $2,800 baby boat for free was not helpful in deciding to buy a Bugaboo; it seemed totally irrelevant.
Hong Kong toy importer David Halsall bought the bankrupt Silver Cross in 2002, but the North American license had been bought by Silver Cross Baby, and Halsall didn't buy it back until a couple of years ago. Which partly explains why it's taken them so long to get their act together and start designing strollers for people in the 21st century, not just the 19th. [The business story here is kind of interesting, and the stories about Silver Cross over the last few years show that apparently no one takes the baby business seriously as a reporting subject; it's either pointless puffery or reprinted press releases. But on to the gear.]
Silver Cross finally released a whole new product line this spring, including the new lightweight folding stroller, the Dazzle. DT reader Melissa sees a lot of similarities between the Dazzle and the Philippe Starck Maclaren, and think that's the intent of the design. There's a real effort to simplify and streamline the traditionally pole-y folding stroller mechanism, and the solid wheels and curvy handles are feel like direct nods to the Starckmobile.
But those end bits also give the game away. When Starck scribbled his stroller's S-curvy profile on that napkin--right above the row of zeroes in his fee, I'm sure--Maclaren's engineers still had to figure out how to make the folding, curving struts actually work. Silver Cross's designers have created the appearance of swooping, modern curves, but only by swapping out the handles and the wheels. The stroller's actual structure is still straight, and conventional.
Which isn't to say it's bad. In fact, I think the line--and especially the way the handle makes the whole stroller look like it's a single piece of bent metal, like a paper clip--is pretty elegant, ingenious, even. And if it works ergonomically, then why not?
Function is another area where the Dazzle breaks company with the MacStarck whose sexy curves and non-existent range make it the Jessica Alba of strollers. With its reclining seat, carrycot attachment, and car seat adapters, on the other hand, the full-function Dazzle is Heidi Klum.
But not Seal. If the silly Dazzle name didn't tip you off already, Silver Cross's new brand and direction is entirely and solely focused on women. On the website, the new products are props for a Klum-looking model, who laughs as her prop kids get in the way during a fake fashion photo shoot. The idea seems to be that Silver Cross is the quintessential fashion accessory for glamorous celebrity moms--just like you!!
It's a mix of some of the most superficial aspects of modern parenting with some of the most old-fashioned. Which is what can happen, I guess, when you try to reincarnate a 130-year-old brand.
Silver Cross [silvercross.co.uk via dt reader melissa]
Babyfleet's taking pre-orders for the Dazzle, £250 with July delivery. No word yet on non-UK shipping [babyfleet.co.uk]