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'Podaegi' emerging as mom's must-have in US

2012/02/25 | 751 views |  | Permalink | Source

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NEW YORK ― What comes to mind when you think of the traditional Korean baby carrier "Podaegi?" Dull, outdated and just plain ugly? Then you haven't seen the upgraded baby sling that just got a makeover far from home.

Emerging as a hip way to carry a baby, podaegi is anything but old-fashioned in the U.S.

Hollywood celebrities including Gwen Stefani, Julia Roberts and Courtney Cox are among many leading the new trend by cradling their babies Korean style.

"We're seeing lots of moms looking for podaegi as an alternative to traditional front carriers", says Lisa Castillo, manager at Pea Pod Babies, a baby goods shop in Manhattan. "It's seen as comfortable and chic, a perfect combo for moms who don't want to sacrifice style".

Korea's traditional cradle is a wide rectangular blanket made of quilted fabric with two long straps. Hassle-free design with few variations ― but the new wraps are much fancier than that.

"We have silk, organic cotton, faux fur and other options that can be custom ordered", says Janice Lim, who runs a baby specialty store in New Jersey. "It's interesting to see podaegi get such a luxury upgrade from its traditional status".

Most moms go with organic cotton, she says, but they make sure their wraps stand out with bright colors and patterns ranging from pink to polka dots.

And they also pay a price for a fashionable look.

Podaegi typically costs $40 to $50, but higher end selections can cost as much as $200.

"I have podaegi in four different colors to fit the outfit I wear", says Jane Remington, who was at Pea Pod Babies shopping for her fifth podaegi. "I don't think there is any other more fashionable option for moms who want to carry their babies but don't want to look dreadful".

Besides style, marketers also promote convenience and comfort.

"We love the podaegi for cooking, housework, yardwork and other times when a quick back-carrying option is desirable", explains Cotton Cradles, an online shop specializing in baby carriers. "It is comfortable, cozy, versatile and adorable, not to mention, very convenient".

Although podaegi is rising in popularity, many consumers aren't aware of its origin, according to industry experts.

"It's great that podaegi is becoming well-known, but it would be even better if people knew it's from Korea", says Lim.

By Jane Han

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