Style

Fashion star, 5, attracts online fans — and critics

June 25, 2013 at 12:02 PM ET

Gymboree and babyGap? Not for the newest — and likely youngest — fashion star.

Hailed as one of the most stylish 5-year-olds, Alonso Mateo has thousands of online fans eager to check out his catwalk-ready outfits.

Alonso, who has 11,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 11,900 on his Facebook fan page, is shown in chic, tailored outfits, and takes some selfies in the mirror while rocking shades by Tom Ford or a pair of drop-crotch pants and Gucci loafers. He produces many of his own photos with an iPad, and often shops for new clothes with his mother. He also has his own walk-in closet for his clothing collection.

Ugo Mozie, a stylist who has worked with Chris Brown and Beyonce, called him a "style icon" in The Cut. "At five years old, [he] has more style than most of us could dream of," raved one fan on Twitter. Plus, he did it all without being the son of a celebrity or gracing the pages of a fashion magazine.

However, there has been a downside to his social media popularity. His parents, who live with him in Laguna Beach, Calif., told TODAY.com in an e-mail that they are facing severe criticism for posting the photos.

Alonso’s mother, Luisa Fernanda Espinosa, is a freelance fashion stylist who is able to dress her son in the latest Gucci, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and more. She has 133,000 followers on her own Instagram account, where she often posts photos of her stylish son in various backgrounds.

For all those online who can’t get enough of Alonso and his ensembles, there also have been others who have mocked his appearance and claimed he is growing up to be shallow and self-obsessed.

"He looks absurd," wrote one commenter on a Daily Mail article. "It's not cute, sweet or delightful. It's dumb." Some, however, are more concerned for the child's development. "Poor child, the ego of Instagram, Twitter, etc. got to his head at that tender age," wrote another.

Too stylish, too soon? Kid fashion blogs draw critics

Espinosa and her husband, financier Jose Agustin Valdes Canales, told TODAY.com that there has been “an extreme negative backlash’’ and that they have received “so much hate mail.”

“Mateo's Instagram pics were just uploaded for the pure fun of it,’’ Espinosa wrote in an e-mail. “It was never to try to make money out of it or to make him a child celebrity, even less ‘exploiting’ him or endangering him in any kind of way. We are very dedicated parents and incredibly fortunate to have the means to enjoy many nice things, including clothes. We never intended to portray him or our family as shallow or materialistic, but we feel it has only spiraled down that way.”

The photo shoots are just a small part of his overall life, according to his parents.

“Photos uploaded are just brief snapshots of his life and do not clearly portray him as the smart, funny and kind individual that he is,’’ Espinosa wrote. “Photos of him horsing around, being silly, getting dirty and playing like any other five-year-old kid are part of our own personal albums.”

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