Children's hoodies with built-in gas masks will soon be on sale at Walthamstow Market.

The adult versions of the £20 jackets have alarmed shoppers since they went on sale at Christmas.

And now tiny versions for children as young as five have been ordered.

Wearers can zip the nylon hoodies completely over their faces, with only two plastic eye windows to see through, and a small space for breathing.

But some shoppers at the High Street market said they were scary and inappropriate.

Tracey Abderson, the Chingford mother of a nine-year-old who was held up at knifepoint by a 12-year-old gang member in Walthamstow, said the jackets would encourage young criminals.

She said: "It's disgusting. They will only intimidate more people.

"It's frightening enough that my daughter was put in that situation but imagine if you were face-to-face with someone zipped up head to toe?"

But stallholder Lester Tilbury said he was fed-up with people coming up to him and having a go because of his stock.

He said: "I've had rows with people about them. Customers think that just by putting them on, people are going to become bank robbers or terrorists.

"What they don't understand is that it's the people that commit the crime, not the clothes."

Mr Tilbury sells the hoodies in brown and grey camouflage and plain black and he said the fashion was no different than other specialist sports or army clothes coming into the mainstream.

He added: "Hoodies are banned in shopping centres, petrol garages and banks but you get hoods on the cardigans I sell to grannies."

The jackets were originally designed for snowboarders, but have become very popular with teenagers and young adults who see them as fashionable.

As well as fashion copies for £20, Mr Tilbury sells the original ski version, which is hot air sealed, waterproof and lined.

Hoods are usually worn down and the jackets have a special popper which allows them to be fastened neatly.

But this is no comfort for Ms Anderson, who also has a son aged three.

She said: "At the end of the day why would anybody want to wear a ski jacket made for snow?

"The only people buying them would be the people in the gangs. "

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