Today is the launch of MORI’s The Gruffalo collection for babies and toddlers. The London based clothing brand has also devised a secret Gruffalo crumble recipe in celebration of the book’s 20th anniversary year.
Mori’s signature organic cotton and bamboo fabrics, which are the base for their sleep and daywear ranges, is now adorned by illustrative details from the celebrated children’s story. Expect to see favourite characters, scenes and quotes from The Gruffalo across the range. Featuring four exclusive prints, the day and sleep collection ranges from newborn up to 4 years with prices from £18 for a T-Shirt to £69.50 for the Clever Sleeping Bag.
Akin Onal, MORI’s Founder says:
“We were thrilled when Magic Light Pictures reached out to us about collaborating for the character’s 20th anniversary. The Gruffalo is such a memorable part of family story time, making this the perfect partnership for MORI. As a brand dedicated to helping to improve a family’s sleep, we believe that story time is an essential part of a child’s bedtime routine as it helps to strengthen bonds between families. That’s why we’re so delighted to be a part of creating this experience.”
Written by renowned children’s author Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, The Gruffalo has won countless awards and sold over 13.5 million copies, delighting readers – young and old alike – for two decades.
Stella Afnaim, MORI’s Head of Product says:
“As a grandmother, reading bedtime stories to my grandchildren is the highlight of my day. Being Head of Product at MORI, I appreciate how important soft yet functional clothing is for little ones, especially at bedtime. Our sleepwear is created with love and I can’t wait to read The Gruffalo with my three grandchildren sitting on my lap in their Gruffalo PJs.”
The Gruffalo collection is available now at babymori.com and in selected retailers nationwide.
Even though we’re seeking out the last drops of summer it’s time to start looking at the autumn wardrobe and N21’s pop-up at Harrods will do nicely.
We’ve been blown away by the images from this collection and you will be too. The fashion brand, created and directed by Alessandro Dell’ Acqua is now available at Harrods. Signature tie-dye that Alessandro featured in his SS19 women’s collection is present here, as well as maxi logo sweatshirts and oversized bows.
Not only are there super stylish pieces for girls and boys, there are also some Mini Me items to double up with your sons or daughters.
For boys, expect prints capturing a fanciful image of the ‘American Dream’, using a strong, graphic statement on sweatshirts, cotton shirts and tracksuits. A stars & stripes theme characterises the check jackets with soft sheepskin detailing, as well as the tartan plaid shirts with logo embroidered, while a 1950s feel is featured in the maxi checkboard knits.
The collection for girls includes chic, modern pieces with fun at the heart of it. Rock’n’roll vibes are clear thanks to red & black leopard prints on maxi hoodies, retro sport tracksuits and bombers. Pop accents can be found on the black-on-pink star prints that add a graphic touch to piping-embellished shirts, smart pleated skirts which are paired with sweet ruche-trimmed stripe blouses and poplin polo dresses with stylish, yet simple yokes.
The range is suitable for girls and boys aged 4-14.
Head to Harrods for the N21 pop up which will remain open until early October.
Boden will launch a Harry Potter inspired collection for Mini Boden next month. City Kids has a sneak peek at what’s in store
As you might expect from Boden, this range is classy and isn’t simply a case of lifting the Gryffindor crest or repurposing a series of cloaks for fancy dress. Designed entirely in-house by the Mini Boden design team you can expect bespoke prints, unique embroidery, colour change sequins, fluttering appliqué and 3D detailing on tops, capes, trousers and dresses.
There will be 81 pieces running from newborn to age 16 so that all children can wear the magic. Keep your eyes peeled for ‘House Bretons’, rugby shirts and a ‘Hegwig Cardigan’. A second collection will launch on 7th October 2019.
Mini Boden has invited customers to follow the magic by registering their interest online to be the first to know when the collection drops on Monday 5th August 2019. We hope their I.T. department is ready!
Our regular round-up of things that have caught our eye in the City Kids office this week.
Isn’t it nice when a fun activity can be vaguely educational too? For that reason, we really like these science kits from Thames and Cosmos. Yes, there probably will be mess – either cover the kitchen table in newspaper or even better convince your kids to embrace their inner scientist in the garden, but wherever they try out these experiments, you’ll be sure to see excited little faces.
From crystal growing to pre-historic discoveries and even a molecule bead making (which has a lot to do with the ever-popular slime we are told) these kits are a great way of introducing kids to the fun side of science.
Suitable for ages 8+, each fun kit is priced £8.99 and are available from 25th March at thamesandkosmos.co.uk and Amazon.
Shoes we love
Clarkshave teamed up with National Geographic for an exclusive collection of kids’ shoes inspired by some of the most amazing species of animals on the planet. The range captures the cool colours and patterns of some spectacular animals which have been photographed for the National Geographic Photo Ark.
These great shoes are printed canvas and made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and sold in boxes made from 90% recycled paper.
The collaboration is helping to highlight the #SaveTogether initiative which raises awareness of threatened species around the world, inspiring young minds to take notice of the value these animals add to our eco system and to help species at risk before it is too late.
Summer is coming which means lots of time out and about with kids in tow. It’s definitely a time when a scooter – aka a means to get them from A to B when they point blank refuse to walk another step – can come in extremely handy.
Carousel, Tesco’s own exclusive toy brand, has officially launched its new Tilt ‘n’ Turn Scooter aimed at children aged roughly three to five.
At just £30 it’s a bit of a bargain – half the price of the market leading alternative according to the peeps at Tesco – and is available in blue and purple.
Scooting can be a risky business but this one has an anti-slip deck a ‘Tilt ‘n’ Turn’ steering function to develop balance and coordination as well as three wheels for stability.
A handy thing to chuck in the boot of the car we say.
Without wanting to get too over excited about the prospect summer sunshine on its way, we love these new kids’ hats from headwear companyBufffor keeping little ones safe from harsh rays.
Lots of colours and designs to choose from plus styles that offer supreme 50+ UV protection by ensuring their eyes, hair, skin and neck are all fully shielded from the sun. Ideal for those long sunny days on the beach that we are all dreaming of.
How great is it when you can buy kids clothes that look amazing but don’t cost the earth? We always love H&M children’s wear but we’re particularly impressed by their latest collaboration with Paris-based artist Nathalie Lété.
The capsule collection features several of Lété’s colourful and poetic artworks as prints on a wide range of children’s clothing and accessories and is now available in selected stores worldwide, as well as online at www.hm.com.
The H&M collaboration is a childrenswear collection for babies and kids, with a wide range of vibrant t-shirts, jackets, jeans, dresses, jumpsuits, shorts and swimsuits. The colourful animal and oral prints created by Nathalie Lété are key.
All her designs start with paintings in acrylics by hand, which are then artfully arranged together to create an imaginative and fun story.
For this H&M collaboration, Lété brought to life a tropical jungle with chameleons and tigers, along with her iconic representation of owers with cats, birds and rabbits. So pretty and perfect for summer.
Head into store or get online soon as we predict it this gorgeous collection will sell out quickly!
Play & Go is a Belgian-based company offering clever, colourful and inspiring products for your kids and home. We think their Storage Bags are a great idea.
Made from 100% cotton these hard-wearing bags allow you to literally scoop up toys and neatly tidy them away. Plus, they also double up as a playmat and come in a range of lovely prints and designs. The perfect addition to any little one’s bedroom or playroom. Find them at Kidly.co.uk
BabyBjörn has just launched a new collection specially developed for those very first days with a newborn baby. The Soft Selection features a new super-soft fabric specially created by BabyBjörn called 3D Jersey that gently hugs the newborn baby whilst at the same time providing the proper support.
For years the Swedish brand has been a firm favourite with parents who rave about their practical, stylish designs. These new additions have been created from the feedback from their customers who like the concept of really soft, snuggly fabric.
Consisting of the Baby Carrier Mini (from £79.99) and Bouncer Bliss (from £145), the Soft Selection comes in muted, warm colours and cuddly jersey and a soft, lightweight breathable mesh.
Perfect for those precious early months when little ones are really tiny.
For nine years Mint Velvet has been a go-to brand for great casual separates. Now it has turned its hand to childrens wear creating their first collection for girls aged three to ten, ‘Minty’.
Think pink jumpsuits, star print sweatshirts, denim and some super-cool prints. Underpinned with that same easy aesthetic as its main women’s wear collection, the fabrics are easy to care for and the pieces coordinate perfectly.
We love this super-stylish collection so much that we kind of wish some of it came in grow-up sizes too!
Aspace has been creating inspirational children’s rooms for over 20 years. Their furniture range is great – bright and fun but also practical and sturdy. We love the clever storage solutions they offer with cupboards and shelving built into beds. They have a few ranges to choose from so whether you want the modern Scandi style or prefer a more traditional look, there is something to suit everyone. The new catalogue is out now and if you sign up to their online newsletter Aspace are offering £20 off any orders over £150.
If you’re thinking of kitting out your kids’ bedroom, then definitely check out the website.
If the recent snow has you dreaming of the slopes, then our last minute guide to the best children’s ski wear and trips away should help
Hands up if you’re on the countdown to a skiing holiday? Great – hitting the slopes is one of the best family getaways there is. But do you also have that sinking feeling that your kids have grown out of their salopettes? There’s a least one glove missing and who knows where the thermals are?
If that’s you (and frankly that is pretty much all mums the night before a flight to Geneva) then here are some great places to pick up cool skiing kit so you can arrive in resort relaxed – if that’s possible after a two-hour transfer at 7am.
We love the clever ‘bundles’ that Little Skier have put together which take all the hassle out of buying ski kit for the kids. You basically need a children’s ski wear bundle (jacket, salopettes, gloves, goggles, snow boots) and a base layer buddle (thermals and socks). They have loads of combinations, some of which include helmets too. All are colour co-ordinated from brands like Quicksilver, Schoffel and Trespass. Such a clever time-saving idea for busy mums.
And Little Skiers are offering City Kids readers a fantastic discount on their site. Use the code CityKids15 to get an amazing 15% off spends over £100. Valid until 1st April
One-stop-shop for all the family. They have 24 stores in England – six in London alone – so you can easily pop in if you’d rather try things on. Or order online at their website has a huge range. If it’s skis, boards or boots you are looking for then Snow and Rock can help. They have a team of specialists who can offer advice.
For the coolest après kit check out St Berts. Their retro sweatshirts are perfect for lounging around in the chalet after a long day on the slopes or could be worn as a second layer under a ski jacket.
For ski kit that suits most pockets, Decathlon really has it covered. With some savvy shopping, it’s possible to kit out a child in good quality clothing, plus goggles and gloves for around £100. Plus they can supply helmets, skis and poles if you want to go the whole hog.
It’s not too late to book
If reading this puts you in the mood to hit the slopes but you haven’t yet booked, fear not – you can still find a great skiing holiday for February half term and also Easter. Get in touch with these fantastic family ski companies who can arrange accommodation and transfers, as well as ski lessons and child care.
Powder Byrne have something for everyone – from ski lessons and childcare to guided walks and ice skating for non-skiers. Their resorts are some of the most fabulous in Europe including, Zermatt, St Moritz, Gstaad and Lech and you can stay in chalets or beautiful hotels complete with spas. Childcare is well thought out and provided in creches by qualified nannies. Their wonderful concierge service will make sure you every aspect of your holiday is planned to perfection.
Another great company that offer onsite childcare, Ski Famille’s chalets are in some of the best locations for families such as Les Gets and La PLagne. Their large chalets are ideal for three or four families who want to holiday together, or they are happy to add individual families to any chalet where there is space. If you don’t mind sharing a dinner table with new people, then this could be for you. Very sociable and fun.
No one does luxe like Scott Dunn. They have beautiful chalets and hotels in major skiing designations. In Val-d’Isère and Courchevel you’ll find their award-winning in-house kids clubs, the Explorers, which caters for little ones from four months old. And if travelling to Val with tinies you don’t even have to take a buggy as Scott Dunn have teamed up with Bugaboo to offer guests a complimentary pushchair for the duration of their stay. If budget is no concern, then these are the guys to book with for a truly top trip.
Esprit have been arranging family ski holidays in resorts all over Europe for over 35 years. Their wrap-around childcare programme means (if you want to) you can ski from the first lift in the morning to the last in the afternoon, knowing that your little ones are either having super-fun lessons or being taken care of in one of Esprit’s nurseries, many of which are onsite and attached to the chalet hotel guests stay in. Nannies are fully qualified and English speaking and in the evenings they offer a babysitting and baby listening service. One of the more affordable family skiing companies, Esprit are a great starting point if you’ve never taken your kids skiing before.
Exciting news for mini fashionistas. Following on from the success of their recent Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana pop–ups, Net-a-Porter has launched a multi-brand kidswear collective of brands that will feature permanently.
The ‘collective’ is an edit of brands which have all created exclusive capsule collections for the online fashion retailer. It features comfy clothing from insider brands such as Yeah Right NYC Kids minimal white tees, alongside cosy cardigans from Alanui Kids. ATM Kids and knitwear label Chinti & Parker Kids provide some sportier pieces too.
Similar to their gorgeous grown up cashmere collection, Lingua Franca Kids’ playful designs, add a cute touch to sweaters with embroidered messages that read ‘Tree Hugger’ and ‘Cool Like That’.
For tiny toes Net-a-Porter have enlisted two of their best-selling brands with trainers from Golden Goose Deluxe and sustainable footwear brand Veja, who have a range of sneakers in vibrant colours with creative illustrations and their hallmark ‘V’ monogram.
“The new year felt like the perfect time to launch this collective,” Elizabeth von der Goltz, Net-a-porter.com’s global buying director, told Mini Vogue. “It’s January – kids are back to school but there’s this idea of cosiness and wanting to feel comfortable.”
“Whether it’s for ourselves or for our kids, we are always thinking about wellness in January so this this an extension of that – it’s luxe athleisure for kids!”
The ‘mini me’ Kids Casuals launched on the Net-a-Porter site last week and will be available throughout the season. They’re supported by a dedicated campaign featuring influencer Sai De Silva’s 7-year-old daughter, London and 20-month-old son, Rio.
But Net-a-Porter is not the only online retailer where you will find high-end kit for kids. Alexandalexa.com stocks an impressive list of designers such as Chloe, Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney that range from newborn to teenage. Founded in London, 2007 by husband and wife duo, Alex Theophanous and Alexa Till, the site aims to bring “The World’s Best Kids Brands” and have over 200 luxury labels to choose from.
Or check out childrensalon.com, the world’s largest online store for designer childrenswear who ship brands such as Burberry, Fendi and Moschino to over 160 countries.
But if you’d rather try before you buy then head to Harrods. London’s most exclusive store extended their baby department last year and their childrenswear includes the likes of J Crew and Armani.
It’s never been easier to dress your little ones in designer gear, but, just as with the grown-up versions, the price tag can be eyewatering!
Girl band member, actor, West End Star and now fashion designer. Victoria Evans met the multi-talented mother of two to celebrate the launch of Kimba Kids.
What’s the inspiration behind Kimba Kids?
Let me go back to the start. So my brother is the managing director of a company that make, design, manufacture, and distribute clothes so obviously I knew that I had a lead in to this and with Bobby, my oldest son I just found it really boring buying boys’ clothes. I really wanted a little boy, so it’s not like I’m one of these women who wanted a girl to dress up, it wasn’t that, I just felt they don’t suit him, there’s all this nautical stuff like everywhere, which is fine, but it’s a bit preppy-ish and felt like he’s a blonde, blue-eyed mixed-race little boy and felt like I actually want him to be able to express himself a bit more and wear things that are a bit more fun and colourful and that’s where it came from.
So I approached my brother and was like, “How do you feel about trying to launch a new brand with me so that we can use all your facilities to do so. And he was actually really up for it. As much as his job is so intense and full-on as he’s distributing to Next, ASOS, constantly meeting deadlines, I think this was more of a passion project for him. It’s been hard for him because there aren’t enough hours in the day but we’ve done it. It’s taken a while…we fully started it when Bobby was about 16 months and I was doing Elf at The Dominion over Christmas and because it was my first job back, I had a bit of time to actually think for myself again. There were times when I wasn’t on stage where I was able to start the design process and I would meet the designer between shows on the two show days.
So it has taken a long time to get it to this point – he’s nearly four now! I thought you just hand-picked designs from a rail and Adam was like no, we need to design them, we need to draw it and come up with every colour, fabric. One day we literally spent the entire day going through thicknesses, choosing colours, and I asked him, is this your life? And he was like, yeah, pretty much. We do have to do this every time. It’s interesting as I had absolutely no idea it would be so time consuming.
Perhaps there are other sides to the business you prefer?
Exactly, I prefer the design and can you send me a sample back? But it’s not that easy. I feel like we’ve found a good place now, where we both feel like we know what the brand is, I’m very sure of what I want it to be. He’ll sometimes throw something in like What about trying this? And I’m like no, it’s not me. I wouldn’t put my kids in it – it may be popular at the moment, but I just want to stay true to what I am and the design process will be easy. If I take it on a tangent that’s following something else, it’s always going to be hard to bring it back to what it’s supposed to be in the beginning.
Because of the fashion connection through your brother did you ever consider doing womenswear?
Well that’s something we’re talking about now because we can. There’s so many opportunities there because of the way I work with his company. Right now, the priority is getting Kimba Kids off the ground and hoping that we can make this work. We’ve already got our Spring/Summer in for sampling and that was really fun and exciting and doing it now that we’ve got to this point. So we’d need the time – this has become over the last 6 months like a full time job and it’s one of those that you can sort of do with the kids around but there are times when I’m like I just need to answer some emails when they’re not like screaming at me or something. There are certain things that you have to do so that they go to bed but you can do it around the kids which is why it’s brilliant. I have taken the kids into meetings before because it’s my brother but mine cause a lot more…there’s picnic mess all over the floor, or like rails and clothes boxes barricading the stairs so they can’t fall down. This is not ideal but if childcare lets you down which is what happened to me, we’ll just bring them. My brother was like, yes, it’ll be good to have their input. They’ll be interested for about 5 minutes and then he’ll be like where’s the guns or weapons I can play with?
So what are your favourite pieces?
For me, my favourite piece for the boys.. As we knew this was going into Autumn/Winter we wanted to do a slightly different tone so we’ve got an aubergine tone camo. And for the girls I love the twinset.
What are your hopes for the brand?
It’s really crazy at the moment because no one really knows what’s going to happen at this point. It has been a family passion project. It’s hard because we both care about it so much so obviously we really want it to do well. I’m realistic. I don’t know how this business works so obviously the fact that Next have endorsed it as big as they have gives us hope that it will work because I don’t think they’d take huge numbers of something that wouldn’t work.
Your brother presumably was able to advise?
He would know to a point, but they would know more because they sell kids wear every day and he does adult stuff. They were very excited about it. We went to them first as we felt that it was a fit for their stuff and I do still think it sits really well with all of their stuff. But they have gone above and beyond – they’ve had opinions on stuff that really helped us, little branding things, they wanted it to be branded because they said if people are buying into you, they want to know that it’s yours. You’ve got to offer something that isn’t already there, which we know. So we feel like together, we’ve got it to this point and now we want to see it on other children and know that people have actually chosen to buy it themselves. That’ll be so exciting – we’ll have to get everybody to send pictures into me.
How would you describe your parenting style?
Manic! I’m such a calm person. I genuinely think I’m one of the most chilled people. But my boys can drive me to places that I never thought were possible. And it frustrates me if I feel like I’ve lost it, that’s just not me. But sometimes at bedtime, the way that they taunt me, I’m like “you just want me to break so that you can laugh at me”, but I can’t cope! I try to be relaxed. I’m very loving, which I’m sure most mums are, but I feel like they do respond to that. I’m terrified of the day my boys don’t want to get in bed and cuddle me in the morning. Its my favourite time of the day. My brother who I’m doing this with still gives my mum a cuddle – it’s quite cute. I’m not going to lie, they’re really hard work at the ages that they are, they do not stop, they don’t sit still for five seconds. And I wonder which one I should protect. Bobby’s older and he’ll go and do something where he could hurt himself. If I’m at a park who do I protect because he’ll go and climb a climbing frame where he’s in full danger if he falls from it, but then Cole is tiny so I an’t leave his side so usually I’m like Stop! Grab Cole and try to help Bobby down the clmbing frame down. I feel like a lot of the time I look at myself in day to day situations and think what would anybody think if they could see me now, but is that just parenting of two young boys?
What advice would you pass on to a new mum?
Don’t put pressure on yourself. Every mum thinks they have to be the perfect parent and everthing should be as the books say it should be. You cannot ever read something and be that person because every child is so different. Even seeing what my two boys are like – Bobby was so chilled out I could have gone to a hygienist appointment and he would have just sat in his pushchair and just watched. Cole would have just screamed blue murder, it just wouldn’t happen so already they have the personaliies so you have to adapt to them. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect because I don’t hitnk any of us are. We all lose our [shit] every so often don’t we.
Three words to describe yourself
Relaxed – all good things of course – warm and tired. Always tired.
Last book you read
I don’t read, there’s no time in my life for reading but I did read Giovanna Fletcher’s baby book ages ago. Weirdly because it was so relevant to me I actually really enjoyed it. I was reading it and thinking I’m reading about my own life, but there’s some comfort in it, that’s why she’s so popular, because she’s so honest. All the breastfeeding stuff you know I had a really hard time of it as well. Nobody tells you, even my own sister never really talked about it very much. I didn’t get that at all. But she was like I think I was so terrified that was almost…I think that the more we talk about it the better. You think that they’re supposed to latch on and it’s all lovely. I’ve never felt pain like it. Obviously it is a nice thing, it’s a labour of love.
Tell us one thing nobody knows about you.
I used to make my own clothes and sell them to my friends. My mum used to make clothes all the time, the sewing machine was always going. In the 80s with four kids it was tough financially so she made a lot of our own stuff. So I started making wrap around skirts, palazzo pants and scrunchies and people started putting orders in on our estate. I used to put the scrunchies on a big tube and take them to school and sell them. I was a right Del Boy even then!
I’m not good at inventing my own things, but I am good at making something taste the way it’s supposed to taste. There’s a really nice Thai coconut sea bass recipe in one of the Leon books, which is really easy. You can prepare it earlier, put in the parcel and then they cook in 15 minutes and it looks like a really well thought out meal.
Who inspires you?
It’s a cheesy thing to say but my mum really does. I’ve got a new found respect for her since having children and trying to work with the kids. She had four and she was on her own because my parents split up when I was young. She always worked full time, she always did extra things after school like piano lessons for people to make extra money. I don’t know how she did all of that with the addition of financial worry and no partner to support her. So when I get stressed or think that life’s getting a bit tough I think, “ come on, think about what it was like for your mum, it was so much harder for her and she’s like happy now, we’re all happy and she’s getting the payback through us now I suppose. I think of her as a role model when I start to get a bit delusional as to what’s going on in life.
What’s next on your list of things to do?
I do do a lot of different things. I’ve been really lucky, I even got to do Strictly. There’s nothing really left that I desperately want to do. To be honest, if Kimba Kids works the way we hope it will it will be a much bigger focus for me over the next year because I’ll need to go full throttle if it works ans stuff. We’ve loads of ideas for interim things we can do around Christmas which all takes time and thought.
What are your memories of school?
I actually liked school from a social point of view. I was never sporty so I hated that side of things. I’d always find a way to get out of cross country. Generally I was lucky to be academic enough to get through without working too hard but I was never way up there. Because I was relatively clever but not expected to do amazingly well, I think you can enjoy school a bit more. You get grades that people are happy with, but you can also socialise without feeling too much pressure.
Memories of school dinners
We had really good school dinners. I always remember my middle school dinners were really good. They always did the best puddings, proper northern puddings like cornflake tart – a suet pastry base with jam and cornflake and treacle – and jam roly poly. Everyone who went to my school still talks about it.
What would you take to a desert island?
My kids, although it would be tempting not to! I can’t actually bare to be away from them for too long so they’d have to come, for help with the childcare. Music because I could keep them entertained and I can’t not be around music, so some sort of music system. And alcohol to get me through.
When it’s freezing cold outside it’s time to start thinking about holidays and jetting off to warmer climes. And until then, to surround yourself with warm, bright palates which whisk you to your future destination. CMYK Living’s opening collection tells the story of India inspired by hand block printing using vibrant colours, icons and imagery that symbolises the sub-continent. Cushion covers, duvet and pillow cases, quilts and sheets for children will brighten up any room, and with a baby collection to include wraps, blankets and cot sheets coming soon, CMYK Living are bringing the sunshine to us.
We all love to look good, and we want our kids to be well dressed, but whilst the price of fashion can often be a bargain for our wallets the cost to the planet is far from cheap. However, research shows that even the greenest of green people find it tough to economically clothe themselves and their families in a totally ethical way. I’m not here to slap your wrists for occasionally buying baskets of fast fashion. Rather this is a guide to help us all shop a little greener, buy with a conscience and discover the high street or online good guys.
I contacted some old friends and asked these eco activist mums how they clothed their kids and these are the ideas they shared.
BASIC GREEN FASHION PRINCIPLES
The eco kids wear story is currently mostly about looking for 100% certified organic cotton and fair trade made, but there are a few other things to think about.
Good quality fabrics and strong stitching – So many ecomums say that when buying new it’s worth buying from brands like Boden, as they stand the test of time. Look for organic cotton, and the new cellulosics like tencel and lyocell. Try to buy monomaterial clothes – all made from the same fibre rather than a mix of fibre types (e.g. cotton with polyester), for easier recycling at end of life.
Colours and material finishes – no patent leather shoes or fluorescent colours, which are very toxic! Darker colours mean more dyestuff has been used and that’s not good for the environment. Go for prints – they hide the dirt and stains and don’t have to be washed so often.
Multifunctional garments – trouser legs that zip off, garments that can be worn inside out.
Sewing – look for good hem allowances on clothes so they can be altered, and items that come with spare buttons and repair patches.
GOING GREEN ON THE HIGH STREET
Many brands are now signing up to be greener producers of kids’ clothes – to varying degrees. Right now there are a few that are doing just that little bit more, so it might be worth rewarding them with your custom.
Cheap to Mid Range
In Sweden H&M has long been considered a very good choice for babywear. They were amongst the first to use organic cotton and non-toxic dyes in their ranges, and have recently won awards for their ‘Conscious Commitments’. Look for the green labels in store that show items are part of the Conscious Collection range – I think their recycled polyester stuff is particularly good.
In the UK it’s M&S that comes out top in my poll. Their Plan A work is considered world leading, and the company is dedicated to making a holistic swathe of improvements across their product ranges. (You might feel a bit bored by the design from time to time – but I have inside knowledge that a new designer there is shaking it up a bit, so keep an eye out for the new range!)
Next is another ‘good guy’ – I visited one of their factories in China last year and was really impressed with the conditions and quality (and food – I had lunch in their workers canteen!). Finally, I am currently avoiding the brands that haven’t signed up to the Bangladesh Safety Accord like Gap (who have implemented their own system of standards). More than 170 brands have signed so there are plenty to choose from, including Debenhams, Fat Face and Mothercare.
Mid to High End
Head to Zone 1. Peter Jones or John Lewis – I love their democratic staff policy, who doesn’t? – are increasingly investing in sustainable fashion, so I always head first for People Tree and Polarn O. Pyret. If you want something more upmarket, then Stella McCartney has been working for a long time on the fabrics for her kids line – the organic cotton jersey and wovens are gorgeous, and her packaging is all recycled and recyclable – it all counts!
I would consider the most special upmarket clothes to be bespoke and made especially for you, and for this I recommend Sasti in Portobello. Rosie makes to order, and has the most edgy and fun designs. I really believe UK handmade, in second hand vintage fabrics, is worth saving up for, and may give you a richness of user experience you don’t get with the regular brands.
GREEN ONLINE SHOPPING
By far the biggest selection of green kids clothes can be found on the internet. The small labels are generally able to have greater control over their supply chains – working with smaller producers who offer better conditions to workers for instance. You may pay a bit more here, but consider it an investment. The more small green companies there are, the more the big companies will feel the competition and adopt better practices to try to attract the green pound. These small lines mostly focus on fabrics like organic cotton and fair labour conditions – not unlike the high street brands – but they also produce smaller runs of quirky, unusual designs, and you will be supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses as well.
Our cover features clothes made by Swedish brand Mini Rodini, available in Selfridges and online, which holds sustainability, the environment and fair labour at the heart of its core values (minirodini.com). The Fableists is an uber-cool brand, which is chemical and sweatshop labour free – they use 100% organic cotton and their factories are either Fair Wear or Fair Trade. They set up the label to ‘stop the cycle of kids making clothes for other kids’, as they put it (thefableists.com). Frugi clothes are really fun, well made, and designed to last a long time (welovefrugi.com). A Chelsea textile graduate set up Little Green Radicals and as you would expect the fabrics are gorgeous. They even sell real nappies, and are working with Ecotricity, a green energy provider (littlegreenradicals.co.uk). Eternal Creation has a great transparent ethical story – made in the Indian Himalayas – and beautiful clothes to boot, especially their animal print shirts (eternalcreation.com). For school uniform Eco Outfitters are trying really hard to offer a range of well-priced basics (ecooutfitters.co.uk). Ask your school if they have heard of them.
BEFORE YOU SHOP, WORK THOSE BAGS
When you are planning a shopping trip take an hour to double-check what you already have. My ecomums all work a system of hand me downs – and the more organised they were about this, the better it was for the planet. So developing a five-bag system is the key first step:
1. Best Friend Bag.
In here put the nicest hand me downs. If you have a friend who gives you stuff, have a look at what they have given you recently. There is often a bigger anorak or pair of wellies lurking that I had forgotten about – and I end up being able to cross that item off the list.
2. Shwopping Bag.
When you have given away the best stuff to a friend, save a bag for the shwopp! TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK have led the way, running their joint clothing collection campaign since 2004. Give Up Clothes for Good has raised £17.6 million, with £13.1 million funding ground-breaking research into childhood cancers. M&S has recently teamed up with Oxfam, aiming to reduce the volume of clothes thrown into landfill and its environmental impact while supporting Oxfam’s many campaigns.
3. School Fair Bag. Especially good for uniforms, and great for passing on toys and books.
4. Charity Bag.
Avoid chucking any clothes in the bin – no matter how stained and tatty they are your local charity shop can benefit from your donation. Clothes that are not fit for wearing will be sold on to industry as ‘wiping rags’ or to be made into shoddy (a kind of industrial felt material). Bundle shoes together with an elastic band (essential tip!)
5. Mending/Making Bag.
If you or your kids love craft, this bag can be used for projects (old tights for stuffed toys especially good), and mending other clothes with nice fabric patches.
Chiswick-based mum of two Rebecca Earley is Professor of Sustainable Textiles and Fashion at the University of the Arts London, and Director of the Textile Futures Research Centre. She trained in fashion at Central Saint Martin’s and has taught textile designers at Chelsea College of Arts for nearly twenty years. She currently advises design teams in fashion companies in Sweden, Denmark, USA and the UK about how to design lower impact, longer lasting clothing.