The cold weather is drawing in now and so is the need for waterproof and warm coats. If you are needing a new coat for your little ones we have scoured the best of the design-led brands to save you the time and effort. Our designer's picks features brands that are premium quality and have good eco credentials too. Having just bought the Boy Wonder a Mini Rodini coat (second-hand) and having previously had a Polarn O Pyret one too, I can personally vouch for their high quality.
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As most of you will know, our debut collection launched a few weeks ago on Kickstarter but sadly, had to be cancelled due to lack of pledges.
It was very clear, even from day one, that we were unlikely to reach the target, which would not have looked to good to any future prospective investors. So, I felt it would be less damaging to the brand to cancel it, than let it run it's course. The campaign was a test of the market and should have been proof of a good concept, but it showed that something was clearly not right. The vast majority of pledges were from friends and family, which of course we are very appreciative of, but don't go to show there is a wider market for our products. Most pledges were also for low amounts suggesting people weren't prepared to spend too much.
The launch was a culmination of a dream, and of course years of research, hard work and significant financial investment, so it was extremely disappointing. However, I have learnt a lot from it and hope to still be able to move on somehow. The brand and collection themselves have been really well received and since promoting it our mailing list subscribers have increased by 25% and our Instagram followers by 16%. So, I still firmly believe that they are strong products and that there is a demand for them.
Having done further research and sought advice from industry experts, as well as feedback from our followers on social media, it is clear that the prices were the main problem. If the costs I was paying to have the garments made had been lower giving me a higher mark-up, I would have been able to have offered special early bird discounts, bundled gift packs, and other incentives to backers that I couldn't do with the costs I had. I naively hoped that being able to pre-order the garments before they were available through the retail site would have been tempting enough.
Ethical and sustainable products, such as ours, will always command higher prices as workers are paid fairly and the highest quality materials used. Despite difficult times in the retail industry the ethical market is rapidly increasing, so I felt confident that we would find customers. But perhaps I was pitching the product too high in aiming for designer level? I must add here that this was not the reason for the high prices, rather that my costs dictated the prices and therefore the high market level.
Having gained over 34,000 unique readers on this blogsite (thanks everyone!) which currently equates to over 2,500 visitors a month, I was expecting much more of a turn-out with the campaign as this is my main audience. However, having looked at the analytics, I can see that I didn't advertise the campaign well enough and sadly it didn't get as much press attention as I had would have liked. As I am being to realise all too well, PR, marketing and social media management are jobs in themselves, which as a I am running this show single-handedly is maybe just too much. I was also unsure of how much of the product to reveal before launch which may not have helped, so it is much easier now to market the product in all it's glory, rather than a concept that people have to imagine.
Some people have suggested that I wasn't running the campaign for long enough, though actually this wouldn't have made any difference in reaching the target anyway for the reasons stated above. According to Kickstarter statistics, successful campaigns get a lot of pledges in the first couple of days as the buzz drives visitors to the site, then the pledges will dip right down in the middle of the campaign and pick up again at the end as people rush to pledge before it finishes. Their statistics also show that a "shorter duration better positions a project for success", so with that in mind I also had to consider being able to deliver the duffle coats within the best selling period of 'back to school' in September which within the long production schedule didn't give me any longer than two weeks to run the campaign.
So, what's next? I am determined not to give up and to relaunch again soon, with an aim to be delivering in time for Christmas. I am currently negotiating with new manufacturers and working to bring my costs down further in the hope of being able to provide lower price points. The campaign did show which products people were most interested in, namely the t-shirts, which is what I will focus on for relaunch. (I am even considering adding in a new Christmas print) I am also looking into involving outside agencies to help me with PR and marketing too as I know now that I cannot do it all!
So please stick with us and sign up to our mailing list so you can be the first to know when pre-orders will be available again. And thanks again for all your support and feedback x
You might have noticed that we have named the styles in our launch collection after some amazing people. We really wanted to honour them for all they have done in service to the planet and animals big and small.
They can all be pre-ordered on our crowdfund page here.
Caroline Lucas is a member of parliament for the Green Party, who has campaigned and worked tirelessly to help protect the environment and highlight climate change. She also writes about green economics, localism and animal welfare amongst other subjects. In 2008 she was listed in The Guardian as 'one of 50 people who could save the planet'. She has previously worked for the RSPCA, CND and Oxfam.
Greta Thunberg is the 16 year old Swedish schoolgirl who has brought the shocking truth about climate change and the lack of response to it to the world. Her solitary school strikes inspired million of other children around the globe and shamed politicians and decision makers alike. Her powerful speeches and non nonsense approach galvanized us to start marching and taking action for the climate.
Jane Goodall is a world expert on chimpanzees. She has worked on many animal welfare and conservation issues. She has been a board member of Nonanimal Human Rights Project since it started and is vocal about factory farming and animal transportation amongst many other issues. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute who work to protect chimpanzees and their habitats.
Chris Packham is a broadcaster and naturalist whose TV show 'The Really Wild Show' is a strong memory from my childhood. He has campaigned for and works with many wildlife conservation groups and is a strong oppose of fox hunting, badger culling and hen harrier persecution.
Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as being a famous film star, is identified as one of the most active celebrities in the climate change movement. In 1998 he set up the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to promote environmental awareness. He has also been an active supporter of many environmental organisations. He backed the documentary Cowspiracy which enabled it to get released on Netflix. He also executive -produced and starred in Before the Flood, which documented the various issues with climate change.
Al Gore, vice president to Bill Clinton is a long time environmentalist most famous for his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. He held the first congressional hearings on climate change back in 1976 and was one of the strongest advocates of the Kyoto Protocol back in the 90's. He founded The Alliance for Climate Protection and has even attempted to persuade Donald Trump that climate change is real!
Sir David Attenborough needs no introduction as Britain's best loved natural historian and broadcaster. He has brought the lives of many amazing animals into our living rooms and he is the president of various conservation charities. In recent years he has become a more vocal supporter of environmental causes and his climate change documentary and speeches are taken seriously by people across the political spectrum.
Here is a snapshot of the Boy Wonder launch collection that is now available on Kickstarter.
This crowdfund campaign will run for 2 weeks only. Further orders will not be taken until the retail website is up and running in September/October. The set up of this is of course dependant on gaining enough pre-orders to make production and website investment viable. So don't miss out!
(sorry, I hate this salesy talk too but I've come this far so I have to try and sell it now!)
Click HERE to see the whole collection and pre-order now.
So it's finally here after years of work! I really hope everyone likes it as I have put so much into it. I am pretty pleased with it and am eager to get designing again now. There have been so many problems along the way and sometimes it felt impossible to achieve but I have also really enjoyed creating it all. I do feel a real sense of achievement because I have also done it on my own without a business or life partner. So although I've had advice from friends, family and business associates, all the decisions had to be made by me alone. I am hoping I made the right decisions and will have lots of lovely backers giving me good reason to crack open the bubbly next Sunday and celebrate my baby 'Boy Wonder' going out into the world.
We will be launching the Boy Wonder collection on Kickstarter for pre-orders before the retail site is launched in September. Please save the date!
SUNDAY 30TH JUNE
at 11AM BST
This will be the first chance to see the collection in full and see the video of the Boy Wonder story.
The cross-seasonal collection for 5-10 year olds comprises of duffle coats; a British design classic, hard wearing raw denim, practical cotton drill trousers and comfy jersey-wear to cover all the needs of a busy child's wardrobe. The garments feature bright, hand-drawn prints with a quirky British twist and follow circular design principles with in-built room for growth and care and repair products & guides.
If you want to be kept up to date with launch details and exclusive content including livesteam video of the collection please sign up to our VIP mailing list. This is early bird access to see the garments in detail and hear all about them before anyone else does. You can sign up on the contact page, on site pop up box or link above. Then follow us on Instagram and direct message me so I can add you to the VIP list. More details on this will follow very soon.
I will also be available on Twitter for a live Q&A on the collection from 8pm BST. Please join me to tell me what you think.
Click on the links above to follow us on social media and keep up to date with all the latest news.
As I have been preparing for our launch collection photoshoot I have been sourcing ethical and sustainable kids accessories to style the outfits with. Here are some of the best I have found in summer brights and hot styles. Hope you like them! x
#kidsethicalfashion #kidsaccessories #kidsstyling
There seem to be more and more ethical kids fashion brands appearing all the time. Even high street stores are getting in on the act with organic or sustainable cotton ranges. While this it is good to see, how do you know if they are as good as they say? If you are unsure you can always do a little research on their website to see how they back up their claims. If they have recognisable certifications such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), Oekotex or Fairtrade then there will have been rigorous checks & testing done on environmental and social aspects.
If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I love Scandi kids brands, and Mini Rodini is my most favourite. Founded by illustrator Cassandra Rodini, their print designs are fun and often quirky. The garments although expensive are long lasting as the Boy Wonder can attest to. They have a living wage project and are a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. Most of their collections are made from GOTS Organic cloth and tested by Oekotex. They also use recycled polyester, ocean waste and upcycled cloth in some of their products too. Mini Rodini’s range is quite extensive and includes backpacks, denim and even bedding. Their age range is birth to 10 years.
This is another great scandi brand with amazing prints that have a retro feel. They use GOTS Organic jersey fabrics that are all bright and comfy. Their oeko-tex certification means there are no nasty chemicals in the clothes while also ensuring good working conditions for the people who produce them. As well as the usual jersey items they also do wellies, raincoats and swimwear. Their range starts at birth up to 12 years.
Boys & Girls
This British brand is unisex and also uses GOTS organic cotton. This means that aside from not being grown with nasty chemicals, the workers will have been paid a fair price for it too and have better working conditions. Their printing and dying is organic and water based too again avoiding chemicals. Their range of garments are in jersey fabrics and start at 6 months up to 6 years.
Tootsa is a British award winning unisex brand who make clothes for baby up to age 10. All their cotton knitwear is 100% GOTS certified. They work with SEDEX (Suppliers Ethical Data Exchange) factories. The garments are designed to last longer with longer legs and sleeves that can be rolled up or down. They also provide a repair service by sending out buttons, trims & patches and even zips if their worn garments need it. You can also recycle your old Tootsa clothes with them by sending them back in exchange for a discount and the proceeds go to a hospice charity. Their packaging is also made from 100% recycled materials.
Frugi use GOTS Organic cotton and are audited by Soil Association providing ethical and environmental credentials. Their designs are colourful, comfy and fun and loved by parents and kids alike. The designs are often reversible making them versatile and are designed to last. Their outerwear including pramsuits are all made from recycled bottles and their packaging is biodegradable. As well as the kids clothing (babies to age 10) they also have a maternity and homeware ranges. They are very charitable too, donating 1% of their turnover to charities, including; the Cornwall Wildlife trust and community and children’s charities.
And not to forget…
Little Green Radicals
Who are your favourite ethical kids brands? Let us know, we would love to hear from you x
#ethicalkidsbrands #ethicalkidsfashion #ethicalkidsclothes
Spring Ethical Fashion Edit
Spring is on it's way, bringing with it April showers and unpredictable British weather. So, here are our top picks of sustainable kids rainwear that will make you and your child smile and feel good on even the greyest of days.
I would have loved to have added some eco kids brollies here too but haven't been able to find any. Please let me know if come across any x
Winter is coming and if it's anything like last winter you'll need to wrap up warm! Here is our selection of the best kids knitwear to keep your little wonders toasty.
#knitwear #kidsknits #scandiknits
I love autumn. It's such a beautiful season with the leaves changing colour and a time to get cosy with warm jumpers and blazing fires. Here is my pick of the best tops for this season from eco-minded brands . Hope you like them x
Reversible Bambi hoody in eco-friendly 100% baby alpaca by Oeuf NYC
Sunny Season Sweatshirt in 100% GOTS organic cotton by Nadadelazos
Owl Sweatshirt in 100% GOTS organic cotton by Boys & Girls
Wild duck sweatshirt in 100% GOTS organic cotton by Mini Rodini
#autumnfashion #boysfashion #organiccotton
The summer holidays are nearly here so check out my pick of the sunniest stuff to dress your little wonders in. With bright prints of ice lollies, shades and seaside donkeys they'll be happy even if the sun isn't shining. Hover over the images to see where they are from and click through to their websites to buy. All in super soft organic cotton and so will be kind to their skin and the planet too.
#kidsfashion #fashionkids #trendykids
Spring is here at last! Here is our round up of Easter fashion to celebrate, with bunnies abound.
Happy Easter everyone x
#easterfashion #kidsclothes #organiccotton
It's 100 years ago since women got the vote in the UK. Activism is growing in different areas as people are still fighting for hard won rights and it's exciting to see this expressed in some great kid's fashion brands. Here is a celebration of the power of fashion to change things for the better.
W.I.M.A.M.P. (Worldwide Inventive Minds against Monsters of Pollution) is a not for profit collection by Bobo Choses that features drawings from children around the world about how to stop sea pollution. $25,000 dollars are to be donated by Bobo Choses to an NGO Ocean Conservancy to support ocean conservation through this social project.
#votesforwomen #fashionactivism #feminism
It's that magical time of year again when we don our cheesy jumpers! But maybe this year try something different for your kids. This carefully selected edit has ethical or sustainable credentials that will make you feel good amidst the rampant consumerism and gluttony that is Christmas! They are also the antidote to the riot of colour the supermarkets have to offer, with a more subtle and sophisticated style and palette. Hope you like them :-)
Tobias & the Bear
Organic cotton and Made in Britain
T-shirt with Santa Reindeer
GOTS Organic cotton
Polarn O. Pyret
Swedish Folklore Kids Pyjamas
GOTS Organic Cotton
Frank and Nora
GOTS Organic Cotton
Orla + Fred
Hand knitted in Britain
#Christmasfashion #organiccotton #madeinbritain #ethicalfashion
I am aware that the Boy Wonder name could be wrongly seen to be reinforcing gender stereotypes so I wanted to write about my position on this subject.
My son watched the BBC's documentary 'No More Boys & Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?' with me and was incredulous at the suggestion that girls were not as good as boys and that boys can't express their emotions. While this made me feel that I am possibly getting something right as a parent, I am also aware he's not your average 'boy's boy'. For example some of the books he has recently enjoyed are 'My Adorable Kitten' & 'The Boy in the Dress'! I have always tried to encourage these traits, which are seen to be more feminine, as a way to counteract any overtly male stereotypes he may be exposed to.
However, I do worry that he could face some ridicule for his softer side by his peers as he gets older. In my opinion, gentler sensibilities in boys should be nurtured to create loving and empathic adults and how we treat and dress our children is all part and parcel of this. I do want my boy to grow up believing in himself, but also believing in others equally too, regardless of gender.
'Let Clothes be Clothes' are a campaign group challenging gender disparity in clothing. They highlight the many products in stores such as Asda, Gap, Tesco & Mothercare that are not gender equal. So I believe John Lewis's decision to remove gender specific labelling from their own brand clothes is a big step in the right direction. 'Girl' and 'Boy' sections are being removed from their stores and they have also launched a gender neutral range. Hopefully other major retailers will follow their lead.
The Boy Wonder brand was created to offer more choice to parents of boys amongst the vast array of girlswear. For me, the brand is not about defining gender, but celebrating individuality because every boy is different! The collections will not have the stereotypical 'boy' colours of black, navy and brown nor will they be covered in tractors, dinosaurs or cars. The garments will be unisex in style and shape and will look equally as good on girls as boys. I want to see more boys wearing bright colours including pink (which needs to be reclaimed from the princess squad!) and not looking like mini men but the beautiful children that they are. I hope you will join me in helping this happen!
Some of the brands that I love to champion on social media are gender neutral and all the better for it. My pick of the best are shown below.
#unisex #genderneutral #boyslovepink
A special, spook-tacular fashion edit for Halloween! These creepy clothes will look frighteningly fab on your little ones and are far more sustainable and ethical than cheap costumes from the supermarket.
Bats sweatshirt by Mini Rodini
in GOTS organic cotton and made by workers
that are paid a living wage.
Halloween tee by Småfolk
in GOTS organic & Oeko-tex certified cotton
Wilbur's web romper and super batty leggings by Tobias & the Bear
Made in the UK with organic Oeko-tex certified cotton
Ashton grey knit ghost jumper
by Stella McCartney
in an organic cotton and wool blend
It is London Fashion Week this week so I find my eye drawn to lavish images of beautiful skinny white women appearing online and in the press. Now we all know this is not representative of us mere mortals and is nowhere near showing the wonderful ethnic diversity of Britain either. There have been some inroads on the catwalks in recent years to use black and Asian models but we need to see more and of all different shapes and ages too. As adults we can shrug this off with a jaded cynicism about what sells papers etc etc. But how does it affect our kids who are less savvy about the world?
My son isn't interested in fashion magazines so is little affected by glossy airbrushing and impossible waistlines but he is part of the younger generation that is exposed to social media as we never were. This frightens me. A lot. I use social media for the business and it is invaluable for that, but I notice how much people’s lives online are edited to unreality. (I am guilty of this too, so I hold my hands up to it!) But looking at people's feeds I sometimes wonder how I can ever live up to their happy, fun and glamourous lives. I am aware that people only project what they want us to see but I believe this plays into our insecurities as we think we are somehow not as good (or maybe that's just me!)
Many teenagers now judge their popularity on how many 'friends' or followers they have on their social media channels, how many likes their posts get and so on. How much do these ideas of popularity and perfection effect things like body image and well-being? According to the UK charity Beat, eating disorders are on the rise and have risen 34% since 2005. 6.4% of adults in the UK are now diagnosed as having an eating disorder and 25% of those are male. Shockingly, as young as just 6 years old.
To give social media it's due, there are some people out there in the online space challenging these ideas. Some models are now posting alternative photos to show their wobbly bits etc., which is just amazing! The make-up free selfie has also gone viral showing us all that beauty is often just smoke and mirrors. These platforms are helping to change the face of fashion itself and get more diversity and individuality on the catwalks and in the press. It gives us power to shout about what we do and don't like so the big fashion houses, high street brands and magazines now have to listen or suffer the indignity of losing credibility.
To me fashion is about self expression, personality and individuality that should be celebrated and never judged. We are not all the same, we all have bits we don’t like but we are all deserve to be happy. This is what I would wish for my son and to all of you out there.
#Fashion #Beat #SelfImage
As the Boy Wonder is getting older (he is now 7 and a half, I don't quite know how that happened!) and more exposed to the wider world around him I begin to consider how much to make him aware of. As a mother my instinct would often be to protect him from the nastier side of life, but having lost his dad at a young age I know this isn't realistic. With so many terror attacks happening all around us these days, I imagine many of us are struggling to know what to tell our kids in order to explain such things while not frightening them. I have the same quandary in some ways with what I tell my son about fast fashion and my work in fighting against it.
Many of us mums have probably said to our kids when they won't eat their dinner that there are starving children in Africa, but how much of that can they really understand? I know I didn't when my mum said it to me as a kid and I would tell her to post it to them! So, maybe that distance and separation will help me to protect him a little from the worst horrors of my industry, but it could also make it very unreal to him.
Having been brought up a vegetarian the Boy Wonder is maybe more aware than some on ethics in regard to animals so maybe this is a start. As a middle class, white boy growing up in the western world I want him to be fully aware of his privilege and to know there are many others less fortunate. Therefore, I believe that openness and honesty is the only way to stimulate empathy and understanding in him while maybe steering clear of the more gruesome and complicated areas.
So, how could I explore ethical fashion and yet engage my son? I have come up with a few ideas for this based on the Fashion Revolution course I recently did.
1) Be curious: Firstly kids are naturally curious, so getting them to investigate like a detective will become a fun task. Getting them to find out about their own clothes - maybe the ones they are wearing or a favourite of theirs? Looking at the labels to find out where they are made, and what they are made out of is a great start. Which country are most of their clothes made in? How many are made from polyester? Asking in shops where the clothes are made or whether they have organic cotton.
2) Find out: Then delving deeper into finding out who could have made them, what the countries are like where they live and where the raw materials come from. The difficult part is making it real to children, for example, finding out that a child the same age as them could have made their clothes makes more of a connection to them. What can they find out about the materials used and their impact? Researching, imagining and maybe drawing the journey their clothes have taken to get to them will make them aware of the resources and carbon footprint involved in the fashion industry. How many miles has it travelled? How many litres of water used in production? How much pesticides and their affect? Your local library, school and of course the internet will have all sorts of resources.
3) Do something: The concluding part could be to work out how to change the way you shop together for clothes. They could try out different ways to make our clothes last longer by repairing, revamping, reusing or swapping them with friends. Look at donating and also buying from second hand shops or finding out what clothes you can buy locally? Maybe even considering hiring clothes for a special occasion and explaining the reasons why all these things matter in relation to what you found in your investigations.
Obviously this has to be age appropriate and younger kids would need more hands on help with it. Don't forget to ask your kids their thoughts and ideas at every stage, you will often be surprised by their insight or practical ideas. By the age of 7 most kids already have a fixed idea of the world, however these ideas can be challenged and changed. So for me and the Boy Wonder that time is now!
#FashionRevolution #EthicalFashion #WonderKids
Wake up to Child Labour
Who Made my Jeans? Pt1
Who Made my Jeans? Pt2
As I am hoping to include the most classic of coat shapes, the dapper duffle, in my launch collection I thought you might like a potted history of Paddington's favourite attire.
A long frock hooded coat with toggles is seen in the Polish military in the 1820's which may have influenced the design of British classic. In 1887 John Partridge, an outwear specialist, designed and sold a toggle closure overcoat. This looked somewhat different to the ones we know today as it was shorter and roomier but had the characteristic toggle fastenings. A few years later this was adapted by the British Navy to protect their servicemen against the inclement weather at sea. They were then worn on military ships all round the world.
At this point the duffle was a large one-size-fits-all so that one could be worn by any sailor over other clothing and also have the maneuverability needed for ship work. The toggle closures were used to make the coat easy to fasten with cold, wet or gloved hands. The two piece hood was cut loose to pull over a woolly hat or cap and the cloth used was generally a heavy course wool which was water repellent.
It became most popular during world war 2 thanks to General Montgomery, allied commander of the British forces, who created a signature look worn with a beret at a jaunty angle - hence it's pet name the 'Monty', As the coat saw more service at sea, design changes were made to suit the sailors and their working lives. These included shoulder yokes, throat tabs on the front of the hood and a cross over front, thus becoming the style we recognise today.
Army surplus duffel coats and fabric were sold on by the Ministry of Defence in 1951 to wholesalers Harold and Freda Morris who sold them to camping and leisure wear shops. This was such a huge success with the general public that H&M Morris set up the company Gloverall to produce and sell duffle coats alongside other outerwear. Gloverall still make duffle coats today which are loved around the world particularly by the Japanese.
In the 1960's these army surplus duffles were snapped up cheaply by students, artists and intellectuals, most notably the poet Jean Cocteau, and became the staple garment of the counterculture movement. Paddington bear first appeared in the duffle coat in 1958 and it has been a favourite of children ever since.
#DuffleCoat #Monty #Paddington
As I am finalising my designs and collection range ideas I am starting to make decisions on not only how the collection should look and what garments it needs, but also how it will work for the customer (mums) and the consumer (boys).
The look of the collection has evolved (very!) slowly from my design research and mood ideas through to the fabrics I have sourced. I deliberately want the colours to be quite bright to get away from the bland high street colours for boys of navy, brown and grey. The inspiration for the print work in this collection is my childhood. The prints encompass some of the fun, innocence and the nostalgia of childhood with a dash of British eccentricity.
That stage then lead into what types of garments would comprise the collection. The British element comes through again here with classic favourites such as the duffle coat and blazer but added in with that will also be some Scandinavian style knitwear, functional jeans and denim dungarees and quirky printed shirts and jerseywear. At the moment I have ten different shapes in mind with maybe some of those available in different prints and colours. However this is still work in progress and maybe I am setting myself an impossible task I don't know! It may be that I have to cut down the range to keep within budget and what I can realistically manage to achieve.
I want to create a kind of capsule style wardrobe with different garments working alongside each other. Mixing together some casual styles which are practical and comfortable with more formal ones will cover all the bases needed. My experience of being a mum and shopping for the Boy Wonder is that I have to go to different shops to find different types of garments that I like. So the idea of a one stop shop for everything you need appeals to me and hopefully will to others too. I know busy mums have so little time these days that anything that makes their life easier is a real winner. Quality, longevity and durability are designed into the garments which will mean less time spent shopping for new clothes too. I love the idea of being able to suggest outfit and styling ideas to get the very most out of the different garments and that works best with a capsule style collection.
The other main design decision is that it will be a trans-seasonal collection to fulfil my slow fashion ethos. This means that rather than doing the traditional spring/summer and autumn/winter collections I will only design one collection that will cover the whole year. In our mild UK climate this will work as most of our clothes can be worn throughout the year with less or more layers. Those items become more useful in our wardrobes, thereby shrinking our fashion footprint and reducing textile waste.
I am nearly at a stage now where I will be approaching manufacturers with my designs. This will be a massive step for me as at that point it will no longer be a concept but will start to become very real (eek!) Keep reading to find out what happens next!
#CapsuleCollection #Transseasonal #DesignDecisions
Since he started school the Boy Wonder now refers to particular activities or things as being gender specific. 'That's for Girls' is often stated in a derisory manner, much to my dismay! Having lived in Sweden and been influenced by their non-gender based schooling and upbringing, I have been careful to try and foster this attitude in my son but it appears I am thwarted!. In fact in Sweden it is the equality minister who is responsible for pre-school childcare which is seen as the cornerstone in their struggle for gender equality.
So it does make me ask where does this gender stereotyping come from? Has it been picked up from his peer group, is it the British school system, or is it a societal effect? Swedish schools notably also do not have uniforms, like most of Europe. As a busy working mum I do like the practicality of a uniform but wonder what effect they have on gender ideas and individualism. Many gender specific ideas seem to solidify during our school years such as boys playing football and girls playing netball, For example, there is only one girl in Boy Wonder's year group who plays in the school football team - well done her!
This gender conforming I believe also leads to a greater lack of individualism and may contribute to kids picking on anything that is different in their peers - having ginger hair or even long hair like the Boy Wonder's. Boys especially I feel are less allowed to be different to each other. This is very evident in the generic quality of most boy's clothing. Being different, unusual or even a little bit odd is not tolerated by kids as they get older, I know I spent most of my teenage years trying to 'fit in'. So while I want my son to be able to express his individuality through they way he looks and dresses I don't want him to suffer for it.
What I would wish for him, and all kids, is a world where individuality could be something that is celebrated and encouraged especially in early years as kids begin to become aware of their own identity. That boys and girls could know their own worth without it being based on their gender. And at this crucial developmental stage that they are not also influenced into judgements about other people that may lead to prejudice later in life.
The Girl Bias
Boys Can Wear Pink Too!
#Individualism #BoysFashion #LongHairDontCare
One of the main problems I can see with boy's fashion is the distinct lack of it! As a designer and mother of a growing boy I am always striving to find something cool and different to clothe my son in. As I have blogged about previously there are some great brands out there doing boys clothes but in comparison to the amound of girl's fashion it is pitifully small. There are even many brands that only do girlswear and not boys at all. I don't even believe there is a single brand that caters only to boys clothes. Why is this? The fashion industry would most likely say there is not enough demand for it or that boys are like our men so not interested in fashion. I beg to differ and wonder if it is a case of the chicken or the egg? If there is not the choice there then the interest is not piqued. If stylish boys wearing interesting outfits featured more in magazines would we see more boys brands?
I think it is also a cultural thing that as parents or society we like our girls to look pretty and the boys should just have functional clothes as they are always messy and dirty. This bias annoys me as much as it annoys people who don't want to dress their daughters in pink frilly nonsense. It's not just a problem with there not being enough choice of boys fashion, it's also the poor quality and design of those that are available. The licensed characters dominate the high street hangers and their prints are based around gender stereotyped images such as cars, diggers or dinosaurs. The standard offering also only seems to be in a limited range of colours only such as navy, grey and khaki. I do realise the practicalities of this when doing the laundry myself but please, how lovely is it to see boys in something bright and snappy?
The other thing I see on the high street and in magazines more and more now is the 'mini me' trend whereby people dress their kids in smaller versions of their own or more simply in clothes you would see adults wearing. This personally is not my idea of style. To me it just looks wrong seeing a young child in a leather jacket or see through things. Children should be children and be able to express themselves stylistically just as we do and not look like our little clones.
Oh and Happy Christmas to you all!
#BoysClothes #BoysFashion #GirlBias
After my last blog post it got me thinking about what's around on our high streets. We are very lucky in the UK to have some great fashion brands furnishing our town centres, such as M&S as mentioned previously. We have sadly lost some big names recently and during the last decade but most are still fighting the good fight and offer a wide variety of styles to suit most tastes.
Monsoon, established in 1973, is one of these style purveyors that have stood the test of the economic crisis. Their range of children's clothes is high quality and has a quintisentially British feel with a slight bohemian twist. I especially consider their boy's knitwear to be very strong and have enjoyed a few sported by the boy wonder himself. However the boys clothing range as a whole is tiny in comparison to it's female counterpart. This is reflected everywhere in our shops and it's something I will write more on later with some frustration.
Their website states they trade their products ethically and support sustainability through various ways. Their Clothes for Life campaign inspires customers to upcycle by bringing back unwanted Monsoon clothing to store and they will give you a £10 discount voucher off new purchases of £50 or more. These discarded items are either recycled or sold and the profits help support disabled children in the UK. The company also support various ethical fashion projects in the UK and in India including sponsoring London Fashion Week's ESTHETICA showcase for ethical designers.
#MonsoonClothing #Knitwear #BoysFashion #BritishHighStreet
Although I love Scandinavian brands I also want to champion some independent British brands that are thinking about sustainability too. One of these is Tootsamcginty whose garments are ethically made as their suppliers are registered to SEDEX (Suppliers Ethical Data Exchange) This means complete transparency in the supply chain and manufacturing techniques. Their clothes are designed to last longer with longer sleeves and hems and hardwearing fabrics. The materials they use are mostly natural and aren't chemically produced.
Frugi is another British brand who garments are made from organic cotton. One of the many great things about organic cotton is that as it contains no nasty chemicals it is less likely to trigger skin allergies which children can be prone to. Frugi's clothes are all certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and the Soil Association. This means they are also ethically sound by paying their workers guaranteed minimum wages, ensuring safe work environments and not using child labour. Their garments are again made to last with knee patches, strong seams, roll up hems and adjustable waistbands. 1% of their turnover is donated to different charities every year making their social commitment very admirable.
British brand Boys & Girls also make their designs with GOTS certified organic cotton which is also FLO certified - meaning they have paid a fair price for it. They use Fairtrade cotton where they can and hope to have the entire range carrying the Fairtrade mark in the future. Their garments are designed to be practical and comfortable.
Wouldn't it be great if some of these amazing brands were also made in the UK? I would love to see garment manufacturing come back to Britain but I will talk more about that another time! x
#WeLoveFrugi #BoysAndGirls #Tootsa #BritishBrands #BoysFashion
Another Swedish brand that I adore is Mini Rodini. It is a creative brand with a sense of playfulness and quirkiness. Their animal graphic print sweatshirts are eye-catching and funky and their photoshoots have a cool edginess to them. They are one of Scandinavia's fastest growing childrenswear brands and sell in some of the most prestigious department stores and boutiques around the world. Being very committed to sustainability and corporate social responsibility they use certified organic fabrics and recycled materials in their garments. Over 97% of their product range now consists of sustainable materials making it one of the most ecological on the market. The many different certifications they hold including GOTS, fairtrade and OeKo-tex and an annual Sustainability Report confirms this ongoing commitment. The large product range includes some fabulous outerwear, accessories and swimwear. I especially love their panther sweatshirt and wish they did one in an adult size! Long live Mini Rodini :-)
#ScandiChic #MiniRodini #BoysFashion
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