Our super six ethical babywear brands to watch out for
It doesn’t take becoming a mum to care about the planet or those less fortunate than ourselves, but it does perhaps make you think about what difference you can make and what kind of a world you want your little ones to grow up in. And these days there is a huge choice of brands out there – many of them UK-based – who really are making a difference.
We’ve come so far from the time when the idea of ethical clothing conjured up images of dowdy, uncomfortable items made of hemp. Children’s clothes can, by their very nature, feel wasteful, as they’re only worn for a short space of time, but it is now easy to find pieces that are not only made well but look stylish, as well as having less consumer guilt attached.
Today’s ethical brands carefully select materials that are sensitive to young skin, are mindful of the affects of the manufacturing processes on the environment, and make sure everyone involved in the production is looked after. Many are now taking that further and using their proceeds and branding in ways that can support those less fortunate across the globe. Which means what’s good for your baby now is also making an impact on their future, and their mark on the world. This is shopping with a conscience; feelgood fashion for the kids.
Here are Fussy Bird’s Super Six ethical baby brands to keep an eye out for…
Little Green Radicals was one of the first go-to brands for eco-tots. It started life in 2005 and was one of the earliest UK companies to get a Fairtrade certification for cotton. They have always been organic, too. Their farmers in India get a guaranteed price for their cotton, and harsh chemicals and pesticides are a no-no – great for sensitive allergy-prone skin and great for the environment. Their factory employees are well looked-after, with fair wages and maternity leave as a given, and their designs are always colourful, playful and beautiful, often with a story behind them, with designer Josie often finding inspiration from fairytales and films. The brand now has a full range of baby and toddler clothing, including sleeping bags, as well as a natural skincare range.
Launched in October 2014, Darlo is an organic ethical babywear brand who, with every product sold, provide a week’s school meals for a child in India via their charitable partner, The Akshaya Patra foundation. To date they have provided over 700 weeks of school meals. Their new range for 2016 will include Punky Pineapple and Ferocious Tiger prints, but we also love their classic range of baby tops and sleepsuits in delicious combinations of mint, grey and coral. Literally good enough to eat.
Rockin’ Baby is the children’s brand with charity at its heart. For every baby sling or pouch sold, Rockin’ Baby donates another (the aptly named ‘hero sling’) to a mother in need in Haiti or Kenya – mother to mother. As we announced last year in our Brands We Love, Rockin’ Baby has expanded the range into baby and childrenswear, and we think their latest SS16 collection is their best yet. Playful and vibrant, each piece also features the all-important attention to detail that every mother looks for in quality babywear, such as easy-access poppers.
As with their slings, for every piece of clothing sold, Rockin’ Baby donates the same item from their Hero range, brand new, to children in Africa (most recently Uganda and the Sierra Leone region), providing vital clothing for children with next to nothing – child to child.
In 2006, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie was travelling in Argentina when he saw the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes. Determined to help, he created a for-profit sustainable business based on the one-for-one principle. TOMS Shoes has now provided over 50 million pairs of shoes to children, and TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to over 360,000 since 2011. More recently, in 2015, TOMS Bag Collection was founded with the mission to help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help a woman safely deliver her baby. This isn’t just guilt-free shopping, it’s shopping with incredible global-reaching benefits. Which makes LP’s Tiny TOMS obsession more justifiable.
We first came across this brand at Bubble London this year (they won the AW16 Rising Star Award and we featured them in our Spring Style: Babies item). All the profits from this brand go around the world to support orphaned and abandoned babies, working with SOS Children. SOS Children creates communities for children who have nobody to turn to. The children are cared for by their SOS Mother, and they live in family homes in the village with their SOS brothers and sisters. This enables children who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves, on the streets or in slums, to have a second chance in life. Which is something we couldn’t support more. And whether you’re buying your newborn’s first outfit, clothes for your baby’s first birthday, or a special treat just because, every purchase enables unfortunate children to grow up in loving family homes.
Cornwall-based Frugi celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2014. From small beginnings, this organic baby- and childrenswear brand has won countless awards and has never deviated from its mission to help improve lives, whether that’s thinking about babies, mums, their factory workers or the environment. Their factories guarantee minimum wages and health insurance in a country with no NHS, they give a percentage of their profits to the planet to help bees, trees and whales, and they even support an orphanage in India. Plus it helps that their designs are fun, vibrant, long-lasting (knee patches and strong seams) and use the softest cotton with no chemicals, and include clever designs that give little adventurers the room and flexibility they need.
We've already detailed our joy over the new-season bounty in Into Autumn for the girls. Soft knits, cosy hues of mustard and plums, snuggly accessories - we're all in. Conker season is traditionally a time of Good Clothes and wrapping up stylishly (you've seen The September Issue, right? It's the same for kids in our eyes). And there are some fantastic new lines for the boys, too.
Forget seasons of mist, it's all about the season of musts this autumn, as in what we must have for their wardrobes. And yes we do love collecting conkers and kicking through crispy leaves and smelling bonfires in the air on the walk home from school, but we also love all the fab new-season collections. Bring on the soft knits, cosy tights and the warm russets, mustards and plums of autumn...
If you've been watching Stranger Things on Netflix (and if you haven't, seriously, where have you been? Cancel everything and binge-watch the first season now - since its release this summer Netflix has already commissioned a second series, airing in 2017) you'll know that the dorkiest coolest kids in town at the moment are Mike, Lucas, Dustin and Will. Their Goonies meets E.T. meets Stephen King sci-fi adventures have fuelled an '80s nostalgia trip thanks to the show's near-perfect recreation of the era, and our sartorial eye has been on the detail for their retro apparel.
The new term is well under way, and we're just about getting our heads around which day is PE day, when the after-school clubs are, homework, lunchboxes, shoe-polishing and knotting a tie once again. But as smart and lovely as they look in their uniforms, it's always nice for them to have some comfies to throw on when they get home and can concentrate only on stuffing their faces and zoning out in front of Octonauts.