One of the most unexpectedly frustrating – and dare I say depressing – aspects of parenthood is children’s clothing. There are piles of clothes everywhere; you’re constantly sorting – what’s too small, too big, too pink, to sell, to hand down, to hand side-ways. And as you schlepp another sack of teeny bits to the charity shop or wash-fold-and lay them out at the Nearly New Sale, you try not to think of the Bangladeshi sweatshop that keeps your kids in cheap and cheerful threads. You can numb your guilt by buying second hand, but there’s no getting around the fact that many kids’ clothes don’t last. The little ones grow too fast, and quality is not what it was.
Children’s fashion brand Jake + Maya Kids is trying to address this endless cycle of throw-away togs by launching “the world’s most sustainable kids fashion brand” on Kickstarter. Quite a bold claim, one might say, but the founders have put a lot of design thinking and clever techniques where their mouth is.
The collection is designed to grow with kids. As the press blurb points out, by extending a garment’s lifespan by nine months, its carbon footprint gets reduced by 20-30%. Named Metamorphosis, the range features bespoke waistbands, longer hems and cuffs and other adjustable features.
Another key aspect of the brand is its zero-waste approach. According to founder and creative director Tze Ching Yeung, it was one of the first things they set about solving. “We experimented with various zero-waste design techniques to figure out what shapes would work. We experimented and played a lot.” All the experimentation has paid off, and the leftovers from one pattern is reduced down to a minuscule pile of threads.
The collection is also gender neutral – music to many a parent’s ears, and something that was particularly important to Tze Ching: “I have a real issue with gender specific clothing and prints. It is neither good for the environment (as it limits wearability and sharing among siblings) or for the equality of children.”
Many of the items come with an “extension pack” that further extends their lifespan. These will be accompanied by online tutorials to show owners how to incorporate them and how to upcycle and mend not just the brand’s but any clothing. In addition, you can send an item back to HQ for mending. As Tze Ching says, the collection is trying to sell a certain mindset, rather than just kids fashion. “It’s about growing with love and care, for both our environment and people around us.”
It is a wonderful notion, and very cleverly and thoughtfully executed. I will be one of the first to buy into it, and maybe soon wave goodbye the depressing piles of too-small-too-pink-too-crap children’s clothing for good.
Check out Jake + Maya Kids’ Kickstarter page here
The funding deadline is April 13 2017.