Drowning in a sea of kid’s clothes?
Let the purge begin!
Jessica Brook, founder of sustainable children’s clothing label, Ark & Eve, reflects on her journey through early motherhood, and why simplicity and sustainability now guide her decisions.
“It’s a girl!!” she said holding up four different outfits with matching shoes, socks and bows.
This was me at 18 weeks pregnant with my first child. An ecstatic mess of hormonal tears every time I even walked past a remotely cute outfit for my unborn baby girl. Little did I know she wouldn’t grow hair to tie up with the ribbons I bought, for at least the first two years of her life. I had not anticipated she would inherit my ‘wider foot’ and would never comfortably fit her first, or second, pair of converse sneakers. How could I have possibly foreseen that dresses were just not her thing and being anything other than naked for the first 18 months of her life was just not an option.
I had been collecting, some call it hoarding, clothes for my children long before they were any more than just a dream. A not so secret cupboard dedicated to neither gender specific clothing ranging from newborn to seven years was perfectly normal. Wasn’t it?
Now, digging a little deeper, I noticed an unhealthy sense of satisfaction when I added to the collection. Two years of counselling and a husband who was now having to find space in the garage for his unmentionables, led to the realisation that my childhood spent being teased about the clothes I wore had manifested into a serious overcompensation for my own little people.
Fast forward five years and the kids clothing rack isn’t getting any smaller.
Add another little bundle of joy, a serious downsize on cupboard space after relocating to a tiny Queenslander (which I will add, has no built in’s what so ever), and I still have size seven red skinny jeans waiting patiently for my kids to get some wear out of them. Not to mention the full blown fashion obsessed five-year-old that even with an erupting chest of draws still has ‘nothing to wear’ (insert eye roll). The abundance of clothes, the morning meltdowns when choosing something to wear, the never-ending washing, drying, folding and washing all over again, was getting a little… ok a lot, out of hand.
It can happen top the best of us.
The most recent NATSEM report shows parents and carers on a typical middle income pay up to $22802 on clothing for children from birth until they finish their education. This is more than health ($22708) and education ($22322).
Not only are we spending a huge amount on clothing for our children each year, Aussies are sending 85% of textiles to landfill.
“Australians buy an average of 27 Kilograms of new textiles each year and then discard about 23 kilograms into landfill – and two thirds of those discards are manmade, synthetic, plastic fibres that never break down.” https://textilebeat.com/aussies-send-85-of-textiles-to-landfill/
With the option to buy kids clothes online at out fingertips, major chain stores selling unethically manufactured t-shirts for $3 a piece, and a large percentage of people throwing clothes out after a couple of wears, the fast fashion dilemma can sometimes seem overwhelming and too big to tackle, much like the wardrobe in the children’s bedroom.
Time to intervene…the capsule wardrobe
“As I have aged, my sense of what I like has become clearer, my actions have become more earth conscious…”
While the kids wardrobe had been ever expanding, mine had been getting smaller. As I have aged my sense of what I like has become clearer, my actions have become significantly more earth conscious and the literally sickening feeling I experienced if buying unethical, unsustainable items pushed me to have an unintentional capsule wardrobe.
Let the purge begin!
With a little bit of gentle encouragement, and persuasion, a few items began being donated to charity. A few more were given to friends and family who needed them. A few more were put away to be handed down… and unpacked a hundred times over the course of their lifetime, when I’m feeling sentimental about how tiny they once were.
4 Piles to guide the purge.
- Does it get worn regularly?
- Is it sustainable? Quality is important when washing becomes more frequent with a capsule wardrobe. While some styles at cheaper chain stores are really very lovely, I have found that they can’t last more than a couple of washes before they lose their shape, shrink or pill. We aim to buy less and buy quality.
- Is it comfortable? This includes the cut, the size, the material, ease of wear.
- Can it transfer between seasons? Can it be easily layered?
- Can it be transferred between siblings – boys and girls included.
- Still has plenty of wear left.
- These items don’t get worn regularly.
- The clothes no longer fit.
- Generous second hand clothes you may not have room for.
- Use for cleaning rags.
- Convert to dolls clothes.
- Use the natural materials in your compost.
- Keep some for painting shirts or mud pie making clothes.
- Something special. I have a few hand-made pieces that both my grandmothers made for me when I was little. These have been worn by my children and may even be worn by theirs.
- Some special moments pieces. I have kept the I dressed my babies in on the day I bought them home from hospital.
- Other beautiful pieces from special brands that may be passed down to the next generation.
Our aim is to simplify, reduce, choose carefully, invest in quality and say no to the things we don’t really need.
From obsession to donation
My, lets be honest, ‘obsession’ with children’s clothing has now transformed into something I’m very proud of, Ark and Eve. We are a sustainable and ethical option for kids clothes online, using only natural plant dyed fabrics, practical designs that grow with your child, and quality construction to ensure their longevity as they are handed down. We include Ark & Eve in our capsule but also hold a few other brands very near and dear. But more on this later…
Sarah Lazarovic’s Buyercrchy is a great place to start when building a capsule wardrobe for your children
There are plenty of sustainable, high quality options when buying baby and kids clothes online. In Australia we have more and more labels taking ethical and sustainable responsibility. Also the recent trend of selling pre-loved children’s clothing through Instagram has opened up opportunities for many people to pass on beautiful pieces at a reduced cost and is an accessible option for those buying second hand clothes that have been carefully curated.
For my daughter of five.
This is her entire wardrobe for all seasons. I have tried to include everything we actually have and ours is by no means perfect.
- Dresses x 7 (Dresses are her favourite). She wears them every day. We choose designs that can be layered for winter, are well made and use natural fibres.
- Skirt x 2
- Shorts x 2
- Shirts x 5
- Jeans x 1
- Tights x 4
- Sandals x 1
- Boots x 1
- Sneakers x 1
- Underwear x 10
- Swimwear x 2
- Socks x 8
- Singlet x 3
- Hat x 1
- Jumper x 2
- Raincoat x 1
- Parker x 1
We also have a collection for extracurricular activities such as a karate gi, ballet leotard, snow clothes and quite a big dress up basket… which I have been told by my daughter, is off limits for the purge.
No one comes between a five-year-old and her Queen Elsa dress, right?
We care a whole lot about the clothes we create, if you would like to add a piece from our collection of sustainable children’s and babies clothing to your child’s capsule wardrobe visit www.arkandeve.com.au
If you would like to hear more about our ongoing journey in sustainable fashion join our mailing list www.arkandeve.com.au