We slightly hero worship Kate and Charlie who started our favourite kids' brand, Runaway Design Collective. They're firm favourites in our house, for the fun designs they create and the awesome ethos they promote. It's no wonder they're our Friends. Kate's written a lovely piece for us about why they started RDC, and really, we're so glad they did!
Step into any department store or kids' boutique and you'll find the same thing. Clothing segregated by gender, with a clear implicit message. Princesses to the left, adventurers to the right, with no shared interests or style. Why do we feel the need to gender our kids so quickly and forcefully through clothing? The split between boys' and girls' clothing isn't innate, it's largely manufactured, by a huge industry that rarely has our best interests at heart.
This is part of the reason we started our own label, the Runaway Design Collective. Ethically made, unisex kids clothing that's driven by what kids actually love. Beautiful, thoughtful imagery and design produced by artists from all over the world. Made to last and be loved just as much by the younger sister as it was by the older brother.
Over the past five years since we've had kids, quite a few inspiring independent labels have popped up with a focus on unisex kidswear. This is great, though we're still rather a collective drop in the ocean. When buying (or making!) for our kids and friends' kids, here's what underpins our design and decision-making:
Encourage Self Expression and Creativity
We dress to express ourselves and to tell a story. Kids take an interest in stories and characters pretty early on and we should encourage that in a creative, imaginative way, not one that pins them into gender stereotypes before they can even express themselves verbally.
Let the Kid be a Kid!
Kids' clothes should be built for fun. Smart design is fine so long as wearability and comfort are driving that design. We steer clear of adult clothing in mini sizes, and of overly fussy clothing (usually made for girls) that precludes climbing trees and getting grubby.
Talk about art, design and stories
Our favourite designs are ones that really speak to kids' imaginations. When they give their favourite t-shirt a name and insist that we fish it out of the laundry basket to wear it just one more time we know we're onto a winner. Beautiful imagery - whether it be on the streets, at the gallery or on your t-shirt - can spark conversations and provide a great entry point for talking to kids about art and ideas.
So next time you're on the hunt for a gift or desperately playing catch-up with a kid who's outgrown their wardrobe in the space of a few months, think twice. They're only clothes, sure, but they're not meaningless. Where they come from, what they say and the outlook they encourage are worth a second thought, at least. Don't you think?
Check out Runaway Design Collective on IG and their website! Lucky &Breathe readers get 15% off with the code 'runawayandbreathe'.