I love vintage fashion and expressing my uniqueness through my style, and it’s been an incredible joy to dress my twin girls. But fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, responsible for 10 percent of the world’s carbon footprint and damage to our water, air, and soil. Of course, I want my girls to look cute—but more importantly, I want to be accountable for our effect on the environment for the sake of their future.
I already research how to feed my family nutritious, delicious food and avoid chemicals and pollutants as much as possible. I wanted to go further and explore the consequences of our closets. When I began to educate myself on how to shop for my children with a purpose, I found a wave of small shops and designers whose practices are ethical and have a lower impact on the environment. They prove that you don’t have to sacrifice killer kid-style to find a brand that is dedicated to diversity, equality, and sustainability. Below are just a few of my favorites.
Little Minis is designed by Kelly Zajfen, a mom to twins. The designs are made from deadstock—the fabric left over from manufacturers—so they create less waste and emit fewer toxins. Each piece is handmade in Los Angeles with safe working conditions and fair wages. By choosing a brand that discloses its production practices, you know how the garments your child is wearing directly impact our environment and the people who produce them. What I love most is that the brightly colored textiles and vintage-inspired styles are sold in limited quantities, so my girls will always stand out.
Pleiades Designs is also a mom-powered business—Lynsi Coressel runs the small shop out of Boulder, Colorado. Her vision is to create heirloom-quality pieces that will last, as opposed to wasteful fast fashion. She employs in-home seamstresses in the U.S., creating jobs for stay-at-home parents. The business also donates a portion of its sales to an organization that aids and empowers survivors of human trafficking. When my girls put on one of the magical, intricate dresses, I know that my purchase is supporting other women.
Online boutique Le Petite Organic offers organic and eco-friendly clothing and accessories that are safe for your little ones. Sanjay Smith opened the online shop in 2013 after feeling disappointed by the lack of diversity in brands she loved—none of the models she saw reflected her kids, who are Jamaican. She stages her own photo shoots for some of the brands she carries, creating a brand identity that includes children of all different ethnic backgrounds. Her own collection is inspired by vintage styles.
Here are a few other tips for consuming conscientiously:
· Shop vintage: I love finding kids fashion at thrift stores and flea markets. I like looking for denim or nostalgic clothing that reminds me of my own childhood.
· Repurpose: The other day I bought vintage kids Levi’s for $1.00. When my girls outgrow them, I will cut them into shorts to give them another life.
· Browse fashion forums: I am an active member on several buy-sell-trade forums on Facebook. It’s a great resource to find like-minded parents who enjoy dressing, styling, and finding a bargain for their kids. You can also trade and sell clothes your kids have outgrown. It’s an affordable way to keep your kids stylish without having to buy into the harmful fast-fashion industry.
· Host a swap: My friends and I periodically get together for clothing swaps at a local park or someone’s home. While the parents exchange items, the kids can play or participate by choosing something they want to wear.
Up next, shop the clean products Kourt uses on her kids.
About Sarah Lefton: I’m lucky to have known Kourt for over 20 years, since we met in undergrad in Tucson. We became instant friends, sharing a passion for working out, cooking, making upcycled tops with her BeDazzler, and doing mini photo shoots in the desert—maybe one day I’ll share those images with Poosh.
As we moved into motherhood and our friendship evolved, we have raised our children with a similar mindset. I was excited when she asked me to write a column on my love for children’s fashion and the importance of supporting small shops that contribute to the betterment of our world.