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ethical kids clothing

Babies, Children, Families, Teenagers, Whole Family

6 Places to Buy Ethical Kids Clothes in 2019

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Something I get HEAPS of emails about is where to buy ethical kids clothes.

I started putting an ethical kids clothing directory together a couple of years ago, and the task quickly became out of hand for this one-woman band. It turns out there are a TON of organic baby clothes companies out there. It quickly became apparent that pretty much every other baby clothes company is organic, and whilst that is great, it soon became a very laborious and torturous task trying to index these rapidly multiplying shops. What I will say is that if you are thinking about going into business making and selling organic babywear then stop right there and consider making older kids clothing instead, where there is a massive gap in the market.

That directory is still languishing in my drafts, and rather than try to go back to it, I thought I’d round up some of my favourite places to buy ethical kids clothes. And there are still some organic babywear options below, I just haven’t gone overboard with them.

My kids are aged 3 and 7 so we haven’t had to navigate the teenage years yet, but I’ll share as many tips as I can to cover dressing babies, toddlers, kids, and teenagers ethically.

where to shop for ethical kids clothes

1. eBay

eBay is one of my all-time favourites for ethical kids clothing. There’s nothing more ethical than secondhand clothing, so eBay is brilliant if you want to shop ethically but on a tight budget.

eBay is also a great place to stock up on clothes for older kids and teenagers too – just make sure you click the used filter at the side.

One thing I particularly love eBay for is the fact that parents sell bundles of clothes that their kid has grown out of. Just search, for example, “girls bundle age 3 4” and you can find hundreds and hundreds of bundles of clothing. Here you can pick up practically everything your kid will need in one parcel for very little.

If you really want to get the most for your money then my top eBay thrifty trick is to stock up on winter wear in the summertime, when fewer people are searching and bidding on winter wear. And likewise, searching for summer gear in winter is a superb way to grab some great bargains. I’ve also got lots of eBay tips this way.

2. Charity Shops

My other favourite place to shop ethically for kids is in charity shops. I’m really lucky to have a Barnados charity shop near me that exclusively sells kids wear and gear. I’ve come out of there with a pile of fantastic clothes for my kids and spent little over £10.

If the charity shops near you don’t cater much for kids then Oxfam Online is a super place to shop for secondhand ethical kids clothes online, in sizes ranging from birth to age 16.

Delivery is a flat fee of £3.95, no matter how many items you buy, and they also offer free returns making Oxfam Online a hassle way to shop for ethical kids clothes.

3. Frugi

frugi kids ethical clothing

Frugi is a great stop if you are looking to buy some new ethical pieces. Catering for babies and kids up to age 10, Frugi’s bright and colourful clothes are made from organic and ethically sourced cotton.

All their outwear is made from recycled plastic bottles, which is great, but you may want to buy a Guppyfriend for washing, as these types of materials do release microfibres when washed.

Offering free delivery and an easy returns policy, it’s an easy way to shop from home.

4. Toby Tiger

toby tiger ethical kids clothes

Toby Tiger is another ethical kids online shop that’s big on colour. Their ethical and GOTS certified organic cotton kidswear, which I really appreciate not being labelled as for girls or for boys, is for kids aged up to six years old.

5. Etsy

organic kids tshirts

If you’re looking to shop directly from independent makers then Etsy is the place for you. Here you’ll find great ethical kidswear from makers like Wiltshire based Lost Shapes. Lost Shapes sell colourful kids organic, environmentally friendly and fairly traded t-shirts and jumpers, in sizes up to age 14, and starting from just £8.

6. Tootsa

tootsa ethical kids clothes

Finally, Tootsa (formerly known as Tootsa MacGinty) is a wonderful online shop selling ethical and largely unisex knitwear and other kids clothes in baby to age 10. And Tootsa even does a small adult line if you want to twin with your kids…!

Years ago I bought two jumpers for my eldest – which have since been handed down to my youngest, and these are still going strong, and still looking like new.

If your piece isn’t faring so well, then Tootsa offers a repair service where they’ll do their best to find a solution to keep your favourite Tootsa clothes going for longer. They’ll send you buttons, trims, patches and cover the cost of replacing a zipper if needs be. Failing all of that, you can send your old Tootsa clothes back to them in exchange for a discount off your next order.

Tootsa does fantastic sales, periodically (right now there’s 70% off until the end of today). It’s a good idea to sign up to their mailing list or follow on social media to keep updated.

I hope this is helpful in your search for places to buy ethical kids clothes! Have I missed any of your favourites?

Babies, Children, Families

9 Clever Clothes Shopping Tips

clothes shopping tips

clothes shopping tips

Today I’ve got a really useful guest post from Jessica Berentson-Shaw, a New Zealander with a passion for ethical clothing and social justice.  Jessica blogs over at Muka Kids – where she’s documenting her adventures in setting up a kids ethical clothing enterprise.  Jessica is sharing with us her clever clothes shopping tips for buying kids clothes that will help you get the most out of your money and the clothes that you buy.

A lot of the clothing we buy these days is of the cheap, and what I call, ‘uncheerful’ variety (lets face it no-one was smiling while they were making them).  Cheap clothing may not have a long and fruitful life & therefore will have a heavier footprint.  However, sometimes spending more does not always equate to a long lasting garment either.

It’s a bit of a minefield, so to help you out here are 9 clever clothes shopping tips to ensure the clothes you buy (new or old) live to a ripe old age and tread much more lightly on the earth.  I have focussed mainly on kids clothes here, but these tips apply equally to all clothing.

From fabric choices, to considering buttons, and more, these shopping tips will see you right!

environmental impact of clothes

1. Look for quality fabric

Look for heavier, thicker, fabrics with closer weaves or knits as these tend to be more durable. Avoid polyester components as these will pile and be scratchy within months.  Give it a feel: does it seem like a quality well made fabric? Ask the shop about the weight & density of a fabric if you buy online.  Expect a sensible answer.

Types of fabrics that tend to have a longer life include denim & corduroy and heavy knitted cotton fabrics.  Those with a small component of ‘elastic’, for example lycra, can also be beneficial for retaining the shape and longevity of clothes.

2. Is the fabric is fit for purpose?

Look for clothes where the use of the clothing is well matched to the fabric it is made from. Have the designers even considered this issue during it’s making, or perhaps tested it with wearers?  Lightweight denim for kids winter trousers is never a good choice unless you live in a hot country!

3. Certified organic fabrics are better quality

There are two reasons for this.  The first is about the way the cotton is grown, the second is to do with the treatment it receives during processing.  Studies have shown that compared to conventional cotton, organically grown cotton has longer and stronger fibres, with better quality yarns being produced from organic cotton.

Organic cotton is not put though chemical treatments during cleaning, processing, dying and printing, many of which are petroleum or acid based and can break down the fibres at a molecular level.  In the final stage of production, clothing is also often given a Teflon, polymer or formaldehyde based coating to reduce creasing and give a smooth feel,  These chemicals may weaken the fibre, and reduce the life of the item.  So certified organic cotton clothing is likely to be better longer lasting product, and better value.

4. Look for clothes that allow for growth

Where kids are concerned a longer lasting item often equates to one that still fits after a growth spurt.  Most kids tend to grow up not out a whole lot, so cuffs on arms and legs that can be turned up and then down are a good buy, or looking out for hems that you can turn up or down.  In waistbands look for elastic AND drawstrings for both a stretch and a pull in.

5. Account for the weak points

Have potential weak points been considered and perhaps reinforced, maybe with patches on the knees and elbows?  How about reinforced stitching in places like the crotch or underarms?

6. Look for clothes that have multiple functions

Multifunctional garments means you can get more wear and more value from clothing.  Reversible coats & jackets; pyjamas tops that double as t-shirt (only you will be the wiser!); leggings that can double as tights, the list goes on!

7. Know a thing about kids heads

Mini adults they are not: kids have heaps to learn and a big head to match.  So check out that neck line – does it look a tad small for that extending neural development, or a not particularly stretchy fabric?  A good ribbed fabric around the neck will help with stretch.

8. Transverse the seasons and fashions

‘Fast fashion’ (and cheap clothing) is a cash in on the idea we always need the new next best thing.  Here is a tip: great design lasts years not weeks.  A good stripe, or a single colour will never go out of fashion, whereas character based clothing will be out as soon as the new Peppa Pig comes along!  Look to the long term item and clothing will still look appealing in the wardrobe next year (or on the next child!).

vintage kids dress

Jessica’s  daughter in a dress  she wore as a child

9. Buttons & Zips

There is nothing worse than all the buttons on a garment falling off within a few days of wearing.  Don’t be afraid to give them a tug to test the quality of the stitching of them!  Buttons do offer one benefit though – they are an easy fix.  Zippers on the other hand wear out, and are hard to fix, so are not always the best choice for longevity: though if you make friends with a good repairer they can replace a zip in a jif!

Got any tips on what to look for when buying for years not seasons? Any particular pet peeves in kids clothing? I’d love to hear them.

Top photo by Flickr user LeAnn, licenced under Creative Commons 2.0.