Archive | October, 2014

Why are ethical kids clothes so expensive?

Why are most kids clothes that you buy so costly and especially ethical kids clothes?

Well a lot of it is to do with the way they are made. Lets start with standard kids clothing. There are A LOT of stages in the long journey from a cotton seed to garment (most kids clothing is made of cotton or cotton mix) and for every step in that journey there is a cost. Here is a pictogram neatly summarizing all the steps in how cotton clothing gets made. Needless to say it is long, with lots of people involved and lots of processing. It is kind of interesting in a ‘how stuff works’ way.

Anyway, what exactly are all these costs and at what points in the chain do they apply? The following infographic sums up the costs nicely….

 

 non ethical kids clothes are costly is many ways

costly huh?

So, at every step there are some serious costs in production. Costs borne mainly by women, by children and by the environment.

So I know you get that I am being ironic to make a point, and that I am kind of beating you over the head with my lack of subtlety. I cannot disagree. But for all my lack of subtlety the point is, I think, an important one. We often talk about the cost of kids clothes (standard AND ethical kids clothes), only in relation to our immediate cash flow, what is in our bank account at the time we are needing to re-dress whatever particular child has worn a hole, grown 2cm, or beaten a piece of clothing into submission. Continue Reading →

Our New Kid

As we get closer to launching (incrementally!), I have focussed a little more on what ‘muka kids’ is all about and how to best convey that in the imagery. With a bit of thinking what I knew was missing from our current design was the ‘quirk factor’. muka kids is all about stepping outside of the way we currently do things in kids clothing.

It is a new model of making and using kids clothing that is kinder, more sustainable, innovative and just happier. Drawing heavily on how clothes were made,bought and used 20, 30, 50 years ago, but looking firmly to the innovation need for the future. The clothes themselves are all about celebrating how kids really live their lives, the vibrancy they bring to world, and the totally unique way they have of being in the world around them (no stereotypes or mini adults here). So what was needed was something that told this story: retro quirky fun.

When you bootstrap a social enterprise you get pretty good at turning your hand to many things (not always with great success I add) and while I am like a pig in muck with design I do draw the line at coding and pattern making.

So I read a heap of kids books looking closely at what elements of kids illustrations work really well..

 

Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers. SUCH beautiful images

Lost & Found by Oliver Jeffers. SUCH beautiful images

I risked giving the ever willing child a large stick and took lots of photos…

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Organic Kids Clothes: What exactly ARE they?

confused about what organic clothing actually is?

‘Organic’ is a pretty over abused & confusing term. To clarify what it means when you see ‘organic kids clothes”, and cotton clothing specifically, here is the quick & dirty low down (with the long and clean bit at the end for those that like details).

(I did a post some time back explaining what certified fairtrade cotton means –  have a look at that too to get the full picture of environmental & ethical standards in relation to kids clothing).

To start with lets deal with the generic term ‘organic’ and what that means.

Well as Inigo Montoya says You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”…….

Essentially, if you see the term ‘organic’ on a garment with no certification mark, it means nothing at all (or conversely just about anything you might imagine). That is because there is no independently audited or agreed standard associated with the generic term ‘organic’, so don’t be hoodwinked into wasting your cash and good intentions on such products unless you are completely satisfied with what you are getting.

So moving on to ‘certified organic’ and what that means for clothing. The clothing production chain is a long one (here is a quick infographic on how it works). For cotton to be certified as organic there is a standard to be met at every point in that chain. Here is the quick overview of what that means…

 

the organic cotton production chain.

the organic cotton production chain.

 

So if you are satisfied at this point there is no more to see folks and feel free to click away. If you want more detail or have unanswered questions do read on….

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Sixteen Easy Steps to Insanity By ‘A Parent’

Buying the good way is sometimes the hard way

Let me introduce you to my own private hell – buying ethical clothes for my kids. It goes like this.I look one day at one of my children’s outfits. I notice that suddenly the ankles are nearer the knees, the cuffs nearer to elbows, there is a hole in the bum of the pants, and the child is walking like a small monkey because the top is so tight across the back. Cue hysteria. I will need to get new clothes. And the 16 easy steps to my insanity go like this…

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Top 18 Organic & Ethical Mens Clothing Brands

Men Care. Really.

Men Care. Really.

Being married to a bloke (partner in crime – mainly ones that embarrass the kids), having a brother (Uncle extraordinaire), a brother in law (supreme wrangler of twins ) and oh you know I talk to some man folk occasionally about thoughts and feelings and stuff too … I  get that they also care about ethics and the environment (shock horror) and give a rats about who make their clothes (Gasp). But weirdly often men go unconsidered when discussing sustainability, ethics and clothing. So I thought it was about time they felt the love and got their own guide on the top organic and ethical mens clothing brands.

I will admit that it is a little bit painful in our house when the man (yep he is the only one – given the cat is neutered) requires new underwear and t-shirts. Organic mens clothing is a stretch and ethical menswear is just a total faff to find. There is a lot of internet window shopping, deep sighs (from him), and hissed intakes of breath (me). Eventually I hop on line buy something on behalf and don’t you know it the undies go up your bum (or whatever the male equivalent to that is). Unsatisfactory to say the least.

So let not my pain be your pain and if you have a bloke or indeed are a bloke and you are looking for ethical mens clothing options let my (and my beloveds) research guide you  (and yes your ethical menswear and organic clothing will be able to be traded on our muka market place for preloved (and some new) ethical and organic clothing).

Note that the brands here are not ALL certified fair trade or organic menswear (there is just not all that many options out there at the gold standard) but all are in some way  making inroads to a more ethical mens fashion industry and indeed more sustainable clothing industry.*

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Why travel made me a social entrepreneur

Me on my first memorable journey to a different reality

Me on my first memorable journey to a different reality

We are madly preparing for our trip to India next month to meet our producers, and I have become buried in an avalanche of lists: passports, jabs, visas, grumpy bum medications, DEET spray (or as we call it in our house  F*** off spray, seriously been to the West coast of NZ?  The bugs there bring out a fair tirade of foul language), and lists for grandparents on taking care of the children, (includes a detailed  pictogram of how to work the telly). However I had time to reflect on the great gift and burden that travel and immersing yourself in a world of strangeness can be.

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