Clothes that grow with your kids
Brands are beginning to come up with childrenswear that adapts to size changes
It all started with me making clothes for my niece at home. The idea of adjustable clothing was not a thought then but when the deviation in usual design was being appreciated by people, I began taking it seriously," says Veronna Damani, founder of the Mumbai-based children’s clothing label VERONNA, which is known for its adjustable designs.
These are clothes designed to be resizable. Children can wear them for longer, since they don’t outgrow them as quickly. They also offer a flexible fit within the same age group.
VERONNA’s clothes, meant for ages ranging from six months to five years, can last for six-nine months. In the usual course, children’s clothing needs to be upscaled every two months or so, says Damani. Not only are such clothes potentially cost-effective, they look even more attractive in a time of pandemic, when concerns about trying out clothes in stores remain very real and picking out the right size online, difficult.
Adjustable children’s clothing, as it is known, comes with design elements such as adjustable straps and deep armholes that make the outfits durable for a longer period. Damani, who founded her label in 2018, says: “The children’s clothing industry in India is growing and it is scary to see how many clothes are disposed of every so often from it. And that isn’t even including the resources that get wasted." Since its inception, VERONNA has tried to be a minimal waste company.
For Nandini Girish and Dhiju Anoob, who co-founded The Nadhi , a Bengaluru-based children’s clothing label, in 2017, the question of how to reduce carbon footprint and environmental hazards was at the forefront. Girish says: “It’s why we have been trying to make our label’s production process a circular one and the clothes, organic and sustainable."
For both brands, the adjustability factor takes the form of smart design and construction techniques at the manufacturing stage. It could be something as simple as putting buttons beside the collar on a T-shirt, to make it easier for a child to wear it. There are rompers with adjustable cross-back straps with three rows of buttonholes. Damani says, “The rompers’ backs are also elasticated (stitched within soft fabrics seamlessly) at the waistline and can expand with it, making it last a little longer." A back tie-up fastener helps the romper adapt further as the child grows.
Both Girish and Anoob say they have young daughters they could try their designs on. Girish says, “As our children started outgrowing their clothes in just one season, we realized we wanted to design clothes which had an extended shelf-life." Their Grow-With-Me (2017) collection has simple tweaks, like extra-long trouser hems which can be rolled and cuffed through small buttons, depending on the child’s height, adjustable straps and modular, adaptable designs, which enable dresses to turn into tunics. “Any of our designs can grow up to twice their original sizes, and there is anyway a 3-inch gap from the body in all our clothes, for children to wear with ease," Girish says. Elements such as seamless, deeper armholes enable a good fit even after shoulder- length increases and fully-buttoned fasteners can just be slid over and worn.
Both labels highlight these techniques with the use of soft fabrics, such as organic or handwoven cotton and its various blends—so they are also easy to maintain. The Nadhi uses natural dyes for its collection.
While constructional changes in children’s clothing design are the first step to making clothes that can be used for longer, London-based brand Petit Pli has gone further, implementing changes at the more structural level of the fabric itself.
Founded in 2017 by aeronautical engineer Ryan Mario Yasin, the brand has developed a sustainable, engineered fabric that can expand up to seven times its original size. The technical material is made from recycled fabrics, and the width and length follow the child’s growth pattern. These clothes, which can be recycled, are lightweight, rainproof and ripstop—meaning they are reinforced to remain durable.
A set of trousers and pullovers from Petit Pli can be worn comfortably by children from the age of nine months to four years.
For parents, perhaps the biggest advantage of adaptable clothing is its cost-effectiveness. Girish says there are seven size changes in the first few years. So parents earlier had only two options: Keep buying clothes for each size or look for oversized clothes that would last longer.
As Damani puts it, “It’s so important to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer and think about how they can get more value for money from the product as well."
A smart, flexible wardrobe could be the way forward.
Should children wear masks? It’s a no for infants and children under 2. But a yes for “children 2 years and older", in public settings, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization recommends a three-layer mask (with a filter in the middle layer) for children above the age of 2.
Lounge lists some options:
u The Nadhi makes simple, embroidered cotton masks (pictured). Available at TheNadhi.com; starting from ₹180.
u Nirvana Being’s Airific N95 Anti Viral Mask claims to have a unique nanotech filter. Available at NirvanaBeing.com; ₹995
u Petit Pli’s masks come withan expandable technology and are resizable. Available at shop.petit.pli.com; £25 (around ₹2,500)