When my son was about three and a half and wanted to choose his own outfits, I became interested in producing my own children's clothes.
He didn't care about what I would refer to as style, but only to his own imagination. As a result, the clothes he chose were often a disguise to pretend to be something else; an animal, character, or camouflage, although the clothes were not intended for this purpose. He also wanted to wear dresses, just like his friends and cousins.
To be honest, the outfits he chose were much more fabulous than the ones I chose for him, and he always wore the boldest colours and prints together. Carrying no fear or thoughts about what anybody would think of him. One of his favourite things was to pull his colourful socks up to his knees when wearing shorts or dresses. So, I thought to myself, why not? Why not just dress according to your mood and imagination? You are only three years old; who's to judge?
At times, it was difficult to find clothes that he wanted to wear. So we often searched in the girl's section because it was more colourful, bolder, and had more options. But, unfortunately, many clothes had a girly cut and style and weren't always suitable for a boy. I also realised that many printed clothes have light backgrounds that aren't always play-ground friendly. When creating my own clothes now, I understand the choice of lightly dyed fabrics, but voices from friends and myself ask for clothes that disguise stains rather than highlights them.
I also remember that my son often asked for dresses and loved wearing them. But, after a while, he got tired of them because the fabric constantly got in the way when he played or rode his bike. By the end of the day, he was back in his t-shirt and leggings, only to wear a dress the following day. I then thought about other children wearing dresses and how they get along? Do they adapt their games according to the clothes or vice versa? I don't know and will not judge, but I hope all children get to play the games and be as active as they wish without having fabric around that disturbs them.
When realising this and thinking more profoundly, I felt an urge to create clothes that I would 100% buy for my own children and that I hoped they would accept and wear. Then my consciousness started to speak. Produce more clothes on earth? Isn't there enough already? and what about the carbon footprints? The ocean is drowning in plastic waste, and forests are declining. What future am I sending my children to?
I started to research the clothing industry, and tears fell from my eyes. Reading about the Rana Plaza collapsing in Daka and people working under poor conditions just for the sake of me to buy cheap and overproduced clothes, I don't really care about, was heartbreaking. Additionally, I also understood that the clothing industry uses many resources and produces a lot of emissions and toxic waste. So maybe my dreams were just a waste of time after all.
Then I came across an article that caught my attention. Small independent brands that care for the environment and social issues are needed to make a fashion revolution. I started to understand that by creating and selling my own clothes, I'm responsible for how they are made and how they should be used. The worst part of the fashion industry is when efforts and resources are used to make something with the only purpose to fill up wardrobe space and then go in the rubbish.
My mind was on fire again. What if I can make a small, responsible, and fun collection after all? I took some help and decided on five things to focus on: First, the materials should be as natural, organic, and pure as possible, resulting in durable clothes that can eventually biodegrade or be recycled and harming the environment as little as possible. Second, digitally print the fabric because it enables limitless colours and gradients, thus uses fewer resources and produce less toxic waste than traditional dyeing and screen printing. Third, make a limited amount of clothes that work over time and seasons that all children can wear, making them used often and for a long time to come. Fourth, invest in trustworthy and sustainable manufacturers, preferably driven by women, and keep the production in the EU. Fifth, reduce emissions as far as possible, and when these can't be avoided, offset them and support carbon-reducing and social charities.
So, I ended up making the Beetle's collection. Play friendly and organic clothes for toddlers and children that I hope will be loved and used a lot. You can read more about the bomber jacket, treggings, and tunic dress in more detail and get to know them closer if you wish.
The collection has already made me proud and confident I'm doing the right thing. First of all, my son chose to wear both the Beetle's zip-up cardigan and the Beetle's treggings one day because he was in disguise. He looked so cool and felt so good. Secondly, I've chosen to support a cleaner stoves project in Malawi and will donate 1.5% of the total retail price of each sold item from the Beetle's collection to this project. So far, carbon credits from the collection represent 11 tonnes of CO2 prevented from entering the atmosphere. I'm happy to bring joy to already privileged children and make a difference to other families and the environment through my clothes!
I hope you like the clothes in the Beetles collection! It's been so fun, developing and rewarding working with it and I'm looking forward to get started with my next collection!