Upcycling for kidswear

What if you could make children’s clothes for the purpose of handing them down across generations?

Sew Laurel Lee‘s work embodies this idea precisely. A New Zealand based fashion designer, Lee repurposes secondhand textiles into beautiful and timeless outfits for kids. Recently, she partnered with Kimono Kollab, a Singaporean reuse project, to repurpose vintage kimonos into adorable one-of-a-kind dress ensembles. Though clothes like this tend to have a fleeting wearability by one single human in childhood, its appeal is in the concept itself. Such upcycling in the fashion industry has already come into focus as an innovative way to create consciously and reduce waste, but for children’s clothes specifically the idea remains under-explored. Until this past decade, there have been fears surrounding fashion-izing children and what they wear but that was only a projection of adult insecurities about their kids’ futures. Just look at Japanese Coco Princess! Clothes don’t have to be gender specific to help kids feel great about themselves but it helps when they are unique. That’s where upcycling vintage bedding, clothes, homewares, costume and other decorative fabrics can swoop in and impress.

Just imagine cute little overcoats made from 1970s upholstery material. Or bucket hats reconstructed from 1980s marine themed bedding? Old school patterned pillowcases could easily become tops while antique tablecloth can be sculpted into high functioning tween overalls. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re looking to infuse character to the youths in your family while acquiring wearables consciously, Laurel Lee is available for custom orders through her site. Find her at http://www.sewlaurellee.com.

Follow her on Instagram at @sewlaurellee.

One thought on “Upcycling for kidswear

  1. Great Blog Marie! I love this idea in retail however the concept is as old as humans. Moms have always found ways to repurpose textiles out of necessity. In fact I would argue the majority of parents in the world are not able to buy new clothes for thier kids all the time. Also the idea of fashion for children is relatively new. Crafty moms have been sewing outfits for their children out of necessity as clothing lines for children didn’t really exist (and when they did they were scaled down versions of adult clothes, not really made with the needs of kids in mind).
    I remember the most beautiful dress I had growing up was made for me in France by my grandmother’s Italian best friend, an amazing seamstress. Their idea was to use old drapes, which I was in horrified about. But the stiffness and weight of the material combined with the perfectly fitted tailoring was stunning. I was fun to wear as the skirt had lots of swing, and it had a bold pattern not seen in off the rack clothes.
    Now my daughter Sophie (12 yo) hacks her own clothing. She cuts new shapes, embellishes new designs, makes accessories such as head bands with air dry clay and found objects.
    I LOVE the idea of sustainability and up-cycling. Kids will always find a way to make clothing speak for them if we give them creative license and a glue gun.
    I would say the biggest problem for kids clothing is the ability to withstand wear for kids over 5 yo who are active. So much of Sophie’s clothing gets rips and stains before she can even outgrow it. Durable and breathable materials are needed. Also something that is overlooked in kids (and adults) fashion is that so many kids are bothered by seams and restrictive clothing. We are just starting to see clothing for special needs kids mainstreamed for ALL kids who go though this normal stage of body sensory shift.


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