The rise of the upper hand-me-down

The appetite for pre-loved clothes has never been greater, with a thredUP report from last year predicting that the market could overtake fast fashion by the end of the decade. And now children’s clothing is part of the trend. Passing clothes on from child to child is nothing new – even royal offspring are usually seen in outfits that once belonged to other family members. But the hand-me-down is acquiring a cachet with the rise of sustainable fashion and new brands of children’s clothing aimed at moving to a circular economy.

Children’s clock, a peer-to-peer platform that allows parents to buy and sell clothes that their children have grown too old, grew out of frustration with the current supply of second-hand children’s clothing. When France-born, London-based Laura Roso Vidrequin launched the website last year, she was balancing the business with her day-to-day work as a senior buyer at Harvey Nichols and didn’t want it to be a side project. But the high levels of traffic caused her to quit her job to work full time at the company. “Resale is now part of our daily life,” she says.

From left to right, a tunic dress with flippy skirt, a vintage Laura Ashley dress and a vintage smocked dress, all by Wolf & Mabel © Anna-Louise Plumb

Parents can either list the parts themselves or have their items picked up by the team, who will also handle downloads and sales. Vidrequin’s style is fed by the refined look of the site, which features high-end pieces such as Fendi and Chloé babygrows (from £ 35) alongside high-quality brands like Zara, and features modifications from parents. , including Leandra Medine Cohen, founder of Man Répulsif. Children’s clothing collective, which launched in 2018 and now has a franchise in the London flagship of Selfridges, is teaming up similarly with stylish parents such as Hannah Strafford-Taylor and Pearl Lowe, whose pre-loved children’s pieces are available on purchase via their editions (from £ 18).

Kids O'Clock's A / W '20 Edit

Kids O’Clock’s A / W ’20 edit © Claire Guarry

Kids O'Clock filmed their A / W '20 edit in San Francisco

Kids O’Clock shot their A / W ’20 edit in San Francisco © Claire Guarry

Kids O'Clock A / W '20

Kids O’Clock a / w ’20 © Claire Guarry

Rental is another fast growing segment of the children’s clothing market. Clothing rental business My wardrobe HQ, which launched a children’s clothing division last September, is the first European marketplace to offer both rental and resale of luxury children’s clothing. Parents can rent designer pieces from chi-chi children’s clothing brands such as Caramel and Bonpoint from around £ 4 a day, and keep the pieces they like – a service they describe as a sort of ‘try before you buy’. The offer ranges from second-hand pieces such as a Marie-Chantal salmon pink tulle dress and a sky blue lace-trimmed organza silk dress (from £ 7 a day), to more casual offers like a V- Gucci boy embroidered with bee. collared sweater (available to purchase for £ 108). Brand Consultant and Creative Director Sadie Mantovani promises sticky chocolate smears and grass stains are removed by the company’s green cleaning process between rentals. “When we go shopping we touch all the clothes and the rods, whereas the moment you receive an item from us it’s cleaner and safer than ever,” she says.

Vintage 1960s dresses from St Michael and Chilprufe, available at Wolf & Mabel

Vintage 1960s dresses from St Michael and Chilprufe, available at Wolf & Mabel © Anna-Louise Plumb

It’s not just contemporary brands that are developing the resale market – vintage children’s clothing is also experiencing a renaissance. “The kids are dressed pretty even today and there aren’t a lot of colors so people appreciate our selection,” says Hertfordshire-based Anna-Louise Plumb, whose vintage online shop Wolf and Mabel offers an assortment of children’s clothing from the 1930s to early 1980s. The site, which launched in 2019 at the back of a popular Instagram store, is a treasure trove of Peter Pan collar wool coats, shirts ’80s sailor and rare archive Laura Ashley and St Michael’s Prairie dresses. All clothes are washed and quality checked, and all small repairs are done by Plumb’s mother. “You can see – especially with the St Michael pieces which were made in Britain just before the outsourcing started – the amount of detail that was common at the time, the wide hems that allow a dress to fit. Hang well from fabric-covered buttons and concealed zippers, ”says Sonder. “You just can’t find that quality on the streets today.”


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