My life is more and more kid-adjacent these days. I have a new niece and most of my friends have young children now. But without kids of my own, I don’t always pay a lot of attention to what’s happening in the kids’ product market. That’s why I haven’t written a dedicated post on sustainable kids’ clothes until now.
That being said, I do have a background in thrift shop management. That gives me more brand awareness than many. And it has also shown me which kids’ clothes brands last, and which ones aren’t worth buying.
The Ethics of Kids’ Clothes
Like any other consumer good, the supply chain for kids’ clothes contains numerous kinds of exploitation. Companies like The Children’s Place have been involved in numerous factory complaints, including one just last year.
They also failed to pay for already-produced orders in 2020. Big box stores like Walmart and TJ Maxx, and department stores like JC Penney and Kohls, have also been implicated in failures to pay their garment workers for abruptly-cancelled orders.
When it comes to shopping for kids, a balance needs to be struck between many factors. It’s not as accessible as shopping for adult clothing, because kids grow!
With that in mind, price becomes a really significant factor. I suspect that’s why so many people shop über-cheap brands like Old Navy. But it’s also great to look for quality items that can be handed down to younger kids when the time comes.
In this post, I’m sharing a range of brands and options that factor in:
- Labor Ethics
- Sustainable Fibers
- Quality of goods
- Price Point
Parents and caregivers already know how to find clothes for their kids from a variety of sources. But just in case you haven’t thought about it, I definitely recommend a few platforms to discover hand-me-downs…
- Buy Nothing Project: The Buy Nothing Project has a mission to build community through the sharing economy. Volunteers organize towns into Facebook groups by geographical neighborhood (with care to ensure that class and racial diversities are represented in each group). Members then ask for and offer items to one another at no charge. You can find your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook, or learn more here.
- Ebay and Poshmark Lots: You can shop reduced-price secondhand clothing sold in bulk (or lots) on sites like Ebay and Poshmark. Sellers often organize by size, brand, color, and style.
- Thredup: Thredup has a virtually limitless inventory of secondhand kids’ clothing and accessories. You can shop by brand, style, material, condition, size, and more. Learn more about how I shop Thredup here.
- Local thrift shops and community groups: Local thrift shops can be a great place to find quality kids’ clothes. Also make sure to check local ads and flyer boards for swap meets organized by nonprofits, neighborhoods, and religious organizations.
5 Places to Buy Sustainable and Ethical Kids’ Clothes
If you need to shop new, I also have some recommendations. As in all things ethical and sustainable fashion, there is no perfect solution. But there are many ways to shop a little bit better…
This post contains affiliate links
1 | PACT Apparel
PACT is first on the list because they sell organic, fair trade clothing for babies and kids with a B-Corp certification and reasonable pricing. I own several adult clothing items from PACT and can attest to the high quality. These are items that can definitely be passed down.
2 | Hanna Andersson
Hanna Andersson was a fan favorite at the thrift shop I managed. Extraordinary quality and very cute, this brand uses organic cotton in most of their products and claims that they offer fair wages. I mention them here because their clothing holds up very well and can easily be handed down.