Before Theo was born, I did zero research on baby clothes. I was too focused on the birth to think much about what came afterwards, other than having the nursery set up. Plus, since I didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, I didn’t want to waste a lot of time researching clothing we may never need.
We received a lot of clothes at our baby shower, and so those are the things that Theo wore for the first few months of his life. Then I started shopping at some of the popular big baby stores, but I wasn’t happy with the quality or the styles. Also, Elie and I have been consciously changing our buying habits to (1) buy less and (2) seek out ethical brands who ensure good working conditions, fair wages and have a sustainable mission. It’s not necessarily easy (or inexpensive) to shops this way, and so we can’t meet that standard for all purchases. But, every thoughtful purchase counts.
I started seeking out smaller clothing brands offering ethically-produced baby clothes, often also made with organic fabrics and/or with environmentally conscious sourcing and manufacturing practices. Many of these companies are women-owned. Many are designed and produced in North America. And many of these companies give back to causes they believe in.
If you start researching the ethically-produced baby and child clothing market, you will find a lot to choose from, in all price ranges. These are ones I have purchased from so far, ones with styles I love. I tend to dress Theo in comfortable clothes he can lounge and play in, clothes that are easy to get on and off (because dressing and undressing are, evidently, the highest form of torture, next to diaper changes and washing his hands and face before and after dinner). I like soft fabrics and easy, casual styles. Theo is all boy, and inevitably, by the end of the day he is covered in dirt and sand and raspberry juice. I try to buy clothing in color palettes that can be mixed-and-matched between brands. Some of the items are a little more expensive, but I made the decision to trade quality and ethics for quantity.
Here are my favorite ethical brands for toddlers. Obviously, I’m buying for a boy, but they all have great girl styles as well.
I love the Carly Megan designs for boys, simple but with a little whimsy, like those adorable gingham shorts (pictured above), which are one of my favorites for Theo. All of her clothing is handcrafted locally and ethically in Los Angeles from high quality remnant fabric. I find that the clothes run true-to-size, so if you want your son to wear his t-shirts a little longer, you may want to size up.
Chasing Windmills Kids pajamas and playware are all made in North Carolina from ethically sourced merino wool from New Zealand and Australia. They partner with a worker-owned factory in North Carolina called Opportunity Threads that’s helping to revitalize the textiles industry in the south. Chasing Windmills Kids also purchases carbon offsets to ensure that renewable energy projects and methane-capture projects offset their environmental impact. But most importantly, their merino wool pj’s are so soft, with subtle modern prints. If you don’t know much about merino wool and it’s benefits, you can read about it here. We also have one of their tees, but Theo wears it so much, it’s too stained to photograph. That’s how much we love Chasing Windmills Kids.
I love the story behind this husband and wife-owned brand of baby and toddler clothing. All of their pieces are made in America from fabrics milled in the United States. Childhoods Clothing has rompers, sweats and sweatshirts in stylish, modern designs. We have a lot of their pieces, and I especially love their adorable rompers.
I love Everlane clothes for myself, and I was thrilled when they launched a kids division, with sizes 2T and up. They only have a few basics for kids right now, but I love their hoodies for Theo. All Everlane products are made at ethical factories, from the finest materials, and sold without traditional markups. Their philosophy is that customers should know the true cost of production.
I love the Mini Mioche jeans and tee shirts. In fact, most of Theo’s basics come from this woman-owned Canadian brand, because most of the pieces are quite affordable. They are based in Toronto, with all clothing made from start to finish in Canada. Fabrics are knit from premium GOTS certified organic cotton yarn; dyed using low-impact, non-toxic, re-usable dyes; and all people making Mini Mioche clothing are paid a fair wage and are treated well. You can also find a curated selection of shoes, outerwear and accessories.
Rylee + Cru is a children’s clothing line founded by an illustrator and a mama who uses her talent to design whimsical pieces with a soft, vintage feel. The pieces are made in the United States and they feel easy enough to wear on a daily basis–and not worry about dirt and grime–but special enough to place in Theo’s heirloom trunk and hold on to. I find they run a little bit bigger, which is great for being able to wear them longer.
An Australia-based company, Sapling Organic uses 100% GOTS certified organic cotton for all of their clothing, with fair trade manufacturing in India. I love their sweet fabric designs, childlike but not too cutesy, and really soft.
Softsie makes my other favorite pajamas for winter! My only complaint is that they don’t come in adult sizes. This company was started by a mama as a solution to her baby’s eczema. The cotton jersey fleece pajamas (47% modal, 47% cotton, and 6% lycra) are infused with organic and fragrance-free aloe vera, jojoba oil, and Vitamin E. Even if your child doesn’t have eczema (Theo doesn’t) they are great for keeping skin moisturized from heating and cooling. Plus, they’re really cute, and they are made in the United States. Softsie also partners with the Pay it Forward Fertility Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers grants and financial assistance to couples who otherwise would not be able to afford fertility treatments, certainly something near to our hearts.
Launched by a mother-daughter team, Thimble Collection has adorable designs. The clothing is made from soft fabrics and is hand-crafted in the United States by mothers and grandmothers who work from home, so they can spend more time with their families while still earning income. I love their story, and these overalls are one of my all-time favorite outfits on Theo.
Another woman-owned Canadian brand, based in Vancouver. Vonbon features trendy designs made from really soft certified organic fabrics using only eco-passport non-toxic inks. You’ll find things like harem pants, comfortable tees, rompers and hats. Vonbon is great for stylish, hip babies.
I hope these help you in your search for ethically made, stylish and affordable-ish toddler clothing. What are your favorite ethically-made brands for toddlers?
P.S. I had this post saved in my drafts folder for the longest time, because I kept thinking I would take photos of Theo in each designer. Ha! Instead, here are some quick flatlays, taken during nap time.