Although the baby and children’s fashion industry has also experienced a very unpredictable period, there are still a multitude of positive developments within this industry. For example, some children’s fashion brands have successfully realised international growth and sustainable production is now increasingly becoming the norm.
The power of storytelling
Originality is at the foundation of the sustainable Swedish children’s fashion brand Mini Rodini. Creative Director Cassandra Rhodin founded the brand back in 2006 and focussed on diversity as an important value. Much of the clothing is unisex. “Cassandra draws the prints herself, designs the collection, comes up with the storytelling concept behind the designs, shoots most of the photographs and has created the entire Mini Rodini universe”, Catherina Barnard, PR Manager at Mini Rodini, informs FashionUnited in writing. Mini Rodini is currently being sold by 350 retailers across the world, the brand stores in Stockholm and London and the [international] webshop. “We work with retailers who understand our brand and who can add value to our brand – and it’s obviously fantastic if they’re strong in e-commerce too. Our retailers care about responsibly produced clothing and truly love our brand.”
In addition to four fashion collections, Mini Rodini also launches approximately two small upcycling collections every year and, on average, one ‘co-lab-collection’, in collaboration with another company, like the Veja sneaker brand, to name but one. “We exclusively work with partners who can realise our standard of responsible production”, Barnard tells us about this strategy. “As was the case with the collaboration with Sea Shepherd, an international, non-profit marine preservation organisation which Cassandra was eager to support. Another example: as a child she wore Adidas shoes by Stan Smith, so when Adidas Original approached her for a collaboration, she absolutely loved the idea and we said yes.” Barnard refers to this strategy as a fantastic way of meeting new customers and creating strong collections and stories. “We make sure we maintain control over the creative process, as this is what’s in our DNA.”
Focus on sustainable production
Mini Rodini can look forward to a bright future, with a large international fan base to build on. “Wherever we go, we find that our clothing and values are very attractive to modern, conscious parents across the world. So it’s simply a matter of continuing with what we’re doing and increasing our brand awareness”, Barnard concludes. The fact that the focus on sustainable production is a true golden formula is also apparent from the Dutch brand Little Indians’ success story. Founder Vanessa Erasmus told FashionUnited during a telephone interview that she was part of the target audience herself when she launched the brand in 2014: “I follow my own taste and go looking for the softest fabrics, like organic cotton. At the time sustainable fashion was still considered drab, but that’s definitely no longer the case now. I want to use Little Indians to demonstrate that you can produce responsibly without compromising on design.”
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, Erasmus started off working from home. The brand was off to a flying start: Little Indians had 75 shops within a month and requests were even coming in from America. “The growth stabilised after a little while. I held off working with local sales agents for as long as I could, as I wanted to make sure I first had all the processes exactly as I wanted them. Selling is one thing, but there’s a great deal more to running a successful business. Steady growth is much better than growing too fast.” Little Indians is now active in 25 countries. Erasmus works with agents in Belgium, Spain, Italy and, from the start of next season, in Germany too. She is now also in talks with an agent from Taiwan.
From fashion to lifestyle
It’s quite remarkable that Little Indians managed to significantly expand its range during the corona period and is now increasingly becoming the lifestyle brand which Erasmus has been aiming for from the very start. In addition to the fashion collections – two every year, around a certain theme – the brand also launches interim drops with matching products. This includes accessories like water shoes and sunglasses in summer, a newborn collection and the back to school collection with backpacks. “This means we can now be found in a variety of different places, from children’s boutiques to bag shops and even large supermarkets. I still often visit customers to ask what does and doesn’t work and I subsequently incorporate their comments in the collection. One specific highlight is that we opened our very first own shop last March in Westfield Mall of The Netherlands in Leidschendam, where we can really show off our brand identity. I would never have been able to predict how much I would have achieved at the start of this corona crisis!”