The time has come for me to write my bi-annual two-part feature on clothes. My ideal is to get the bulk from the high street and them complement that with some key additions that I research and pick.
We are luckier than ever with choice these days. There is so much on offer. Too much. As a parent you already know that your kids grow out of things within months, sometimes weeks, so investment pieces have to be hand-me-down options wherever possible. You can't be frivolous and who wants to be anyway? There are key themes emerging this season too with fairtrade, organic and British really making their mark on the childrenswear market.
This year is Alexander's first at 'school'. He has a uniform and yet he is only just two! So very cute and so very expensive! So, in his free time what is he going to wear?
Let's start right at the beginning (or the end of the day, as it happens) with pyjamas. Now, I was brought up in quality pyjamas, ones from Switzerland that we bought in the sales in a small handkerchief shop in St Moritz year after year and whose quality has stood the test of time as I still wear them twenty-five years on! Pixie Dixie, a British company established in 2006 fits the bill perfectly. Made from the softest jersey cotton, they offer amazing quality and comfort and feature gorgeous iconic designs like the Black Taxi, London Bus and these ones pictured that Alexander looks so gorgeous in! Buy a larger size and they will last many, many years.
Moving on because you can't lounge about in pyjamas all day, another gorgeous brand that has come to my attention is Frugi - Latin for 'fruits of the earth'. This organic, ethically manufactured label was set up by a husband and wife team in 2004 when they couldn't find the right sized clothing to fit their new baby with his cloth nappies, so they decided to make their own, as you do! The brand's mission statement to be 'the most desirable and trusted on the planet' can be seen in the way they buy organic cotton, produce in ethical factories, paying proper wages for working sensible hours. So, every piece of Frugi that you own does a little bit of good! In fact, everything about Frugi says 'happiness'. From the staff to the clothes that they produce. Check out the fun designs. They also do feeding tops for mums and the quality again is superb; soft, strong, sumptuous fabrics that wear well. The blue stripy jumper below is reversible and ultra-cosy too!
Next up on my list of favourites is Marmelade and Mash; a quintessentially British, designer childrenswear brand, created by London College of Fashion graduate, Naomi Langford-Archer. Her goal, to create a brand that is quirky yet nostalgic, fun, timeless and comfortable can be seen in the beautifully made Hugo Green Checked Shirt on the left - fuss free, concentrating on lines, style and proportion, the collarless design is classic yet retro. The fabric is luxurious and the striking print elevates it beyond simple shirt status!
Immink is my next pick. Designed and manufactured in Norfolk, you can't get closer to home than this. 100% organic cotton, either strong yet comfortable twill or the amazingly soft jersey. In their words, 'each piece is a hand me down in waiting....to be loved and worn and loved again.' Such a far cry from our world of throwaway fashion and bringing the feelgood factor back into shopping. These clothes are built to last, with designs that are wearable and easy to layer for year round use; simple and of the highest quality. I love the Duck Print T- Shirt and the Hoodie, practical and gorgeous and teamed with the Twill trousers, designed to just pull on and go.
There are two European brands had to feature this season. The first is a very well-known french brand - Catimini. A brand that has stood the test of time over thirty-five years, in fact it all began the year I was born ( 1972 if you must know!). Serving the luxury market, for the most discerning parents. Each piece shows the passion for childrenswear design, playful gorgeous and ultra-cool. My top choices being two stunning pairs of coloured jeans, one in grey and the other in dark red. Both fully-lined with turn-ups- the attention to detail is second to none and again the quality cannot be beaten. If you are looking for a very cool pair of jeans for 'best' or for whenever as they just look so good you want your little one showing them off every day, then take your pick!
To outerwear. No well-dressed child in the UK can be without the warmest of warm coat. Something that is durable yet easy to wear to the park for some serious play. If you are looking for the best of the best then Danish brand Mini a Ture knows exactly how to do stylish outerwear for the coldest of weather. Once you get your little one in one of these, you will never look back. A coat come anorak with a cleverly concealed toggle to cinch in the waist, a cosy, removable hood, useful pockets. Warm, waterproof, breathable and with a thermolite interlining and a fleece inner lining, I almost can't wait for the snow. Their sizing is generous so fingers crossed this one will fit for quite a while!
Last but by no means least, I would like to mention yet another British brand - Snuguns. Think cosy hands and feet. Designed and developed by mum Nicola Kurtz, her initial idea being to design some mittens that her two year old wouldn't pull off. Very cute designs with silicone print for grip they really do the job. Mittens allow warmth to circulate keeping little fingers warmer. Her Grippa Socks, which are now Alexander's slipper of choice came to her as an idea whilst recovering from foot surgery. It is so easy to damage little feet with badly-fitting shoes. The Grippa Socks have silicone mesh soles for grip but most importantly a fold-down, elasticated support band that fits around the ankle, thus supporting it. These couldn't have been more than I wanted. Alexander is hypermobile which means that his joints bend more than they should. Angle support is exactly what the paediatrician ordered, so he stay cosy and supported even indoors!