Hero Products - Children’s Clothes
9 April 2017
I make no claim to a particularly enviable sense of style, and if you’ve come here for an endless stream of drool-worthy goodies, then you will find yourself sadly disappointed. However, I love products that deliver – on quality; on value for money (that sweet spot between ‘cheap’ and ‘expensive’ when the amount of dosh spent, whether big or small, is absolutely worth it); and on practicality, beauty, or ideally, both.
As three is the magic number, I will stick with that as a general rule for my ‘Hero Products’, and there’ll be a unifying theme, not always related to the raising of small children. Promise. Also, I will always make it clear if I’ve been gifted something to review, with an honest opinion guaranteed – otherwise, what’s the point?
All three of the brands below were started by parents here in the UK who spotted a gap in the market when shopping for their own kids, and went about filling it with quality design and attention to detail.
Full disclosure: the founder of Moccis, Anna Wetterlin, is a friend and fellow mum from my son’s school. However, I have been buying Moccis for my son for three years now, full-price, and without an incentive to either buy or review them. If you know exactly how much a queen of the sale/discount code I am, that alone speaks volumes about the quality of these fantastic slippers.
Hand-sewn in Sweden, these traditional Scandi moccasins have a supple, non-slip leather sole, and a breathable 85% cotton upper (with a bit of elastic to keep them on little feet). They are so soft and cosy, and come in a range of great designs – chic neutrals to wonderfully bonkers brights. From tiny babies to grown-ups (women up to size 8, and men up to size 12), they are the ideal indoor shoe, and a brilliant gift too.
On the practical side, they are seriously durable. My son’s school has an indoor shoes policy, and each pair of Moccis has lasted him a full year (they grip well and provide room for growing feet). They’ve been laundered repeatedly (40 degrees), and still look good enough to pass on to his little brother. Skellies is really tough on his shoes, so the Moccis’ claim to hard-wearing fame is justified.
Starting at £19, these are not a cheap option, but the cost per wear means they work out to exceptionally good value. Even more so when you consider their eco-friendly materials and ethical manufacturing practices. Unlike other, mass-produced versions of these slippers, they won’t need frequent replacing - no detaching soles or holey toes here!
When I mentioned practicality earlier, I wasn’t kidding. As much as it’s not the most glamorous side of shopping for kids’ clothes and shoes, labelling every item that could possibly find itself left at school or dropped in the playground is an unavoidable reality. When I think back on the hours (and I mean HOURS) my mother spent painstakingly stitching name labels into all my school uniforms, I cringe inwardly at the thought of every time I whined about going shopping for said uniforms. Luckily, times have moved on, and we have many more options on the label front. Admittedly, I do have a few friends who still sew labels onto their children’s school uniforms. These friends are masochists. And I disagree wholeheartedly with their life choices.
As my son doesn’t actually have a school uniform, I need a fast and easy way of labelling jumpers/hats/gloves that he suddenly needs when the British weather or his preference dictates. Stikins are just that. You simply order the number you require (packs start from 30 and go up to 120), and specify the name you want printed on them. They then easily stick onto clothes labels (they’re a good size for clear text, but discreet enough to not take up too much space – 30mm x 15mm), the insides of hats/gloves/shoes, or even on lunchboxes/water bottles/pencil cases. They have been tested to last 40 washes at 40 degrees, and in the dishwasher. If they do eventually fall off, it’s the work of mere seconds to stick on a new one.
But, here comes my top tip (blatantly stolen from an immensely practical friend, who is a mother of four, and therefore hugely familiar with the nightmare of lost clothing items) – you can include your phone number on them. The labels fit two lines of text, so I include both my son’s name and my number, which means there’s a much better chance of them actually being returned if found. My heart breaks when I see all the lost stuffed animals on local Facebook groups, because I know just how much trauma that loss will cause for a tiny human and their frantic parents. Skellies was given a massive Jellycat bunny before he was born, and seven years later, that increasingly tatty rabbit has been all over the world. I made sure he had a label with my number on him the first time he left the house (in his case, with international dialling code to allow for his globetrotting ways), and now every time Flea suddenly decides he’d like to bring a particular stuffed animal in his pram, I have a pack of these labels in my wallet ready to go.
This also works well if your child is too little to remember your phone number and you’re headed out to a crowded place. I simply remind Skellies to stay exactly where he is the moment he realises he’s lost us, and then show a passing mother with children his hat/jacket so she can ring my mobile. Stikins also suggests using the labels to highlight if a child has an allergy or is diabetic – genius.
At prices starting from £6.50 for 30 labels, this is a product worth its weight in gold. Whether sparing you the cost of replacing expensive clothing items, or the all-night screaming of a toddler who’s lost her favourite stuffy, they are a proper hero product.
Toby Tiger Pyjamas
The speed at which my eldest grows out of and destroys his clothes (those bony knees go through anything, whether top-quality or not), you will not find me spending millions on kids’ clothes. I love to have a few really gorgeous pieces (eBay is a winner for Polo goodies in great condition), and I’m not keen on mass-market brands with really exploitative manufacturing practices, but I tend to tread a middle ground for the everyday items rather than spending my life stressing over grass stains and ripped knees.
However, finding a great UK brand that ticks all the boxes for comfortable, breathable (100% cotton), hard-wearing and beautifully-designed clothes is always cause for shopping joy. And, in this case, the purchase of what can only be described as the world’s cutest pyjamas.
Toby Tiger was started by mother-of-two Zoe Mellow in Brighton almost 20 years ago, and is well-established as a fabulous collection of organic, colourful, UK-produced clothes for kids up to age six. The designs are bright and fun, without being twee.
I first saw Toby Tiger’s designs at the Mary Howard Christmas Fair last year, and my mother very quickly purchased these pyjamas for her two-year-old grandson. They are unbelievably soft, even after repeated washing, and they are generously-sized without being absurdly large - Flea is in a 2-3, and will get at least a year’s comfortable wear out of them. While they are super-cosy, they are also light and breathable, which is especially important for little humans at night. And, of course, the design couldn’t be dreamier.
As with many smaller manufacturers, they aren’t ‘cheap’ (can you tell how much I dislike that word?), but I would say they compare favourably to clothes of similar, if not quite as high, quality from larger UK brands. They were £28.99, and in terms of cost-per-wear, they have already earned their keep in the four months that Flea has been wearing them (they are his favourites!) While he has quite a comprehensive selection of hand-me-downs from his brother, I’ll certainly be back to Toby Tiger’s website for any gorgeous yet practical items missing from his summer wardrobe.