As a mom to a boy, I’ve always envied my friends with daughters for only 1 reason – having fun dressing them up! While it’s great playing ‘dress up’ with these real dolls; it also means a large wardrobe of clothes, accessories and shoes which your toddler will outgrow sooner that you know it. I’m sure all toddler parents have experienced that ‘It’s been worn only once’ moment many a times and unfortunately, we still keep adding new to the wardrobe and throwing away the old.
In today’s world of ‘fast fashion’, the industry is ‘the second biggest consumer of water and is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions – more that all international flights and maritime shipping combined.’ Recently, at the UN Environment Assembly, the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion was launched to put an end to environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion. With all this information readily available to us, it is actually up to US – The Consumers to decide how environment friendly we choose to be in our consumption of fashion.
About Priya and Darlinks
Let me introduce you my friend to Priya Daniel, an architect and interior designer who endorses green architecture at her firm in Singapore. While she does many interesting things in her free time, the one that caught my attention was her venture DARLINKS – Love. SHARE. Live. A mother to 3-year-old now, in the last 2.5 years Priya has bought almost no new clothes for her daughter – she simply redesigns her clothes to fit her little one since she was 7 months old!
Sustainability is a cause very close to Priya’s heart and she tries to incorporate it in all that she does. So, it’s no surprise when she tells me, “This realisation of the excesses in my own wardrobe and that of my daughter’s at the time, sent me on a journey to find a minimalist, meaningful, practical yet fashionable, versatile and an accessible solution – a less cluttered and combined wardrobe!” What started off as a personal endeavour to be a conscious fashion consumer has now become a full grown venture, where Priya helps other parents redesign their clothes so that they are able to share outfits with their little ones. While Darlinks has been undertaking commissioned projects, Priya has now launched a retail platform (hot off the press here!) with clothes that are designed for parent and child, so you’re ‘linked to your darling’ forever.
While ‘it’s good for the planet’ is reason enough, one cannot ignore the fact that sharing a wardrobe can be a lot of fun. For Priya and her daughter Nayla, designing sessions equate to ‘daily play activity’ – the little one enjoys the dressing up and modeling and over the years has also learnt to be patient as her mother tries all the different tricks up her sleeve. Initially, Priya would redesign her old clothes for Nayla by sewing them; now she just uses ties and other accessories so that the garment can be used by both! This when it comes to travelling is a blessing she says, “We always end up travelling super light! She wears something of mine on day one and after a wash; I wear it on day three.” Of course, they do buy new clothes once in a while; their fashion mileage mantra being ‘don’t buy anything unless you are going to be using it more than 30 times.’
Tips to follow when creating DIY looks or DARLINKING
1. Choosing the Garment
* Ensure that the material is comfortable and safe for the child; avoid using net and synthetic materials.
* Remember, your child is going to be playing in these clothes hence it should not be a very delicate materials either.
* Choose seamless patterns, easier to design the outfit the way you would like to.
* When buying new clothes, get colours and prints that are suited for both you and your child.
2. Accessories to Use
* Avoid using safety pins, binding clips or other sharp objects when creating a look. It is not safe for the child.
* Preferably use ribbons, shoelaces or hair tiers to hold the garment in place.
3. Designed ‘properly’
Your child will be jumping, climbing, running and doing much more in these clothes; you have to make sure that the garment is well secured for uninterrupted play and comfort. Try out new looks at home and check their practicality before you step outdoors.
4. Playtime Activity
Don’t expect your child to be patient like a professional model on day one. Like every other thing, you have to make this a fun activity for your child and over time she will learn to stand still for you. Use these sessions for parent and child bonding; if your kid enjoys it, you will be able to unleash your creativity without worrying about them running off midway through a creation.
5. Time Taken
While it eventually saves time and gives you flexibility with outfits, the initial phase will be a bit time consuming. Set aside time to choose the outfit you want to design and think of how you want to do it. Do the preparatory work before you get your child involved. It means that you have to be equally patient with the process. Once you’ve done a few times, it gets much faster!
As you head off to explore the possibilities…
Whitney Houston said, “I believe children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way…” As Priya puts it, the most important part of all this Darlinking is that it helps her daughter distinguish between ‘want’ and ‘need’. If we can change our consumer attitudes and teach our children how to be more conscious consumers; it is one less battle to fight for Planet Earth. “A happy closet is one that is living and giving all the time.” said Priya. I say let’s ‘give’ our clothes to our children, and let our planet live.
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