Love your kids, love the planet: the best sustainable kidswear brands

John Lewis & Partners baby clothing - white floral dress, green striped t-shirt and shorts
Maggie Westhead,-Digital Editor

Good for the planet and your purse, here’s our expert advice on making your kids’ wardrobes more sustainable

If there’s an area in which sustainability definitely makes a difference, it’s kids’ clothing. According to WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), a whopping 350,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in UK landfill sites each year. So, recycling clothes (bins are available in larger Waitrose car parks) and handing things down (see our ‘wear it, love it, hand it down’ kids’ labeling) is the way forward, but making an effort to buy more sustainable brands is key too.

Shopping for sustainable clothes not only benefits the environment now but also encourages children to get into good habits early. Here are four ways to start shopping in a more mindful way for your kids. As well as leaving as little impact on the environment as possible, these are clothes that need to be soft and comfortable while withstanding park outings and tree climbing. A good starting point is our new sustainable kids’ edit which includes stylish clothing, accessories and toys. We’re sure the kids will love them too.

Buy less, buy durable

It sounds obvious, but think about the quality and about how long you can make each piece of clothing last. Can it be handed down to siblings or friends, for instance? The good news is that some simple sustainability tricks will make make managing your kids’ wardrobe easier.

‘Children’s clothes take a battering, so look for ones that will last,’ says Sarah Clayton, head of citizen behaviour change at Love Your Clothes, a campaign working to help change consumer habits around clothes. ‘Generally clothes that need less washing, drying and ironing last longer and many retailers produce children’s clothes with easy-care technology, or tougher materials to help them look good for longer – especially for school uniforms.’

Sarah recommends picking items containing polycotton and synthetic materials that drip dry, and Teflon which repels spills and releases stains easily in the wash. In other words, don’t be put off techy fabrics in your quest for going greener.

Care for your kids’ clothes properly

A little care can go a long way when it comes to increasing the longevity of children’s clothes. ‘Only wash a garment when you really have to,’ says Sarah. ‘The more you wash, the faster they may fade, stretch or even shrink. Often items like woollies or coats can be aired or spot-cleaned instead. But if washing, most detergents work brilliantly at low temperatures so set the dial to 30°C.’

And less is more with detergent – adding extra can do more harm than good as it leaves a damaging residue on clothes. Love Your Clothes’ handy care label quiz will help you identify every washing symbol out there. They also offer tips on how to remove stains (crucial with kids).

Make do and mend

A little bit of TLC and creativity goes a long way when it comes to caring for your kids’ clothes. Extending the active life of all clothing by nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30%, so it pays to get handy with a needle and thread. From sewing on a loose button to re-fashioning a T-shirt, a couple of simple tweaks and adjustments can make a huge difference. Check out the super-helpful care and repair section on Love Your Clothes. Also, be creative and have fun getting the children involved refashioning and upcycling stained or worn clothes. John Lewis & Partners’ has a huge array of craft ideas and projects you can do with the kids.

Hand-down, recycle and donate

Always think about how you can recycle your kids’ clothes once they have grown out of them by either handing down, donating or selling, but never throwing in the bin. ‘Pass on clothes to a younger sibling (or among your friends – or by donating to charity) to keep them in circulation for as long as possible,’ says Sarah. ‘Maybe let the hem down or let the waistband out. Even old children’s clothes that can no longer be worn can be recycled.’ Check out Love Your Clothes’ handy recycling locator

Four stylish sustainable kids' brands


Frugi, meaning ‘fruits of the earth’ in Latin, was founded in 2004 in Cornwall by husband and wife Lucy and Kurt Jewson. The family brand has become a firm favourite with kids and parents, thanks to its bold prints, bright colours and cute motifs. And it wears its eco credentials on its sleeve, using only sustainable materials and recycled plastic bottles to make its clothing. Interesting fact: it takes 36 recycled bottles to make one child’s raincoat.

Polarn O. Pyret

This Swedish company is more than 80 years old and started off selling handmade baby clothing. In the 1970s, a group of inspirational women, including textile designer Gunilla Axén, took over the business and it started to grow. Fast-forward to the modern day, and Polarn O. Pyret is celebrated for its vibrant retro designs and its responsible stance on sustainability. As well as using organic cotton, it focuses heavily on durability, with every garment crafted to be strong enough to pass down through at least three kids.


Hatley started life in the 1980s when husband and wife John and Alice Oldland opened a small gift shop in their hometown of North Hatley in Quebec, Canada. When they retired, their three sons took over the business, expanding it into a kidswear label. The signature bright rainwear is PVC-free, and organic cotton is used in its clothes. Hatley helps several charities too, sponsoring an orphanage in India and giving a percentage of its profits to support environmental organisations. 

John Lewis & Partners

Look out for our GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standards)-certified cotton babywear, for soft, snuggly clothes that will really last. Puddle-splashing can be sustainable too, thanks to our wellies, which are made from natural rubber rather than PVC, which can be damaging to the environment.

Main image: Polarn O. Pyret

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