The dilemma is familiar to new parents the world over — what to do with garments when your newborn is growing at the rate of knots? Children tend to grow many sizes in their first few years, which means an entirely new wardrobe pretty much every few months.
Enter – expandable clothing. No, not to be confused with the Y2K craze that was ‘bubble shirts’ (though they are somewhat similar aesthetically), expandable clothing is designed to grow comfortably along with kids through the ages of anywhere from 6 months to 3 years old. Ryan Yasin, a Master’s design student in London, was inspired to come up with a solution to the problem of the short life-cycle of kids’ clothing when he gifted his nephew an item he outgrew before he even got a chance to wear it.
With a background in aeronautical engineering, Yasin took inspiration from the shape of nano-satellites to influence his design. Using pleated synthetic fabric, he stitched together a prototype that could stretch in two directions, and tested it on his own niece and nephew, one a baby and one a toddler, and found it fit them both equally well. He soon began developing Petit Pli, a line of gender-neutral, water and wind-resistant outerwear for little ones.
The upsides are almost too numerous to count — the longevity of the pieces means a reduction in consumption, manufacturing, and transportation, meaning less of an overall environmental impact; the folds in the fabric are downward-facing, meaning rain and food slide right off, keeping the pieces clean; they can be packed to fit in parents’ pockets; and because they’re made of just one material rather than a blend like most garments, they’re also recyclable. They also hold their shape as the child grows. Petit Pli hopes to soon expand its range of garments beyond outerwear.
Yasin is optimistic about the potential benefits, “I believe new parents and young children are both at a stage in their lives where they are open to learning and absorbing new information — could Petit Pli instil a message that fast fashion is unnecessary and longevity is key? I really do hope so.”
It’s worth noting though — this is not exactly a brand-new innovation. A user on Facebook, Elizabeth Hopta commented, “He didn’t invent these. I’ve had this exact type of clothing in my drawer since I was a kid. You can buy them on any street in China.” Perhaps there’s no such thing as a completely original idea, but bringing such garments, original or not, up to date and to a wider audience, seems like a win for sustainable fashion, as well as new parents everywhere.