Bristol based Belles and Babes have created a new concept that may help to change a (quite literally) fast growing problem in fashion.
Offering a zero-waste solution to maternity and baby clothing, Belles and Babes are encouraging parents to hire good quality, sustainable clothing instead of buying new.
“I’m really interested in the idea of the circular economy and renting baby and maternity clothing, rather than buying, just seemed to make sense, as we don’t need them for very long”, explains Emma Gillespie, founder of Belles and Babes.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own business and really wanted to do something which would draw on my background in sustainability”, continues Emma, who worked in sustainable development and strategy previously to starting her own brand.
“I’ve just launched an Organic Baby Clothing Subscription where parents receive a bundle of clothes for their baby which we will replace as they grow. We all find the amount of choice (of babywear) overwhelming and also don’t have the space to store all the clothes with the baby growing so quickly”.
As consumers, we are now starting to consider what we are buying and whether it’s organic and sustainable, we are questioning if we really need the item in our lives. This is just amazing considering where we were with mass consuming, fast fashion, only a few years ago. However, as a parent, it is quite difficult to not keep buying new clothes for babies and children, who selfishly, just keep growing!
The adorable Belles and Babes organic baby bundles feature basics including babygros, bodysuits, jumpsuits and super soft two-piece outfits, with contemporary prints of kawaii pandas, unicorns and stripes often in non-gender specific colours; all lovingly sourced from UK based fashion brands.
“I chose the brands based on the quality and style of the clothes as well as their approach to sustainability”, explains Emma, “the clothes are not only organic, which is the softest and kindest to delicate baby skin, but they all do their best to ensure that they are sourced responsibly and that the factories in their supply chains have safe and fair working conditions”.
Keeping on the sustainable theme, Belles and Babes also make any repairs they can and when the clothes are finally too worn to reuse they will be upcycled or recycled to reduce waste.
The idea to hire your baby clothes seems practical enough, but is it really easier, in this fast-paced world, to order a bundle of baby clothes than personally hand picking the items yourself? How does it work at Belles and Babes?
“I can customise your bundle based on your preferences, for example some people want a girl’s bundle without too much pink, which I can understand!” says Emma, “I think the real differentiator is the quality and style of the clothing, for example just one babygro from Baby Mori (one of our suppliers) costs £29.50 to buy new, but you are getting 18 items of clothing, in excellent new or nearly new condition, for a monthly price of £40! There is no need to rush to the shops or deal with storing or selling on the outgrown clothes, we take all of that hassle away by doing that for you”.
What about pregnancy? A woman’s body will keep expanding quite quickly, and try as you might to stay sustainable or indeed thrifty, as an expectant mother, you are going to need new clothes, new clothes that you are probably never going to wear again after that bundle of joy arrives.
Belles and Babes don’t just stop at kitting out your little ones, their maternity subscription offers a capsule wardrobe which grows with you. Featuring maternity basics from t-shirts, jeans to dresses, each collection is uniquely tailored to suit each person, with the option to send back and swap garments at any time. Pregnancy is hard work on its own without the anxiety of shopping for this new, unfamiliar body shape you have acquired.
Belles and Babes also offer a special occasion appointment service for both mothers and babies who are based in Bristol, for those of you going to one off events, like a wedding.
“I come to you, which makes it a really easy and convenient option rather than having to trawl the shops or internet. At your appointment you choose your favourite outfit and keep it for a week before I collect it and you don’t even need to wash it, so it’s completely hassle free!”.
Working from her home office in North Bristol, Emma has dreams to expand to an office space and even a factory, manufacturing her own clothing and supporting the local community with jobs and keeping valuable skills in the UK.
“I have so many ideas that I’m struggling to restrain myself!”, laughs Emma, “I want to launch some new products, which I am currently researching, but I have a baby due in October so I am focussing on spreading the word about the organic baby clothing subscription, that is what I am most passionate about!”.
Find out more about hiring maternity and babywear at Belles and Babes
Read our Fashion Editor Emma’s blog No Debutante