The appetite for gender neutral clothing isn’t just limited to clothes for adults, it has trickled down to the youth market, thanks to inspirational Tumblr’s like Deinundead.tumblr.com, and now it has moved into kidswear.
Gender neutral clothing made its mark this season with established retail brands creating A/W 15/16 offerings with elongated silhouettes, which can be worn as a top or layering dress, depending on the wearer. Now emerging brands are not just adapting to make genderless clothing, they are creating their entire brands around that ethos. One such company is Mooi Kind, and WGSN’s Erin Rechner caught up with them to find out more.
Explain your brand and the ideals behind it. What is your mission as a designer?
Mooi Kind (moy kint) is a Dutch term that, literally, translates to “Beautiful Child,” and is the primary basis of the brand. Borrowing from the minimalist aesthetic prominent in NW Europe, I wanted to pay respect by using a native language (plus, I liked the way it looked, sounded, and thought it’d require follow-up questions).
The brand keeps things simple, focusing on function and utility over flash and frill. We’ve been growing so fast, and so consistently, that I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep that up. Our current sales have reached 4 continents and over a dozen countries, in less than a year.
We’ve kept versatility at the forefront, trying to make all parents comfortable putting their child, regardless of gender, in our clothes. As we grow, we’re trying to evolve into a truly gender-neutral clothing line. We don’t want to just make it ‘ok’ for girls to wear boys clothes (although we don’t see anything wrong with that). We want to create garments that are truly gender non-specific. The mission statement of Mooi Kind is: providing children the freedom to define themselves. That is a mantra we live, design, and create by.
What inspired you to veer towards genderless clothing for kids? There is a lot happening in the world of gender from kidswear to adults, especially in the U.S. with the coming out of Caitlyn Jenner as a huge celebrity icon as well as Jaden Smith, Cara Delevingne and Miley Cyrus, also embracing gender fluidity.
My interest in veering toward genderless clothing came from a couple different places. Aesthetically, I’ve always opposed the stereotypes associated with children’s clothing. Walking into stores, it was like those stereotypes would smack you in the face with their blatancy. Being a new father, it went from unappealing to off-putting when shopping for my son. Additionally, from a practical standpoint, being able to pass clothes down, or share clothes, between any children, just seemed to make sense. When it came time to design and make for him, I had to stay true to my feelings on children’s clothes.
Do you foresee genderless kidswear growing as a whole and do you think there will be a day where kids can be kids without “girl and boy” ideals?
I definitely see the genderless trend growing. Mooi Kind has had sales across the world so far; from Australia to Germany to South Africa to Britain and others. There are other brands seemingly making the same move toward versatile, and genderless, clothing. There have even been celebrities embracing the trend, with Ellen Degeneres’s recent Back-to-school collection with Gap Kids. I’m definitely hoping the trend continues but I’m not sure if we’ll ever see it completely embraced. As a boy, I grew up playing with both GI Joe’s and Cabbage Patch Kids (asked for on my Christmas/Birthday lists). I remember dressing up as Barbie & The Rockers with my cousins when I wasn’t playing basketball. Exploring those things made me comfortable in who I am. It made me appreciate everything more. The general concerns that people who strictly abide by gender roles never happened to me. Hopefully we, collectively, progress to the point of allowing people to be people, and children to grow into whomever they want to be.
Q: You have moved around a bit and ended up back in Cleveland, Ohio, It’s been coined “the new Brooklyn” lately by the media and residents, how do u feel about that and do u see Cleveland being transformed into a key city for designers and creatives?
A:I’ve definitely noticed a large growth of artisans, creatives, designers and makers in Cleveland over the past decade. The range of products made is vast, and seems to be spread throughout the city by a multitude of people. As more and more people embrace a creative lifestyle, and the world gets smaller and smaller because of technology, I definitely see the “maker” community growing. From a purely numbers standpoint, I don’t see Cleveland reaching the status of a Brooklyn, although I wouldn’t mind if it did!
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