Charlotte Olthoff - co founder KiND - was recently interviewed by Anel van der Merwe from lifestyle brand Alexa and Lily about the importance of slow fashion and being mindful about purchasing.
We'd like to share a few highlights from the interview.
Anel: When did you start your company and why?
Charlotte: Mieke and I started KiND in August 2018. As new moms we were always on the hunt for nice organic kids and baby wear for our own boys. And because we couldn’t find it in SA we found ourselves bringing everything in from Europe. James, my son, was often called ‘the best dressed kid in the park’ and that made me realize: that other moms really seem to like his outfits who are clean and simple without any big logos or other status symbols. We accidentally found a gap in the market and a need for nice and basic organic apparel for youngsters in South Africa and people love it.
Anel: What are your dreams for KiND?
Charlotte: We want KiND to be THE GO-TO BRAND if you are looking for awesome European style baby and kids clothing, that is produced in an environmentally friendly way.
Anel: Can you explain in a nutshell to the customer who is new to this - why should we be buying organic cotton instead of “normal” cotton clothing?
Charlotte: Organic cotton is cotton produced without using insecticides, pesticides and toxic dyes. It’s safer for baby and kids skin. And it is way better for the environment than traditionally produced cotton.
Anel: What do you think about Fast Fashion and how it impacts us as consumers as well as the environment?
Charlotte: Back in the days we would only buy good quality clothes, about twice a year. If clothes where damaged we had them repaired. Today, we go to fast fashion chains (I won’t mention any names, but everyone probably knows who I refer too) who renew their collections on a weekly basis. A dress costs only a few Rands, and because you don’t pay much for it, it is a low quality garment and you don’t mind throwing it away very easily.
The impact of fast fashion on our environment is so high, but the big stores don’t mind how clothes are produced, as long as they are cheap. They also don’t care about the suffering of the people who make them. The seamstresses in Bangladesh and other developing countries often only earn a few dollars per month and work under horrible circumstances. Additionally, the cotton used by fast fashion chains is sprayed with insecticides, pesticides, and dyed with toxic dyes that ruin our planet.
If you care about what kind of apple you put in your mouth, why not care about the clothes you wear directly on your (or on your little one’s) skin? We need to find a way to produce clothes in a more sustainable way. And Gray Label – the Amsterdam-based brand and the first brand that we bring in – does just that. Their apparel is made in a sustainable way, from the crop to the actual product. It is GOTS certified and the people who make the clothes in Porto, Portugal get a good salary and have access to basic human rights. This is the way it’s supposed to be. We as customers – I don’t want to use the word consumers, as that has such a negative ring to it – need to be more aware. Buy less, choose well. Invest in high quality items that last a lifetime – or at least three kids – and don’t buy low quality, badly produced garments that you have to throw away after a single season.
I’d love everyone to go watch the documentary ‘The True Cost’ (it’s available on Netflix). It is about the impact of the fast fashion industry on our planet and on the people who make the clothes. It really opens your eyes.