My children call it thrifting and it’s a regular leisure activity. After years of wearing clothes I’ve found for them, they’ve taken to rummaging for their own bargains, becoming third-generation Vera Values to the delight of their mother and grandmother. They are not outliers among their peers. Oxfam’s Secondhand September saw charity shops thronged with students returning for the first proper freshers’ week in three years. Blended learning is on the wane. Eighties denim and chunky jumpers replace last year’s pyjamas and onesies.
Not every parent has the headspace or time to try thrifting for younger children so it’s great to find an online shop where a new generation can find beautiful children’s clothes more easily. Orla O’Connell’s KindFolk is an ingenuous mix of environmental and social good.
As a mother of two young children, O’Connell wanted to do something to help parents and children living in emergency accommodation and Direct Provision when she returned from living in the UK in 2019. “I had recently lost my own mum who had done so much to support my sister and I growing up. She was an incredibly kind and generous person who would go out of her way to help anyone who needed it. I felt this was the right time in my life to give something back.”
Consumers are buying many more clothes than we did even a decade ago, and wearing them for far shorter times
O’Connell was fascinated by the business model of Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics focused on balancing the needs of people with the resources of the planet. “KindFolk’s aim is to fulfil our social mission while tackling the environmental crisis of fast fashion in children’s wear which is a huge issue considering the speed our children outgrow their clothes.”
Fashion is responsible for up to 10 per cent of global carbon emissions. Consumers are buying many more clothes than we did even a decade ago, and wearing them for far shorter times as fashion giants like Zara pump out new looks every fortnight instead of every season. Sustainability is little more than a hollow buzzword with these consumption-driving models in place.
KindFolk is committed to donating a third of its net profits from selling high-end used clothes to children in emergency accommodation and Direct Provision (DP). It has donated more than 1,000 clothing items and toys to DP centres in Cork. Extending the life-cycle of clothes is one of the solutions to the fast fashion nightmare. Repair, reuse and rental will all help to reduce the burgeoning pollution footprint of our fashion fixes. “We’ll be holding a preloved communion wear sale in Brown Thomas in Cork and Arnotts in Dublin early next year,” O’Connell says. Follow Instagram@wearekindfolk for more details. KindFolk “loves to see clothes out in the world and being loved again,” O’Donnell says.