My kids call it thrift and it’s a regular hobby. After years of wearing clothes I found for them, they began to scavenge for their own business, becoming third-generation Vera stocks much to the delight of their mother and grandmother. They are not outliers among their peers. Oxfam’s Secondhand September saw charity shops full of returning students for the first week of freshman in three years. Blended learning is on the decline. 80s denim and chunky sweaters are replacing last year’s pajamas and onesies.
Not every parent has the head or the time to try thrift stores for young children, so it’s great to find an online store where a new generation can more easily find beautiful children’s clothes. At Orla O’Connell’s GenreFolk is an ingenious 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 the UK in 2019. ‘I had recently lost my own mother who had done so much to support my sister and me growing up. He was an incredibly kind and generous person who went out of his way to help anyone in need. I felt it was the right time in my life to give something back.
Consumers are buying far more clothes than a decade ago and wearing them for far less time
O’Connell was fascinated by the business model of Kate Raworth‘s Donut Economics focused on balancing the needs of people with the resources of the planet. “KindFolk’s goal is to fulfill our social mission while tackling the environmental crisis of fast fashion in children’s clothing, which is a huge problem considering how quickly our children are outgrowing their clothes.”
Fashion is responsible for up to 10% of global carbon emissions. Consumers are buying far more clothes than just ten years ago, and wearing them for much shorter periods of time, as fashion giants like Zara release new looks every fortnight instead of every season. Sustainability is little more than a hollow buzzword with these consumer models in place.
KindFolk has pledged to donate one-third of its net profits from the sale of high-end used clothing to children in emergency accommodation and Direct Provision (DP). He donated over 1,000 clothes and toys to DP centers in Cork. Extending the life cycle of clothing is one of the solutions to the fast fashion nightmare. Repairing, reusing and renting will all help reduce the growing pollution footprint of our fashion patches. “We will be holding a sale of pre-loved communion clothes at Brown Thomas in Cork and Arnotts in Dublin early next year,” O’Connell said. Follow Instagram@wearekindfolk for more details. KindFolk “loves seeing clothes in the world and being loved again,” O’Donnell says.