Back when I was a childrenswear editor, traipsing the trade show floor in search of new brands worth profiling, one of my go-to questions was: “What made you decide to launch a kids’ clothing line?” More often that not, the answer had something to do with the founder being a new mom who couldn’t find the exact star-printed one-piece/dinosaur graphic tee/pink tulle skirt she wanted to dress her baby in so she decided to make her own.
As someone whose job largely consisted of staying on top of children’s trends—and who watched many a new brand come and go in the space of a season—I can confidently say that was a BS reason to start a business.
And that’s exactly what I thought this morning when I was reading about a new direct-to-consumer womenswear brand based in London called Kitri.
“Started from the frustration of not being able to find well-made, distinctive designs without breaking the bank, we set out to create our dream pieces in the hope that other women will love them too,” the company’s “about” page reads. “We're coming directly to you—no middlemen, no extra cost—so we can bring you the best quality and designs for the best possible price.”
The clothes are lovely (tops with fluted sleeves or ruffle backs, pyjama trousers, dresses with architecutral details) and prices range from £45 to £165 (so less than what you’d pay for similar styles at the higher end of the high street), but do we really need another brand using the “no middlemen” line to sell us more stuff? Not to negate Kitri’s raison d'être, but a bunch of direct-to-consumer brands are already on the scene, waving that same flag: Everlane, Outdoor Voices, Reformation, DSTLD, M. Gemi, La Ligne, Mott & Bow…
But Everlane breaks down the production cost of each item, revealing its markup as well as how much a comparable style would retail for, and Reformation reveals what impact each of its garments had on the environment.
Kitri’s website, as eye-pleasing as it is, does neither one of those things.
According to the brand’s ethical policy, outlined on its FAQ page, “We take the ethical manufacture of clothing very seriously and all of our suppliers are compliant with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) base code. We know our factories; we know their business practices and our Kitri representatives work side by side with our suppliers to ensure ongoing ethical, social and environmental compliance.”
Great! But the product pages only say what each piece is made from (mainly polyester, viscose and cotton, which aren’t very sustainable), not where or how they’re manufactured.
And while each of Kitri’s designs is produced in limited quantities, new arrivals will hit the site weekly. Given that the world now consumes an estimated 80 billion new pieces of clothing each year, any new brand on the block needs to consider the consequences of working with conventional materials that are less than kind to planet Earth. If sustainability is important to you, let you customers know that when they visit your site. Otherwise you’re just another brand hawking another cold-shoulder dress.