Ethically Sourced Kids Clothing for Tweens and Teens

Mini Protest Banner inside Somerset House, London during London Fashion Week

28 May Ethically Sourced Kids Clothing for Tweens and Teens

The struggle in finding ethically sourced clothes for older children 

Parents are busy and often there isn’t a huge budget for kids clothing, especially as kids get older and want to choose their own clothes.  So what are your options for buying clothes without having to worry about what, where or who got hurt making them.  At the end of this post we share a few links to helpful websites.

We see organic baby clothing shops frequently online and popping up in affluent high streets, yet in reality babies and toddlers do not need brand new clothes – they wear them for just a few months.

Teens and tweens can be really difficult to buy for, even more so when you are keen to ensure that you are not supporting sweat shop fashion (please take a look at the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops Campaign).

We looked at all the shops that came up in the top results for kids organic clothing and almost all of them stop at under 10 years old – how frustrating if your kids happen (as is usually the case) to grow into a tween or teenager…

teen vogue cover

 Teen Vogue May 2015 cover –  celebrities, trends, supermodel girlfriends and “Your ultimate guide to cool girl style” but where does it mention rocking those hand-me downs from big sis!?

Hand Me Downs

Obvious and far and away the best, cheapest (free) way to clothe your kids, especially little ones – but not all parents are lucky enough to have cousins, siblings or friends who are able to pass down clothes.

Sometimes kids can be stubborn about what they are prepared to wear. Tweens and teens often don’t want to stand out as different or wear what they see as cast-offs from an older sibling.  Being fashionable can be very important for adolescents – most of us remember what being 13 feels like (right?)

Did you always have to wear hand-me downs – do your own kids have to?  You can buy a new top or skirt in many teen fashion shops for pocket money prices, especially in the sales racks.  Have times changed with the ‘throwaway fashion’ 21st century where clothes are so cheap that we no longer (generally speaking) make tough decisions about our kids wardrobe – or do your kids wear what they are given “OR GO NAKED!” (channeling an angry grown up voice there)

Second Hand and Charity Shops

Our next ‘go to’ for kids clothes option would be looking around your local charity shops or online – there are loads of people who would just like a few pounds for a bundle of clothes or those that willingly hand all their still in very good condition clothing to charity shops.

But where are all the second hand clothes for tweens and teens?

Here’s a snap shot below of a search for kids clothes which shows the availability of second hand clothing on ebay – the category 13 – 14 has just 16 items in the whole of EBAY UK!

search for tween second hand clothing
Yes, there’s bound to be more that do fit them in ‘unspecified’ but it just shows clearly how the amount of second hand clothing suddenly reduces after about 6 to 7.

Is this due to the fact that kids wear through clothes so they get thrown away not donated / sold or perhaps more likely that because of kids becoming more picky about clothing once they get over 10, that parents tend to take them shopping on the high street instead?

We’d love to hear any other theories or thoughts – do leave a comment or tweet us @craftivists

Do you give tween or teen clothing to charity shops or sell online or does it have to go into the fabric recycling bin instead?  Or is your local charity shop full of clothes for teens?

love fashion hate sweatshops tote and sarah craftivist

Make Your Own?  

This would be idyllic wouldn’t it – to have the time to make all of your kids clothes…  ok not even just the time but the talent and ermmm… the willing kids?

We are not all born fashion designers or sewing experts (or indeed do we have access to expensive interlockers that are needed for a great finish) and a tween or teen will not (in our experience) be overly keen on wearing a slightly ill fitting party dress/t-shirt/hoodie that you made from an old pair of curtains or their father’s old sweater.

Huge kudos to all of you talented parents who do manage to sew clothes for older kids – we’d really love to hear from anyone who makes clothes for their tweens and teens who has any advice for parents who are looking for patterns for kids of this age. (for everyday clothing)

Make Do and Mend

Sometimes kids grow…  well quite often actually.  So the whole Make do and Mend mindset which we can lovingly apply to our own clothes doesn’t work in quite the same way.  When they grow out of a t-shirt or a pair of trousers the options are to sell, donate to charity or pass on to a friend or member of your family.  All we ask is that no-one ever knowingly throws away something wearable.

Upcycling and Alteration

If you are a dab hand with a needle and thread you could look to transform clothes picked up in a charity shop that could be tweaked to fit your teen.

Learning how to hem a pair of jeans (really well so they don’t even notice by keeping the existing hem) could save you lots of money.  It’s a skill well worth investing in learning (especially if you are short yourself) – see this tutorial here.  You can also find lots of video tutorials for altering clothing on you tube.

High Street

If you normally shop on the high street for your kids clothes, we’d like to direct you to the fabulous Ethical Consumer Magazine who have an ‘Ethical High Street Shops’ leader board for 57 high street shops.

how ethical are high street shops

It makes for pretty miserable reading, the lowest by the way is ASDA (at the time of writing) but at least you can support those that are topping the leader boads here if you can do nothing else.  Read our post about how we all vote with our wallets, supporting businesses and their decisions by continuing to shop with them.

So, Where Can You Find Ethically Sourced Clothing for Older Children?

Where do you shop for tween and teen clothes that have been made without damaging the people who make them or the environment?

Here are a few helpful links

Please share any shops or links to directories you have found that we could add to this list.


Here is the trailer for a very powerful film ‘The True Cost’ – launching tomorrow the 29th May 2015 –  we urge you to watch.  It is rated PG13 as it shows some quite harrowing scenes about the ugly side of fashion.  You may want to watch the film with your teens, it might help you with knowing what to look for and what to avoid when buying clothes and hopefully it will help to educate your young consumers to grow to become curious customers.

What is the answer – How can we eradicate the ugly side of fashion?

There isn’t one specific answer, but instead a few options for how you can help by trying to shop ethically and avoid sweat shop fashion.  You can buy second hand as we have mentioned, but we should also buy into ethical companies where we can afford to.

  • We could become shareholder activists with a company we want to change from the inside.
  • We can ask our Goverments to put in place rules for living wage.
  • We can ask global companies and institutions to put in regulations so garment workers and the environment are treated with respect.

craftivism the ugly side of fashion mini protest banner

The Craftivist Collective uses gentle but powerful acts of  craftivism to reach out in a new way to leaders, politicians and global companies.  We believe that you don’t have to be a placard waving campaigner, marching and shouting to make a change and get people engaged in acting against the injustices of our world.

Our approach is different, find out more about the Craftivist Collective approach here – and please leave a comment if you have found this post interesting or inspiring, or you have any advice for parents on the hunt for ethically sourced clothing for their older children.

  • Ruth van steenis
    Posted at 07:25h, 29 May Reply

    I do make clothes for my teen, it is trickier as they get older.. My teen loves the Jack Wills so I’ve made shirts, skirts and loads of Pj bottoms. I do donate all the clothes that are in good condition to my local charity shop and thoes that arn’t, wrap up and take along for the ‘rag bag’. I’m lucky in that the girls are aware of the ethical side of fashion and I’ve learnt so much from them. Burda do quite a few patterns for teens although not so much choice for boys.

  • lokee
    Posted at 05:06h, 06 July Reply

    Nice post…… It is a useful post for parents to buy trendy clothes for their children…. after reading the given detail I have come to know about different shops of kids clothes and I have known about lots of brands….. parents can easily buy prevalent clothes for their children from this site……. thanks for giving us lots of knowledge about Ethically Sourced Kids Clothing for Tweens and Teens.

    • Craftivist Collective
      Posted at 13:17h, 08 July Reply

      So glad you found it useful Lokee 🙂 Please do share the link with your friends, family and contacts if you think they will find it useful too x

  • Mapiri
    Posted at 21:35h, 23 November Reply

    So happy to have found your site. Ethical clothing for kids is sometimes hard to find, so seeing all your tips is refreshing. 🙂

    • Craftivist Collective
      Posted at 21:39h, 24 November Reply

      So glad it is helpful Mapiri 🙂

  • Alisa
    Posted at 10:08h, 25 February Reply

    I love your Kid collection, I want to know can you deliver it in Canada

    • Craftivist Collective
      Posted at 21:20h, 15 March Reply

      Yes we deliver all over the world Alisa and I always add in a few other free goodies in each order 🙂 x

  • Amy Hardt
    Posted at 03:01h, 21 March Reply

    My 11yo daughter loves to sew and alter clothing to fit her own style. Sometimes thrift store clothes that aren’t to her taste become acceptable that way. Another thing she does is make her own shirts and leggings without patterns by cutting stretch fabric to the exact shape as existing clothing items in her closet, then sewing them together very easily. I love that she cares so much about ethical fashion and is creative about it, but it is so hard to find workable solutions for this age, when there is only so much time and money available…

    • Craftivist Collective
      Posted at 17:03h, 24 March Reply

      Your daughter sounds awesome Amy!:) And I agree it can be difficult dressing growing young people always ethically so don’t forget that as a customer you can also ask at the till of each shop (not adding too much time to your trip) what their ethically policy is, ask them to email them the answer to you they don’t know too and ask them to tell the manager that as a customer you are keen they improve their production processes to be as ethical as possible. It can take 1 minute so say with a smile and kindly but it not only reminds the staff member to think about who made the clothes they are selling but it also goes up to management level so they remember and the more customers do that, the more companies listen. Small things can make big changes so keep being a brilliant mum and citizen Amy 🙂 x

  • Mitz Accessories
    Posted at 10:12h, 24 April Reply

    What a wonderful kids collection and the variety that has been mentioned here specially targeting the teens.

  • Feath Allen
    Posted at 17:17h, 22 January Reply

    My kids are 9 & under.
    They still wear mostly garage sale or hand me down, with exceptions of socks, undies, mittens, sometimes shoes, gifts and handmade stuff.
    Begging the grandmas to patch for me. But yes. ….way harder to find bigger sizes!
    I need time.. .so I can learn to sew & recreate.
    Hoping my kids will find their own s s tyle vs fast fashion.

  • Aurora Royal
    Posted at 06:43h, 22 October Reply

    Nice, I love your Kid collection,

  • Shane radcliffe
    Posted at 08:07h, 19 July Reply

    I have mostly prefer my kids to wear comfortable outfits its good for his heath and grow. Thank for share great blog

  • Olivia
    Posted at 06:07h, 30 July Reply

    I love to wear casual clothes and especially at night i have mostly prefer to wear comfortable outfit. Allover blog is great.

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    Posted at 11:03h, 19 December Reply

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    • Craftivist Collective
      Posted at 17:10h, 21 February Reply

      thanks for your kind words Thomas 🙂

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    • Craftivist Collective
      Posted at 13:59h, 29 May Reply

      Thanks for your kind words Mishi 🙂

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