Van Beren | Eco children's clothing
It has been on my mind for a while to share some wonderful brands, that create beautiful high quality clothes, while valuing the materials, the workers and the process. We live in a fast world and it is easy and cheap to buy fast fashion. Aside from the problems this creates for society and the planet, I believe it also creates an emptiness in the people that wear it. You may not even notice it is there, until you think back. Do you remember a specific clothing item from your childhood?
For me it was a red, wool winter coat, with an elegant black collar. I remember it wasn't cheap, but more so I remember the feeling I felt when I wore it - proud and special. That was in rural Germany of the early nineties. I bet you anything, that my mother growing up in Germany in the early fifties, remembers every pretty dress, every skirt, every neat blouse she has ever owned as a child. There were less clothes available and less money available to buy them and so items were often handmade, taken care of, t r e a s u r e d and then handed down.
Nowadays, a lot of young families dream back on those moments and those feelings. We want to have that grandmother, that is sending loads of beautiful hand-knitted items in the mail. We wish, we had the time, the skills and the resources to spin the wool, dye the yarn, and knit that special jumper for our children. But if you are anything like me, you have let excuses about time-management and not least really bad fine motor skills stop you from making it happen.
That is why I'm particularly happy and a little proud that the Austrian label Van Beren is the first brand I am introducing in this new blog category. For two reasons:
One, they make timeless, vintage-inspired knits that are absolutely beautiful.
Two, and maybe even more valuable (and more sustainable!) in this fast-paced world - Van Beren offers knitting workshops in their WOOL SCHOOL. Creating a safe space to learn and to connect. There's a community there. New friends to be met, new skills to be learned. Knitting, a modern hobby, a daily mindfulness practice.
(Below, I'm listing their upcoming events, and I'm very bummed that I live thousands of miles away, but if you find yourself in the Graz area - be sure to stop in!)
The story of Van Beren is simply beautiful. Heike, the owner, came up with the idea when she was pregnant with her third child. She felt an immense need to make something with her hands as an expression of her infinite love and devotion. She wrote to me that it is important to her to value things not for their monetary worth, but rather their emotional one. She took old knitting patterns from the 50's and 60's, adapted them to meet her vision for design and comfort and recruited a team of talented knitters that are finishing the Van Beren pieces order by order. Housewives, single mothers and elderly ladies are all on her team, being able to earn a bit extra and pass on their passion for knitting - multigenerational.
Van Beren also offer KNIT KITS, that provide you with the yarn, buttons, needles (if needed) and instructions to create your very own Van Beren piece. So if you are looking for a great way to spend some cold winter days ahead, you can dream up a picture of a fire place, a hot coffee and you going wild with yarn and needle.
Every piece that Van Beren sent me feels soft and luxurious, yet reminds me of simpler days. Days from the past, when I was out in nature with my family, exploring freely. The BILLIE hat and the LUCA gloves remind me of the old photographs, shot in heavily orange Kodak film, that shows my toddler self and my sisters pulling a wooden sled through the snowy winter days of our childhood.
The cozy knitted items are made of 100% Merino Wool. Temperature regulating and super soft, it has an antibacterial effect, self-cleans, dries quickly and is flexible, giving the baby and toddler freedom to play and move. In the photographs Smilla and Winter are wearing the RAMONA jacket and the STEWART romper. The collection also includes cute dresses, booties, bodysuits, and pullovers. All items are hand-made in Austria for babies and toddlers from birth to 3 years. I like that the color palette relies heavily on neutrals (if you have followed me for a while, you may have noticed the absence of bright colors) and some very powdery, yesteryearly blushes and blues.
If I had to pick one piece out of the collection, that I'd invest in any day it is the comfortable TEDDY suit. It keeps baby snuggly and hyggelig while being pushed in the pram, or exploring being carried by mama or papa. And then theres the Van Beren BEAR ....
The brands philosophy states "Sometimes we feel delighted by nostalgia but we always think about the future. Because we want to take responsibility for the generations to come. This is what makes Van Beren special."
Van Beren definitely lays on the nostalgia quite thick, but creates clothing that is made for the everyday, the nowadays, the I-find-beauty-in-the-ordinary-days. And hopefully, for the tomorrow; the younger brother, the tiny cousin, or the box that reads "for baby no3, just in case".