As of yesterday, I haven’t bought myself a single piece of clothing or pair of shoes in two and a half years. I’m not sure at what point I’ll eventually break the ban and buy a few things, but I’m not there yet. That said, at the point I do, I’ll be looking to thrifted options first.
That said, my husband and son aren’t along for the ride with my clothes buying ban, so our clothing budget hasn’t been absolutely zero this year, though close to it. In January, we bought our son a new pair of Carhartt overalls, June was new work pants for my husband (also Carhartts), and August was a 12 pack of socks for the kiddo from Costco. For 2019, that was it so far.
Sustainably Clothing A Growing Child
While we have bought our son very few pieces of new clothing this year, he does have some clothing that is new to him, but not brand new. Just as we pass along the clothes and toys that he’s outgrown, so do we accept hand me downs from friends and neighbors. Kids grow so quickly that it’s rare that a piece of clothing is worn out by the time it’s too small.
This past winter, a friend brought me a large box of her son’s old clothes and shoes, and our son has slowly been wearing more clothing out of that box as he grows (her younger son is a few years older than mine). His winter coat is from that box, and we were able to pass along a couple of the yet too big snow boots to our neighbors during snowpocolypse in February.
As wonderful it is to get so many hand me downs from friends, I don’t rely on that 100% and we do buy him some amount of clothing. When he was younger and I was working full time (see: constantly frazzled), a lot of his clothing was purchased full price, fast fashion, from places like Target because it was quick, easy, and cheap.
Once I cut back my hours, he got a little older, and I had a little bit more space in my life, I turned almost exclusively to thrift stores. But buying clothes that way almost always takes more time than going to a department type store because there is a lot of clothing to wade through and the quality and type isn’t always what you’re looking for.
I’ve lucked out in the past and had days where I’ve come home with a seriously awesome – and cheap – haul from the thrift store, but there have been just as many days that I’ve walked away with nothing because I’m not happy with the selection. And I have to make the time to get to the store to browse (which is also a thousand times harder with the kiddo in tow), so it’s been quite a while since we’ve been, and he could definitely use a few new pieces of clothing.
Pre-Loved Clothes from Kids on 45th
You know those millions of subscription boxes? That 99% of them are seriously wasteful and almost always full of stuff you don’t need? Perhaps this deserves its own post, but it really bothers me how much waste is created by the drive of wanting something new and exciting in the mail. While we drain our pocketbooks and cram the landfills full of more junk.
Enter in Kids on 45th. They are an online retailer that works off the same concept of receiving “surprise” boxes in the mail, but instead of lots of fast fashion or trinkets that start to gather dust in no time, they ship pre loved kids clothing. Basically, they are an online thrift store and they do the shopping for you.
As much as I do love hunting through secondhand shops for a great deal, I have to admit I loved receiving a box full of new, pre-loved clothing for my son that I didn’t have to search out for myself. Between my job, volunteer commitments, gardening, running, time for family and friends, reading, and this blog, I don’t have time for much else. And really? I would much rather take the hour for a run through the woods than an hour clothes shopping.
I used to enjoy it more, but since embarking on my clothes buying ban two and a half years ago, I’ve come to see clothes shopping as a chore, and not much more, which is mostly a good thing, but it also means that I’ve been a bit behind on shopping for more clothes for the kiddo. When you never go into clothing stores, you just don’t think about it.
We also have a great variety of thrift stores in our area, so access to in person secondhand clothing is pretty easy for us, but this online option would be extra great for anyone who is in a small town or rural area that doesn’t have much in the way of local options. When we used to live in South Carolina, there was no thrift store nearby, so it meant clothes from Wal-Mart (or to drive 45 minutes – hour to other options). While mail isn’t always the first choice environmentally, it is compared to the options that many people have in other regions. It’s easy to forget that when we live in a more populated, accessible space.
How Kids on 45th works
The best part about Kids on 45th, I think, is that it isn’t actually a subscription box. That is, it isn’t something that you have to sign up for to receive every month, but instead you order a box whenever your kid needs new clothing (which is absolutely not every month). But when you do, the process is really simple.
You start by giving them a “style” sense for your kid, giving them information on size, style (casual, trendy, sporty, etc) and gender. I have to say, I wish that the gender selection didn’t exist, or that there was a way to select unisex or something, because choosing one or the other is really limiting. I realize they say it’s because the clothing fits differently, but before puberty, that really isn’t true. Side tangent, perhaps, but an important conversation I think.
After going through the styling section, you select the type of clothing you want to order, with a minimum of ten items. I actually like that they have a minimum here, because the shipping part is the one thing that’s really not so environmentally friendly. By setting a lower limit on items of clothing, they encourage parents to order in bundles instead of one piece at a time. That way, the transportation impact per item of clothing is less (though of course, well higher than hand me downs from a neighbor).
They also have free shipping on orders over $65, but it’s only $2.99 for orders below that, so not a huge cost regardless.
For my first box, I ordered three t-shirts, four long sleeve shirts, one pair of jeans, and one tank top. I did order them in 5T, one size up from what he’s wearing now, to ensure that they would fit him for a while. I realize there will likely come a time where he cares more about wearing slightly too-big clothing, but we aren’t there yet. He actually just wore his fireman’s costume from Halloween again today for fun, so clearly buying clothing a size or two up has worked out well for us (he wore the previous Halloween costume three years in a row).
Unlike Amazon deliveries, they actually rolled the clothing and packed it in to a just-right size box. Maybe not a big deal, but packaging things does reduce the waste associated with online delivery, especially when you think about the sheer quantity of things that are shipped on a daily basis.
Out of the ten pieces of clothing I received, I would have to say my favorite two are the Star Wars sweatshirt and the fleece lined pair of jeans. The kiddo has watched some Star Wars lately and has a couple pairs of Star Wars socks that he wears all the time, so I expect this will become a staple once the weather starts to cool down.
He currently owns one pair of fleece lined jeans that he got from an older (girl) friend – clearly the gender of the clothing hasn’t mattered – but they are getting short in the leg and really should be handed on to someone else at this point. Since we are headed to Iceland this winter, I was definitely going to need to get him a couple pairs, so now I’m well on my way on that front.
Two of the t-shirts though are the exact same, just in two different colors. They are also brand new, with tags on, which they do say will happen with some of the second hand clothing (which I do see plenty at thrift stores). If he ends up loving the shirt, having it in two colors will be great. If not, it would have been nice to get something different.
All in all, I’m pleased with the quality and variety of clothing that came in the Kids on 45th box, and I can definitely see myself ordering one a couple times a year. The prices are a bit higher than what I can find at some of our local thrift stores, but also the quality is more consignment level, and about on par with the prices I see at those stores. Not the very cheapest option out there, but definitely well below brand new prices – and with the my added perk of being pre-loved clothing.
Final side note: Kids on 45th was originally just a brick and mortar children’s thrift store in Seattle – and one my mother in law apparently has frequented for clothes for my kiddo in the past (she keeps some at her house for the days he’s with her). How cool is that? I knew the name originally sounded familiar, and that’s why. Small world.
Interested in ordering a box for your kiddo? Follow this link and use the code TREADLIGHTLY for $10 off your first order. Full disclosure: I did get this first box for free in exchange for this review, but as always (and is probably clear by the way this review is written) that I will always be fully open and honest here about my opinions. And if you can get clothing from a neighbor or from your local Buy Nothing group, you’ll still be ahead of buying secondhand clothing online. But like with everything else, sometimes convenience can be a great thing, and it’s still lightyears ahead of the fast fashion options at most retailers.