Yorkshire childrenswear brand Colony Kidswear lets the little ones run free in style

Handmade in North Yorkshire, Colony Kidswear is a new, consciously created, sustainable childrenswear brand that looks towards a better fashion future. Katherine Busby reports.

Children need to feel free, and their clothing should allow that to happen, says Charlotte Lucy Hazell, a 34-year-old designer from Malton, North Yorkshire. She launched her label, Colony Kidswear, to do just that. It is a collection of fun, ethically sourced and made childrenswear, using prints inspired by nature and soft, natural fabrics.

With more than 15 years’ experience in the industry, Charlotte is a skilled designer and seamstress who has combined her talents with her passion for creating a better fashion future for children. “The aim of the brand is to create children’s clothing in as sustainable and ethical a way as I can. Creating beautiful, wearable pieces that are non-restrictive and freeing for little people, so that they can be free to immerse themselves into their imagination and explorations,” she says.

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Dresses cost £48.50; bucket hats, £21; bibs, £8.50-£10.50; rompers, £45; reworked denim dungarees, £45; bloomers, £22; shorts, £25; T-shirts, £32.50; skirts, £28.50. All at ColonyKidswear.co.uk.

Charlotte grew up in North Yorkshire, sewing as a hobby with her mother and grandmother. At a young age, she realised she was good at it, and enjoyed it and, encouraged by her family, she began altering her own clothes and then making them for herself, and her family and friends. She went to college to learn pattern making and completed a number of courses to hone her craft.

“I have always loved clothes and dressing up – as a child I would wear several different outfits a day. I wasn’t very academic but developed a passion and skill for sewing and decided to follow it and see where it took me,” she says.

After a successful career making and selling womenswear – including bespoke occasionwear – Charlotte’s interest in the fashion industry changed when she became a mother.

Six years ago, after the birth of her first child (she now has two boys Seth, six, and four-year-old Monty) Charlotte began to be increasingly interested in creating an environment for her own family that was more sustainable and ethically conscious. This soon spilled over into her creative work.

Dresses cost £48.50; bucket hats, £21; bibs, £8.50-£10.50; rompers, £45; reworked denim dungarees, £45; bloomers, £22; shorts, £25; T-shirts, £32.50; skirts, £28.50. All at ColonyKidswear.co.uk.

“I have never been a fan of fast fashion, but after I had Seth and I was spending time with lots of mums, I started making bloomers and some childrenswear,” she says.

“I also started reading more about waste, landfill waste and also the environmental impact of our everyday shopping habits.

“I was researching fabrics and the impact they can have on the environment and this led to me wanting to create my own fabrics and know every step and touchpoint of the pieces I was making for my boys – and then eventually selling.”

This return to nature and being more eco-conscious, coupled with her boys’ desire to explore and discover the world around them, inspired Colony Kidswear.

Dresses cost £48.50; bucket hats, £21; bibs, £8.50-£10.50; rompers, £45; reworked denim dungarees, £45; bloomers, £22; shorts, £25; T-shirts, £32.50; skirts, £28.50. All at ColonyKidswear.co.uk.

The fabrics are all designed and printed in England, and feature various mini beasts. “These colonies of creatures are wild, free and largely unseen, which fascinates my boys and inspires me.”

Colony’s aesthetic is to blend the traditional with modern. The boxy designs and clean lines work with traditional silhouettes to create fun wardrobes for kids up to seven years old.

The quirky and fun mini beasts are printed on a cotton/linen blend fabric in earthy tones of pink and blue.

“Nature absolutely inspires this collection, from creating it to preserve the planet and also visually. I find it amazing that something so small as a woodlouse has such a huge impact and is so crucial to our biodiversity,” adds Charlotte.

“The colours I use are derived from my own photos taken on adventures with the boys. A sunrise, a walk in the woods, a day at the beach – nature provides such a wonderful colour palette.

“The textiles I use are all natural as they are kinder to the environment as well as being beautifully soft against the skin.”

Each piece is designed and made by Charlotte, and she is keen to ensure people understand the skill and time that goes into the pieces. “It is impossible to make a piece of children’s clothing ethically for the price of a coffee. The skill and experience needed to produce clothing with limited impact on the planet costs more than the high street is charging.

“As a creative person, I find it hard to ask people for money and be commercial. However, I think it’s important as a part of the messaging behind Colony Kidswear to educate and reinforce that if you want people to be paid a living wage and dress your children in fabrics that are kinder to their skin and the planet, there is a financial cost.

“Sewing is my favourite part of what I do. I love creating something with my hands that someone is going to wear and love.

“The biggest challenge is working alone. It gets lonely and sometimes I really need someone to talk through a problem or bounce ideas off. I love Instagram for this, for creating a space to chat with like-minded creatives and share.

“I am really proud of this collection and brand and hope that people love it as much as I do. I want to encourage people to realise they don’t need lots, that a couple of beautifully made pieces is far better for them and the planet.”