Why parents are choosing to rent their kids’ clothes


The secondhand clothing market is growing fast – and not just for adults. Meet the parents changing the way we’ll dress our children in the future

Erick Bouwer’s baby son Joshua was, to use a technical term, a whopper: 4.5kg, or almost 10lb in old money. “That was a big guy indeed, he’s 11 years old now and he still is,” says Bouwer, on the line from Amsterdam. Bouwer and his wife had nested assiduously before Joshua’s arrival, supplemented with presents from friends and family, but arriving home from hospital, they realised that none of the onesies and cute cardigans would fit their new arrival. Bouwer laughs, “We were, like, ‘OK, we’ve got a bunch of clothes here, but I hope we’ve still got the receipts.’”

A decade on, Bouwer’s “personal frustration” became a business, Circos. All parents know there is a relentless churn with children’s clothes, especially when your kids are growing fast: leggings are worn once and come back with holes in both knees; jackets fit snugly for a month before having to be retired. Bouwer, then a pricing strategy consultant, dug deeper. He found that, on average, parents use 280 items of clothing for their child before his or her second birthday. Items are typically worn for around two or three months. After that, only 15% of clothing is donated or recycled. Most of the remainder ends up in landfill.

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