When London-based Laura Roso Vidrequin - a senior buyer at Harvey Nichols and mother to baby boy Albert – became a mother for the first time, she noticed that while there were changes in the adult market, the circular economy for children’s garments remained largely the same...
She also noticed that second-hand clothes had been deemed as “dirty” for a long time. “Consumers are used to associating second-hand with thrift shops, that are not always taken care of and are often full of old, discarded items that have not been cleaned or organized,” she says. It inspired her to launch Kids Oclock, a fashion resale platform where you’ll find the best of pre-loved for your babies and toddlers (sizes go from newborn to three years old) and where you can sell, rent, or buy clothes. Because as Laura recently posted on her Instagram account @kids_oclock, there is no planet B.
Kids Oclock was created on the basis that kids’ clothes should be worn more than once, but also, built on a trustful community of mums, which, she hopes will help eradicate the stigma around second-hand. Here we speak to Laura about what drove her to launch this business (she was previously a buyer at Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi and also works on her family jewellery business Gag and Lou by Agnes Vidrequin), her thoughts on sustainability and what she loves most about being a mum.
Go to kidsoclock.co.uk | Follow @lauravidrequin @kids_oclock
Let’s start at the beginning – talk us through your career as a buyer and what are some of your favourite moments working for companies such as Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi?
Let’s start at the beginning –talk us through your career as a buyer and what are some of your favourite moments working for companies such as Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi?
Born in Paris and raised there, until I moved to NY for my first real job – which was on the other side of buying, I was a wholesale assistant for a French-owned NY-based showroom representing Joseph and Balmain at CDNetwork.
To this day, I continue praising the importance of understanding sales before buying. I have joined then many different retail spaces, Moda Operandi, Ralph Lauren/Club Monaco, and more recently Net-a-Porter. I have learnt so much in each of these companies, thanks to the incredible bosses and women I was working with.
Moda Operandi was known and built, at the time, 2013, on the trunkshow business mode. When I joined, Lauren Santo Domingo had decided to add the boutique or buy now wear now to the platform. We were a very small team dedicated to source, and purchase collection for that purpose.
I am very thankful for all I learnt during my time there, we were a small team, very hands-on. Lauren Santo Domingo was always involved in all decisions which, for us, was an amazing way to learn.
To this day, the original modettes are still my closest friends, is it because we all worked so closely and late together? Or is it because we were taught in the same school? Not sure. However, I know they are the most hardworking girls, with the best taste one could have.
One of my favorite moments at Moda Operandi, came from we were tasked with building a shop for the 2013 Met Gala, ‘Punk: Chaos to Couture’. We had to source all sorts of punk-inspired products from all over the world; mostly from non-fashion vendors. This experience made me feel like a true buyer; we were sourcing unconventional products and displaying them in a way that made them desirable to the fashion community, as opposed to going into a showroom and picking pieces displayed right in front of us.
Net-a-Porter on the other hand was already very established when I joined, the impression of building or creating something was a little bit more complicated to achieve. However, the team and Elizabeth (buying director) were amazing at trusting their juniors and let us lead our respected categories. I have learnt so much about communication, trades, and processes. Both experiences are absolutely perfect together, and to me, helped creating the yin and yang of a buyer.
What changes have you seen over the last few years in the circular economy around children’s garments?
I don’t believe there have been any changes regarding children’s garments. I have seen strong brands promoting seasonless garments, or “organic” production. I don’t think it is enough. I don’t claim to be an expert on sustainability, I am just a buyer with 10 years experience and a mom living in a city where I am exposed to a lot of cool brands. And I think they should lead and give the example. They should be more proactive.
I have seen many companies use greenwashing, organic, sustainable as a way to position themselves at the center of the environmental conversations within the fashion industry and think that we have to be cautious in the way we use those terms. A marketing tool should not be used by a brand/a retail unless it is an actual adjective of their mission.
How will this pandemic change the fashion industry?
I think the fashion industry has already changed since the beginning of this pandemic. The way everyone is having to speak on the issue is great because it will be environmentally impactful and force everyone to take a look at their own habits and practices.
The industry doesn’t need six collections a year, and the impact that the preconceived need to fly out every buyer, model, and hair or makeup artist to every show in all major cities this many times a year does not help anything, whatsoever. I am in for creativity, conception, imagination, but not at any cost.
MaisonCléo is mastering the local creativity. I hope the biggest player will begin to move towards more local resources, using talent around the shoot locations rather than flying in a huge team like we’ve seen before.
It has to start somewhere, brands need to show the responsible way, but consumers should too. Refuse to purchase when there is a lack of transparency in the production chain, or focus their spending on something more sustainable.
Why is there the belief that secondhand clothes, especially in the kids’ category, are dirty?
Second-hand has been deemed as “dirty” for a long time. Consumers are used to associating second-hand with thrift shops, that are not always taken care of and are often full of old, discarded items that have not been cleaned or organized. It doesn’t have to be dirty, it is actually a mine of gold. There is also a distinction to be made between vintage and pre-loved/ second hand. Vintage falls into silhouettes from the past, items from previous decades. Pre-loved doesn’t have to be vintage, while vintage is, by nature, pre-loved.
Kids Oclock has been created on the basis that kids’ clothes should be worn more than once, but also, built on a trustful community of mums, which, I hope will help eradicate the stigma.
What are some tips for women wanting to make changes to become more sustainable?
I am not an expert, but I believe every tiny change can make a difference. When you go grocery shopping, bring your own bags, drink filter tap water if you need to, buy local as much as possible. In London, there are now a lot of local shops that deliver such as Farm Shop for your proteins and Oddbox for your veggies. In regards to living towards a more sustainable closet, few rules. Don’t be a keeper, (donate, refresh or sell) what you do not wear. I use Vestiaire Collective a lot, whether as a seller, or as a buyer. It is simply a habit to get used to. Take care of your pieces, they will last longer.
I have three main tips for women who want to become more sustainable:
- Don’t be a keeper – get rid of and donate the clothes that you or your children aren’t wearing of or have grown out of
- Only buy what you really need and think harder about buying the things that you really want, and be okay with the clothing movement – accepting that fast-fashion has detrimental effects on the industry and our environment
- Start investing in pieces that are slightly more expensive, but made ethically.
What are your thoughts on fast fashion stores such as Zara and H&M?
Zara proves to be strong in terms of their imagery and online marketing of their products, but it’s a shame that their inspiration derives from many small designers trying to build their brand and create recognition just to create excitement around new trends that are affordable and able to be produced what seems like almost immediately. They are absorbing small designer’s creativity without recognizing how impactful it is on their businesses, and I believe they should be more transparent about the realities of production in emerging countries and should be creative when it comes to making real-life changes.
Tell us about your Mums O’Clock category?
Mums O’Clock was created as a platform to showcase the women that are the foundation of our community. We post a handful of mothers per month, where they are able to show their lifestyle, with each question asked by us being tailored to their individuality. The goal being to feature their creative input, their lives as mothers, and come up with productive conversation.
What’s life in London like right now?
We got extremely lucky during the pandemic as our neighbourhood feels like a village. We have a farmer market every weekend –with strong COVID health and safety guidance – our favourite local food shop remained open, and Hyde Park was open for us to go for a walk. The weather was stunning throughout the whole quarantine so we enjoyed the outdoors as much as possible, which never happens in London.
What has been the most challenging stage of motherhood for you?
I think it was the transition from Albie being a newborn to being a baby, around 4 to 8 months. You are no longer a very young mum, so expected to have it together, and I didn’t. I realise now I was quite tough with myself, wanting to have it all, a sleepy, yet dynamic baby. I wanted to have my ‘me time’ back, but would not miss a second of my day without him. I was completely torn all day long between being myself and looking at the situation, which taught me one thing. A baby will not want a perfect mum, but a happy one. I had to teach that concept to my husband too, Mr. Perfectionist, and to make him learn spontaneity and flexibility are keys in parenthood. He is now much more comfortable with the concept, but we had a tough year of learning. Each family gives birth and goes through the first year their own way, but I wish I had been given more warning.
What are some practical tips you can share around time management?
I am an early riser, so I do get a lot done in the morning, which is a huge part of mumentreprenurship. I also have baby-proofed the house. 18 months is a challenging age for a baby to be around when launching a business at home. But I really am trusting we should give their responsibility as early as possible, granted there is no danger in the house. So I let Albert play and explore, I put some of his toys out for him to access and he usually can last an hour during the day.
What has kept you sane during this pandemic and what lessons do you hope we will learn from it?
I now am sure I can live with my husband and baby, just the three of us, without anyone losing it completely ha. So many good lessons, first of all, I didn’t realise I was living a memory until it became one, so will teach me to cherish more the present and the instant. Then I think a big part of this pandemic has been to learn how to let go, not be on top of them, myself nor the schedule… we were happy just going with the flow, but going with it is an art or a sport, and it has to be taught.
The last thing I learned, which was a big wake up call, is to care, every day, all the time, for others. Since slow life hit us, we’re now much more capable of taking time to reflect, and to care for everyone around us – start with a smile, you’ll realise how big an impact this has. Look around you, a charity, an elderly person in your building – the crisis has hit hard and every little bit counts.