When it comes to kitting out our kids, it’s all too easy to fall back on those high-street reliables we all flock to with very little thought for how their products were made or who profits from our buying from them. Before we know it our little ones have wardrobes full of identikit fast fashion, shelves laden with books ordered from tax-avoiding e-commerce giants that barely remunerate the authors that wrote them, and cheaply made toys that probably won’t make it past your child’s next birthday.
I am by no means innocent when it comes to buying from horrible big conglomerates (forgive me, I am poor), but I have learnt the hard, breaking-my-neck-tripping-over-the-crap way that less is more where kids’ stuff is concerned, and would much rather Bab had a few well-made, well-chosen heirloom pieces than a nursery full of mass-produced rubbish. So let’s make a pledge to shop small and to shop well, to support the self-employed makers (many of whom are parents) who make a living creating beautiful, sustainable, unique kids’ products, and help preserve the brilliant independent kids’ boutiques that sell them. Here are a few of the best.
- Handily located on the same Tufnell Park street as popular play cafe Bear + Wolf, the beautiful eenymeeny is a small but perfectly formed modern lifestyle store for 0-10s. Think clean white walls and an uncluttered layout, with everything – from books and toys to clothing and homewares – earning its place on the shelf through quality, usefulness, uniqueness or cool-factor (Tufnell Park 3 mins).
- Islington interiors store Molly-Meg is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of ridiculously beautiful things for kids, having sold tasteful furniture and homeware, and magical accessories and toys since 2009. With her kidswear-design background, owner Molly Price has a brilliant eye for fresh, modern, expertly designed products that both kids and grownups will treasure forever (Essex Road 4 mins).
- South-East London lifestyle store Cissy Wears offers an exceptionally tasteful collection of kids’ clothing, toys and books, as well as a stylish selection of gifts for bigger people. This Hither Green favourite is not your average kids’ shop, being the antithesis of cheap plastic toymageddon with its serene palette of black, white and dusty pastels, and focus on sustainable design (Hither Green 4 mins).
- Scandi Mini’s stock nails that Insta-worthy Nordic aesthetic that most of us can only dream of for our children’s wardrobes and bedrooms. It’s a covetable combination of monochrome minimalism and bold eclecticism, peppered with quirky animal motifs, cool conversational prints and a nagging sense that you’re nowhere near cool enough to own any of this stuff (Kensington Olympia 9 mins).
- Niddle Noddle is a beautifully presented contemporary kids’ boutique with a cool vintage vibe. On sale is an adorable edit of toys, clothes, books and nursery decor, with many pieces sourced in limited batches from hard-to-find brands. And if that doesn’t satisfy then there’s a big yellow helter-skelter at the back of the shop that kids can’t fail to miss – and parents will probably wish they had (Hornsey 15 mins).
- Award-winning ‘family lifestyle store’ Olive Loves Alfie offers an impressive selection of Scandi-style clothing, toys and homeware, curated to challenge the traditional view of boy-and-girl style and play. Based in Stoke Newington (and, for a time, having a pop-up in Stratford’s East Village), Olive Loves Alfie also runs OLA Mama! workshops, supper clubs and meet ups (Stoke Newington 8 mins).
- Miniature department store Luna & Curious’s kids’ section has proved so successful it’s moved into a place of its own – albeit in the adjoining shop under the gaze of its parent. Expect modern handmade toys with a traditional edge, comfy-cool clothing designed to endure the scrapes and stains of childhood, and cute accessories you’ll coo over in a silly high-pitched voice (Shoreditch High Street 5 mins).
Bab makes herself at home in the book corner at eenymeeny, Tufnell Park.