Socially conscious, gender neutral kids threads
Say bye-bye to kids fast-fashion and hello to MINIMAL
It’s chic, socially responsible and can be worn by girls and boys with just about anything that already exists in their closets, MINIMAL is the antithesis to children’s fast fashion. Former New Yorker, Molly Leis-Cornelius founded the brand (like so many of us on a sustainable journey) after the birth of her son, Gray.
“As soon as I became pregnant, my husband and I immediately became more mindful of the things we consumed: what we ate, the products we used and the clothes we wore,” recalls Molly who is now based in Hong Kong.
“It felt more important than ever to live mindfully and to make a positive impact on the world for our son and his generation. While we were exploring a couple of business directions, we bought these wild shorts for Gray from an indie kids’ boutique at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok. They could basically only match with a simple, black tee. We thought it would be easy to find, but it wasn’t, so we made our own.”
Here Molly tells reveals her passions and MINIMAL’S simple, stylish, aesthetic, that’s socially responsible to boot.
Why do you think it’s important to keep things simple?
As parents, we all need to keep life simple. We believe in a way of slow living with style – an appreciation for less quantity and better value in all aspects of our lives. MINIMAL’s understated aesthetic and versatility simplifies parents’ lives and makes getting ready in the morning easy. Our gender neutral, seasonless staples encourage mixing and matching across boys and girls alike.
Why did you want to create a collection both boys and girls can wear?
I have a four-year old son and he loves to dance. When we lived in Singapore, we checked out numerous dance classes for toddlers. He was always the only boy and the only one not wearing a tutu! I could see how it immediately impacted his comfort level, confidence, and self-esteem. I think there’s room in our society to challenge gender norms so all kids feel comfortable being who they are, wherever they are, and whatever they’re doing. Girls in pink tutus are adorable, but it doesn’t have to be the status quo for toddlers’ dance classes.
What’s your favourite piece in the current collection?
My favourite piece has always been the black tee. The colour looks beautiful on young kids. This top was the inspiration for the entire collection. It’s a custom-dyed luxuriously soft charcoal black organic cotton and brushed bamboo blend tee. It’s our signature piece and best-seller.
Can you tell us about your sustainable and ethical practices?
Since the beginning quality, comfort and ethics have been our priorities. We currently apply sustainable practices to our fabrics, product design and lifecycle and we’re committed to improving as we go. We use sustainable fabrics like organic cotton and brushed bamboo with lower environmental impact. The quality of our fabrics and manufacturing techniques outlast fast fashion brands. Respecting fair trade principles, we partner with family run businesses to provide the best quality clothes for our kids and the best working conditions for our partners. We pay 30 per cent more than the standard production rate to ensure fair pay for fair work.
Our clothes are designed to last, minimizing environmental impact and maximizing wearability. Each piece of clothing is truly gender neutral, designed to be worn by boys and girls and across all ages. For example, our hoodie and pants are cut long so one size can be worn by a 4-year-old or a 6-year-old and still look great.
If we all work and live more mindfully, we can help reduce adverse environmental impact on our planet and community.
What do you love most about your job?
I love everything about my job! I’m happiest when I hear from fans and customers that they love the brand and the clothes. We’ve spent so much time working on our brand and perfecting the collection, that getting glowing customer feedback is the best feeling ever. I also love all the creative development, that’s my sweet spot.
Where do you find your inspiration?
We have lots of different sources of inspiration but one source is chic, ambitious mums; women who are stylish and socially conscious with a strong sense of individuality.
My son is also an obvious inspiration and motivator. He has a vibrant and rebellious personality that challenges us constantly. We strive to raise a human being who is daring, bold and adventurous. I think he’s most beautiful in simple, basic clothes that allow his own individual style to shine.
What was the last thing you bought your son?
Books. We receive them as hand-me downs and we return the favour to always share his pre-loved books. We’ve recently discovered his love for children’s theatre as it brings some of his favourite books to life. And we did just buy him a pair of all black Vans Sk8-Hi kicks.
What’s one quality you hope to pass onto Gray?
It’s hard to limit it to just one. Integrity comes first to mind. I believe strongly in following through and that our word is everything, being honest and genuine is so important. We also want Gray to be bold and confident so he can always express how he feels and what he needs – so that he has the courage to go for his dreams and make them come true.
What do you do in your down time?
Our favourite thing to do is to travel together, even in Hong Kong, we love exploring the tiny fishing villages and diverse neighbourhoods. On Sundays we make quinoa breakfast bowls, read to our son, cruise by a local playground, grab dim sum with a game of Geo Bingo or Memory, and try to meet up with family friends.
What can we expect from MINIMAL in the future?
We just wrapped up a fashion film that’s in post-production. And we’ll be launching a new limited-edition colour for our tees. We look forward to getting MINIMAL into the hands of more mamas and minis worldwide!