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This Childrenswear Line Is Made Entirely From Upcycled Men’s Shirts

Kallio aims to combat waste in the fashion industry by upcycling men’s shirts into children’s clothing.

Textile pollution is something of a dirty secret of the garment industry: A whopping 85% of textile waste ends up in landfills. As environmental activists raise awareness of the problem, more and more fashion designers are approaching garment-making with sustainability in mind. But for the most part, children’s wear designers have yet to join the eco-fashion movement.

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Kallio, a sustainability-focused childrenswear brand based in Brooklyn, aims to change that. “I worked as a menswear and womenswear designer for 10 years, and saw first-hand how much waste we’re creating as an industry,” founder Karina Kallio tells Co.Design in an email. Kallio’s adorable collection of dresses, tops, and bottoms for boys and girls is made entirely from upcycled men’s shirts. (Snip off the sleeves, cinch the waist, and an old button-down becomes a cute sundress.)

Everything about Kallio’s clothing, from its materials to its labels, aims to ease parents’ social and environmental consciences. Their goods are sourced, designed, and manufactured in New York. They’re sewn by a women’s collective in the Garment District, to support local industry and reduce its carbon footprint. The clothing is all cotton, so it’s easily recyclable itself. The labels on Kallio clothes encourage customers to consider how they care for them: “Wash only when stinky. Machine wash cold and line dry. No bleach nor dry clean. Repair holes. Hand it down.”

Now, the brand is raising funds on Kickstarter to open up Kallio workSHOP in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a space that will not only serve as the brand’s new headquarters, but as a place for fostering community and teaching sustainable design techniques to anyone interested. It will host other like-minded brands through monthly pop-ups, featuring an ever-changing array of sustainably designed apparel, jewelry, and homewares. It will serve as a venue for Kallio’s workshop series, where artists and designers will teach simple and sustainable design techniques, like urban gardening, re-imagining vintage, and food styling and photography.

“I anticipate that our workSHOP audience will be varied,” Kallio says. “I hope we’ll attract families, so parents can come and create with their kids. It will also be a wonderful place for designers to meet one another, network, and learn more about sustainable design techniques.” Anyone with a passing interest in design and crafting will be able to come in and learn new skills. “I haven’t found a place in New York that fulfills all these needs,” Kallio says.

Kallio workSHOP is currently raising funds on Kickstarter.

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About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.

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