Classic Childhood founder Pamela Torres was inspired by the women in her family to dedicate her life to creating sustainable clothing for all children.
By Tori Klein, Photos courtesy of Classic Childhood
Pamela Torres grew up in Mexico, where she spent her childhood with her grandma and two aunts, one of whom was a seamstress. She picked up her family’s love of sewing and working with textiles and decided to make her son clothes out of her husband’s old button-down shirts. She turned this practice into a sustainable children’s clothing brand with a mission to extend the life of textiles through upcycling.
How did Classic Childhood come about?
When we took a trip to Spain, I noticed how kids dressed there, and I really liked the style. So I bought a bunch of clothes and books and materials. When I got back to Austin I started making stuff for my son. That’s basically how I started. My husband had these amazing shirts he was always donating, and I had started to save some. So I took those shirts from my husband and started making things for my son. Everyone liked them and my husband was so proud. I started thinking this could be a business that I really like because I have the model and I have the skill. Then we started putting out containers, telling my friends and the neighbors to see if they wanted to donate shirts that I could change into children’s clothing.
What does your upcycling process look like?
We take donations from individuals and offer 15% discounts for those who donate three or more shirts. We like 100% cotton shirts, but if the donated textiles are not that, then we can make something else with them. Our most popular product is the bubble romper because it can be worn in any weather and is good for layering. Our seamstresses can make about three rompers from one shirt. We’re working on coming up with other products we can make from the scraps that do not go into the romper. We sometimes make reversible rompers. Kids have explosions, so it’s nice to have something cute and practical and easily changeable. We allow our seamstresses to work from home. They’re moms and they need flexibility, so we try to support them in that way.
What are the benefits of upcycling? How does it compare to getting clothes from a secondhand store?
A lot of people don’t know that when you donate to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army, [your donation]does not always go to someone else’s closet. About 17% goes to someone else’s closet. The rest goes to a developing country and then into a landfill. There’s a big portion of it that’s not really going anywhere. If you donate your clothes to Classic Childhood, we will make sure there is a baby that is going to wear it.
When we reuse a shirt we save 2,700 liters of water. The production of new fabrics takes a lot of resources: water, soil, energy. And dyeing the fabrics creates pollution. When you create circularity on a product, that is the most sustainable form of fashion. It’s good to buy pre-loved clothes, but when you take something used and give it life again, converting something old into something new, that is even better.
On your website, you mention the Heirloom Collection. Can you elaborate on this unique collection?
This came from special orders. There was a grandpa who passed away, and the customer wanted to have a special piece for the kid that was just born, like an heirloom. So I created the Heirloom Collection and wrote a storybook that goes with it. It’s about this shirt that was grandpa’s favorite shirt, and they have adventures. They go to Brazil and Paris, and then one day Grandpa passes away and Grandma sends the shirt to Classic Childhood, where it becomes a bubble romper. So the shirt lives on in a new way. It’s a happy ending for a sad story, and it’s full of adventure. When you send your shirt and we make a romper for you, you get a storybook.
1. Heirloom Collection
This is a sustainable form of producing something new and meaningful from an upcycled shirt.
Our mission is to increase the life of existing textiles. At our sewing studio, we offer alterations of all kinds. We want people to come here and fix their clothes. The longer we can keep the clothes we have in our closets, the better it is for Mother Earth.
3. Embroidery and Monogramming
We also offer embroidery and monogramming at our studio. Making pieces special is something that attaches value to the clothing and keeps it from going into landfills.
Classic Childhood is having the celebration of its Grand Opening this Sat., June 12th, 9 a.m to 1 p.m. Click here to register for the event, where there will be yoga, face-painting and kid-friendly snacks.