Petit Pli, founded in 2017 by former aeronautical engineer, Ryan Mario Yasin, has pioneered a brilliant new idea to combat fast fashion, especially in the children’s clothing industry: clothes that grow with your child. After purchasing clothing for his nephew, Vigo, and realising that he had outgrown it by the time he received the gift, Yasin realised that kid’s apparel was a key part of the clothing industry which was not receiving enough attention in the move to sustainable fashion. The concept of Petit Pli is therefore simple; using an origami design based on satellite panels used in space, Yasin has created garments that grow up to 7 sizes, designed to last a child from 9 months to 4 years of age. All products have to pass the Mars Test, which means they would be practical for a trip to the Red Planet. Essentially, this means they must be versatile, comfortable and extremely tough - able to withstand the extreme conditions that children put them through! £140 million worth of clothing ends up in landfill annually and the Waste Resources Action Programme of 2017 sees extending clothing life as the fashion industry’s single most important opportunity to combat fast fashion. With this in mind, it is clear that this innovative brand, which aims to reduce waste by creating durable, long-lasting, high-quality clothing, is clearly a great idea for making the children’s apparel industry more sustainable.
Having won 11 awards since its foundation, including the H&M Foundation Global Change and ‘Best in Class’ in the Nike Circulatory Workbook, Petit Pli is certainly catching the eye of some big names in the world of fashion, and for good reason. They carefully consider carbon footprint and waste in every part of the supply process, from manufacture to recycling, truly embodying the concept of circular fashion. More recently, they have even branched out into the adult clothing world with the creation of clothes with grow with pregnant women and reusable face masks which promise to mould comfortably to every face. Although I think they could benefit from more transparency in the manufacturing process – there is almost no information on labour policies anywhere on their website – I am nevertheless very excited to see where this fresh new brand will go in the future.
Before even considering the materials used in their products, Petit Pli already gets huge sustainable brownie points from the concept of their products. The fact that their garments grow up to seven sizes means that just one item of clothing of theirs can replace seven other individual ones, significantly reducing carbon and water footprints, primarily due to the fact they don’t have to be disposed of. However, Petit Pli are not complacent in this fact and still strive to use materials with the least impact on the environment. First of all, their clothing is made of at least 6 recycled plastic bottles, which are turned into yarn and woven, and 100% recycled polyester. Such materials should be washed at 30 degrees or lower, reducing the amount of energy required in comparison to garments washed at higher temperatures. Furthermore, there is an emphasis on durability of fabric so it can last longer. Their ergonomic Ripstop fabric is resistant to tearing and ripping, and received impressive scores in the Martindale Test, which is intended to simulate wear and tear. Even their packaging to transport materials in is made from recycled cardboard and is designed to fold into a makeshift jet pack for kids to play with!
Moreover, when considering the product life cycle as a whole, Petit Pli’s products are very easy to recycle, as their mono-fibre construction (meaning they are composed of only one type of material) requires less energy to recycle after use. Whilst they currently rely on conventional recycling techniques which call for some wasteful water usage, they are looking at upscaling the Garment to Garment Recycle System in a partnership with HK Rita, a process which does not use water or chemicals to recycle garments into new products. Due to Petit Pli’s simple, no-nonsense designs, it is very easy to see where all of their materials come from: the only material that is unaccounted for on their website is the silicone used in their grippers, although this is still a better alternative to plastic as it is not derived from crude oil.
Whilst Petit Pli go into great detail about their materials and sourcing, they are less open about their manufacturing process, perhaps as this is a patented product. Nonetheless, as consumers trying to make informed choices, it is important that companies are truly transparent with their information. The information they do provide, however, is very promising. Their products are Oeko-Tex 100 approved, meaning they are verified to not contain high amounts of high chemicals, and Petit Pli promise not to use harmful chemicals in their manufacturing process. Moreover, they only have one factory in Portugal, which uses 100% green energy, including 30% entirely from solar panels. However, all of their products are also sent directly from London, meaning that not only do they have to travel from Portugal to get there, but this is also the starting point for all products. Considering they have now branched out to shipping to over 47 countries, this must have a huge carbon footprint, and maybe they should consider establishing more factory locations in other countries to rectify this issue and decrease travel. They do, however, promise to be zero waste and, although I would appreciate elaboration on this in the context of manufacturing, the fact that they use tissue paper made from the byproducts of their pleating process in their packaging is testament to the fact they don’t send anything to landfill. Overall, more data and transparency for this section is required to boost Petit Pli’s earth score.
Petit Pli is a small brand with a small team based in London and Portugal, which likely means that the CEO, Ryan Yasin, is very involved in all stages of the production and labour process. However, as was the issue with their manufacturing section, it is difficult to know when the information simply is not provided, especially with the issue of raw material extraction. There is no evidence that they pay a living wage to their workers, have a Code of Conduct that they stick to or audit in their supply chain to check that they are up to standards. As the UK and Portugal are examples of countries with reasonably stringent labour laws, we would hope that this reflects a lack of rigour instead of a cover up for poor labour practices, but Petit Pli seriously need to improve their transparency in this sense. However, the values at the centre of this company do bolster their rating, as they pursue a bottom up approach, hoping to educate the next generation and instil the values of slow fashion into them through their designs, as well as through blog posts and articles aimed at a young demographic.
Overall, this is a promising and exciting new brand, with potential to revolutionise the children’s clothing industry. However, shoot for the moon (or maybe Mars!), Petit Plis… There is still a way to go in terms of transparency.