Pleated Clothing Designed to Grow With Your Kid
On average, children grow seven sizes in just their first two years. As a result, parents end up spending an average of nearly $3,000 on clothing—much of which ultimately joins the 17 million tons of clothing that finds its way into landfills every year—before their child reaches the age of 3. Considering these realities, aeronautical engineer Ryan Mario Yasin wondered: What if children’s clothes could grow with them?
In 2017, while a global innovation design student at both Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, he devised an answer: Petit Pli, an award-winning collection of expandable garments that follow the many functions of children. Everything the company makes must pass what it calls the “Mars test”—in other words, be suitable for a trip to the red planet—and therefore be versatile, comfortable, pared down to the essential, and tough (as a replacement item from Earth would take about seven months to arrive). With this in mind, Yasin’s designs are largely informed by aerospace technology, in particular, that of deployable satellites—huge structures that are packed down using origami-inspired folding patterns, then unfurled once they reach outer space. To achieve a similar functionality, the fabric of Petit Pli’s pants, shirts, and accessories features a patented structure that expands both horizontally and vertically, adapting effortlessly to the ways children move and develop. Its “MiniHuman” garments are designed for babies aged 0 to 12 months, while its “LittleHuman” pieces can be worn by toddlers anywhere from 9 months to 4 years old.
This remarkable flexibility doesn’t come at the expense of durability. Petit Pli uses a ripstop fabric—which employs a special reinforcement technique that makes the material resistant to tearing—and sews in hidden reinforced knee patches on its trousers. Treated with a biodegradable water repellent, each item can also stand up against rain, wind, oil, grease, and dirt. Outfitted in Petit Pli, kids can splash, scrape, slide, leap, and frolic to their heart’s content. And in addition to meeting children’s needs, the garments also address those of the planet: Made from upcycled plastic bottles, the company’s water and carbon footprints are little to none.
Last year, Petit Pli introduced a line of adult wear, which fits sizes extra small through extra large—an adaptability particularly useful for pregnant people—as well as an expandable face mask, which earned a spot on Time’s 100 Best Inventions of 2020. Accolades aside, it’s versatility that makes Petit Pli’s designs most impressive, offering people of all ages gear to last, freedom to roam, and, perhaps most importantly, room to grow.