Ever-growing numbers of families are swapping the extortionate costs and time-poor, stressed out lives they lead in London and other cities and choosing instead quality of life in semi-rural locations.
I should know; I did the same thing myself five years ago with my husband and two children, leaving the Big Smoke to move to a village near Burford in the beautiful Cotswolds and we haven’t looked back.
One thing that I do miss, though – is the range of choice bigger cities offer when it comes to fashion and style, particularly kids fashion, for which I am passionate about.
I worked for many years as a picture editor for national newspapers and glossy magazines, (I still freelance when time allows) often working on photoshoots for childrenswear. When I started out, on family titles, the children’s sector was very limited so we had to use the same few brands for shoots – Freeman’s Catalogue, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare and the likes. All perfectly pleasant but predictable – think pastels and primary colours. You just couldn’t find independent labels back then. French catalogues La Redoute & Verbaudet injected a little European twist into the scene but they were the exception rather than the rule.
Around the time I had my first child, cool and exciting independent brands and stores were springing up in this sector. I was hugely inspired by a friend who opened a kids’ lifestyle boutique, close to our home in Kensal Rise, selling stylish Scandinavian design led products. I loved discovering unique and trend focused styles for children. It was a real eye-opener to see how things had changed so much in a few years, and it was exciting.
But once we made our move to the country I was left with either having to shop online or head back up to London for some ‘proper’ shopping, and to inject myself and my children with a quick style fix. Stylish children’s emporiums were as good as non-existent in the country – and sadly, they still are.
Shopping online is fantastic. A lifeline infact! It brings the best of what independents are doing all over Europe and beyond – within reach, and that is ‘a good thing’. Instagram, especially, has been a revelation – customers can see so many of the latest designs and, just as importantly, it allows hard-working mums to push their businesses and their creativity while embracing the flexible working practices that all mums need to carry out their jobs.
In addition to the digital world, the tangible world- being able to feel the fabrics, and to touch the clothes, to be inspired is hugely important. Just as much as connecting with the products, real-world shopping allows us to meet some of these dynamic people behind the websites and Instagram pages, and hear their inspiring stories.
That’s why I created Kids’ Arcade. To bring the contemporary to rural towns and villages, and to champion the small, the quirky and the creative. Independent labels mean independent spirits – so I now devote my time to finding those who are doing exciting things in this field, making childrenswear cool and exciting and vibrant.
I run a series of pop-up events throughout the year at locations in and around the Cotswolds. We connect parents with emerging, smaller retailers ‘up close and personal’, to be inspired to make the right choices without having to schlep up to the big city, trawl online or keep visiting the same shops because these buzzy unique labels are simply not on your radar – yet.
We turn buying clothes for the kids into an event – think complimentary champagne and stylish venues, bringing fun and glamour to your shopping experience. Why should womenswear have all the fun!?
The next Pop Up is on April 27th at the fabulous Bull Hotel in Fairford with a Cheltenham Pop Up planned for June.
You might even want to make a day of it and have lunch with a few friends!
It promises to be a lot of fun, and I’m really excited about the range I’m curating for the event. I think you will be too… See you there!
A Guest Blog from Rachel Bisiker