Tea Collection makes children’s clothing that’s inspired by travel

Twice a 12 months, the designers at child’s clothing label Tea Collection hop on a aircraft to a brand new nook of the globe–lately, it was Peru and Japan–seeking inspiration. The following season, onesies may function flowers native to Machu Picchu or sweaters inspired by Kimono wraps.

It’s an uncommon design technique for a model dedicated to infants, toddlers, and younger kids, a lot of whom have but to depart the nation. However founder and CEO Leigh Rawdon believes that it’s by no means too early to immerse youngsters in international design and new cultures. She launched the San Francisco-based Tea Collection in 2002 and has slowly grown the corporate right into a enterprise that generates upwards of $45 million in annual gross sales—and has a cult following amongst travel-loving dad and mom. Because the model heads into its twentieth anniversary celebrations subsequent 12 months, it’s re-releasing a few of its biggest hits from its archives.

[Photo: courtesy Tea Collection]20 years in the past, when Rawdon was learning the market, she noticed that almost all child and child’s garments was fairly generic, with a number of bunnies and geese in pastel colours. As a mom herself, she didn’t suppose these clothes squared with the values of many dad and mom, who had been keen to boost open-minded kids who had been curious in regards to the world round them. So she got here up with the concept of making garments lined in patterns and prints that will pique a toddler’s curiosity in different nations.

She determined to name her nascent model Tea Collection, referencing a beverage that’s consumed in virtually each tradition, however is appreciated in numerous methods, from the formal Japanese tea ceremony to Southern candy iced tea. “It wasn’t actually about giving them an schooling,” Rawdon says. “It was about giving them a bit of style of India, Greece, or Zimbabwe. It makes these phrases and cultures extra acquainted to them, so it doesn’t really feel like a distant place. I feel it’s good enjoyable for the dad and mom too.”

[Photo: courtesy Tea Collection]Tea Collection has a staff of designers that creates prints from scratch. Once they go on their twice-yearly journeys to a special nation, they take within the native artwork, meals, and structure. Then, somewhat than merely slicing and pasting native patterns onto clothes, the designers translate them into prints they suppose might be partaking to kids. For the 2021 Portugal assortment, as an illustration, the Tea’s designers had been fascinated by the flowery ceramic glazed tiles that cowl all the pieces from the partitions of prepare stations to eating places to church buildings. Once they bought again to their San Francisco design studio, they created floral blue prints for clothes inspired by blue tiles; inspired by photos of fish, octopi, and birds on tiles, they created t-shirts adored with these animals.

[Photo: courtesy Tea Collection]Over time, it’s been vital to Rawdon to make sure the corporate continues to convey this ardour for travel to the world. She realized that it was a bit of unfair that solely designers bought to go on these international adventures, so she now provides all staff a travel stipend that they will put in the direction of a vacation. (Quite a lot of this travel has been placed on maintain throughout the pandemic, nevertheless it’s starting to choose again up now, Rawdon says.)


For the vacations, Tea’s designers had been inspired by a current journey to Sweden. They’ve give you pajamas for the entire household that includes bears, horses and rabbits, inspired by conventional Scandinavian patterns, together with forest scenes inspired the pine and spruce timber within the north of Sweden. The model additionally launched special day outfits in conventional Nordic Fair Isle and plaid, together with an lovely hooded sweater that can make your child appear like a gnome.

All through all of subsequent 12 months, Tea Collection will roll out beloved prints from the archives. Beginning in January, it’s going to launch its biggest hits from Mediterranean nations, and starting in March, it’s going to launch items inspired by Southeast Asia. For followers of the model, it’s an opportunity to revisit previous favorites. For Rawdon, it’s an opportunity to recollect all of the corners of the globe that she and her staff have explored. “We’ve lined loads of the world over the previous twenty years,” she says. “However there’s rather a lot left to find.”

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