Kindred Cloth: hand me down a custom-made heirloom
Beloved old garments find new life as beautifully designed baby clothes
Whether it’s the oversize sweater you hardly took off the first month of your child’s life or the lace miniskirt you loved to wear long before he was born, even our most cherished clothes have lifespans. And for pieces with sentimental value, the back of the closet has never seemed a worthy enough resting place. Luckily for moms who love clothes, and all the memories they collect, Kindred specializes in clothing reincarnation, transforming beloved garments into one-of-a-kind children’s wear. The creators of this bespoke brand are two moms from Germany who met fortuitously in New York through a meet-up group for new moms. Fashion designer Simone Leonhardt would admire the creative designs that Heike Jaroschowitz, an engineer, fashioned for her daughter. While bonding over their German upbringings and their daughters of the same age (Mona and Ada, who are now four), the two moms combined their experience in business and fashion to create the line. The brand works one-on-one with customers, who submit a garment and provide input throughout the design process to transform beloved hand-me-downs into unique baby clothes. Simone Leonhardt talked with us about heirlooms, motherhood, and business. —Artie Niederhoffer
Elizabeth Street: What was the inspiration for Kindred?
Simone Leonhardt: My mother sent me a box of children’s clothes that I wore when I was a child. I was amazed at the wonderfully simple shapes, the quality of the fabrics, and how well they were made. My daughter loved to wear them and, of course, her grandmother and I could share old and new memories featuring the outfits. At the same time, Heike was experimenting, and she had created her daughter a jumpsuit from the fabric of her favorite blouse. Kindred was sparked by our reminiscences about the simple beauty, preciousness, and lasting quality of what we wore as children and as a reaction to the notions of “throw-away” culture.
ES: Can you describe the process of designing these custom clothes?
SL: Customers start either by choosing a silhouette or model or an heirloom fabric or precious item of clothing they’d like to gift to the child. We then offer a few design options for them to consider, sending along sketches and often asking the customer to sketch as well. Then we craft the garment. We’ve worked with fathers’ luxurious monogrammed shirts, fine cashmere sweaters, and exquisite silks and prints from designer blouses and dresses. We are delighted by family tartans, Swiss lace, French embroideries, and lush velvets. We have also been approached with saris and dresses. We supplement the original materials with high-quality designer fabrics sourced through our contacts in the industry. Our seamstresses finish with French seams, hand stitching, and exacting detail. Then, each piece is delivered in a personalized organic cotton bag. Satisfaction is guaranteed.
ES: Your background is in fashion and Heike’s is in business. How does your collaboration function?
SL: We work fluidly across all aspects of Kindred, although I generally have the final say on design and Heike on business decisions.
ES: Can you speak about how you balance motherhood and entrepreneurship?
SL: We try and work while the kids are at preschool, but also often while our two girls play together. Preserving a healthy balance between motherhood and business means a lot of preparationat night to make the mornings go smoothly.
ES: What has the response been to this service so far?
SL: It seems that we’ve struck a chord, as people love the idea and the garments. It feels special to be involved in the creation of new heirlooms for your family or friends. There’s a lovely story already wound up in the giving of each piece, and, we hope, the groundwork for future reminiscences about simple beauty, preciousness, and relationship to the clothing.