Kelli Milne Anarkid founder and designer

"Made by rebels for rebels.
If wearing our threads makes your kid a little mischievous, blame us.
And enjoy the chaos."


Anarkid is an organic childrenswear label that proves ethical clothing doesn't have to be boring. Edgy, cool and rebellious, Anarkid uses a mix of bold prints and colours to create stylish, yet practical, children's clothes.

We caught up with Kelli Milne, the rebel behind the brand, to find out more about Anarkid's beginnings, her thoughts on fast fashion, and why Anarkid is so passionate about creating ethical and organic kids clothing.

 

anarkid block stripe girls smock and matching bloomers

Tell us a little bit about you and your family
Hello! Our family is a hectic brood that consists of myself (the pack leader most days), my 8 year old, high spirited girl Ruby, and my 6 year old preppy Henry. We also have two crazy staffies, Money and Sydney (the pup) and Grace and Cookie the tropical fish!

Talk to us about Anarkid - how did the brand come about? 
I have been a Graphic Designer all of my professional life, which has enabled me to work for myself for many years now. Once my babies came along I really wanted to combine my love of design with my love of babies. Anarkid began as a baby brand, and has grown into a children’s label as my kids have grown older. I simply love creating, so it didn’t seem like much of a leap to move into fashion.

The reality, however, was much more of a transition! What started with me four years ago, a laptop and a garage, has now become a team in Melbourne and Sydney and partners in Europe and Japan.

anarkid organic cotton girls dress mustard hedgehog print
 
Anarkid is ethically produced using GOTS certified organic cotton – how important was it for you to ensure Anarkid was ethical and sustainable?
The more I learnt about fashion, the more important it was for me that we were supporting ethical practices. I'm an activist at heart, so I knew right from the start that I couldn’t align our brand with some of the horrible abuses that go on in factories with no monitoring or certification.

At the time Anarkid began, there weren’t a lot of brands doing organic; and the ones that were, were looking like organic brands. I wanted Anarkid to show that cutting edge fashion could also be ethical, and also offered at an accessible price.

What was your process when it came to choosing how and where your clothing would be manufactured?
Once the decision was made to manufacture organic and I learnt more about the supply chain, India was the logical choice. Many factories in India have adopted organic practices, which, when gaining accreditation means that they have to abide by very strict ethical standards for their workers.

I now travel to India 2-3 times a year where I am able to see first hand the working conditions, and what that means to the people and farmers involved in the process.

Kelli Milne anarkid designer at ethical factory in india
 
Since launching Anarkid, have you learnt anything about the fashion industry that’s surprised you?
Yes so much! I was really an industry novice when I started. I understood the design and advertising industry very well, but fashion - especially kids fashion -was a completely new world.

You think its such a huge endless world out there, but working in a niche industry makes you realise that its a small world. Competition is tough, and you really need to be at the top of your game, season after season.

I have incredible admiration and respect for the brands that kill it every season. It's like all art really. It always looks easy once you see the finished product, but I have a new respect for how hard that process can be!

Do you think consumers are fully aware about the negative impacts of the fashion industry? And if not, what do we need to do to correct it?
No, I really don’t. I think the reality of fast fashion, and the human cost, is so horrible that I think a lot of people stick their heads in the sand and pretend its not happening.

I realised early on in Anarkid’s journey that a lot of people don’t want to know that there is no possible way to buy a top for $5 and have people along the supply chain not abused. We have seen horrible things happen in the fashion industry in the last few years, including the factory collapse in Bangladesh which injured thousands, burning many alive. And yet the daily abuses that go on are even worse still.

Sweat shops are still rife in developing countries - child labour, slave labour, discrimination, unsafe work environments - and the truth is, if your clothing doesn’t have world accredited certification such as GOTS, Fair Trade or SEDEX, it is more than likely the working conditions of those who made it are unacceptable.

anarkid organic cotton hedgehog tee and hedghog black leggingsImage credit: @_louiseheather_

Are there any other measures Anarkid takes to be sustainable in the day to day running of the business? 
We definitely try our best to be as sustainable as possible. Luckily the world is starting to catch up in regards to sustainability, so the options are getting more accessible. Other than our clothing, all of our packaging is either recycled or bio degradable. We also have implemented some great web based systems, such as online wholesale ordering, and internal communications systems with our factory to reduce our environmental footprint in regards to paperwork, order forms, catalogues etc. We are still learning in this regards, and we are always open to finding new and better ways to work!

A lot of your styles are unisex – was it important for you to create pieces that could be worn by both boys and girls?
If it was up to me, there would be no defining boys or girls styles at all! I think boys should be wearing pinks and florals and whatever they want really. And of course the same with girls. Wear the jeans, the shorts, ride those skateboards - there should be no rules whatsoever in regards to 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts'. 

hooded anarkid organic baby onesie starry night off-white

However we have to listen to our market, and whilst great advances have been made in gender stereotyping, we still find that a lot of people will buy specifically for boys and girls. We do our bit by always showcasing our range unilaterally, but I hope that one day we will just showcase a range, without even having the use the work 'unisex' - just 'clothing'!

If you could change one thing in the world for the next generation, what would it be?
Well that is a big question. If I could, I would eliminate ‘Greed’. If we could eliminate greed and replace it with compassion it would solve just about every issue that infects our world.

We would ease up on consumption; be able to resolve poverty and starvation; there would be no need for border protection, or wars. Love, art and kindness would prevail. And wouldn’t that be a beautiful world?