Kids’ Hand-Me-Downs

By Lindsey, posted 20/05/21

The best kept secret in sustainable fashion?

As a child we’ve all either handed something on (or down!) or been the recipient of a hand-me-down item ourselves – continuing the useful life of the garment and saving families some money in the process.

One thing that can’t be denied about children is that they keep growing, and a lot of the time their clothes are far from worn out by the time they are outgrown. It makes good sense to pass them on to someone who is the right size to make use of them. Many of these hand-me-downs happen between siblings, or extended family, but just as often they happen between friends, neighbours or even school communities.

We all know that some clothes last longer than others, and this becomes very clear when children have climbed, scrambled and played in them. Repeated washing can take its toll on poorly made garments but some of the best can be in circulation for years before they wear out. For example, Boden now put extra space on the ‘This coat belongs to’ label to accommodate four different names, encouraging their customers to pass it on again and again!

Here are some tips to get the most from every hand-me-down:

  • Before you pass it on, is there a sibling in your house that could wear it in the next couple of years? Wash the garment and store it somewhere safe and dry until you need it again. Kids clothes – especially for younger children – don’t quickly go out of fashion.
  • Is it fit for reuse? Nobody will thank you for torn and stained kids’ clothes! Find another use for them – upcycling, giving to an animal shelter or finding a textile recycling point using
  • Ask your friends and neighbours with children if they could make use of some kids’ clothes and remind them to pass them on again once they no longer need them.
  • If you have no clear route for your hand-me-downs, there are a number of groups on social media where you can advertise bundles e.g. “Clothing bundle for boy/girl age 3-4” You can offer them for sale or for free.
  • For school uniform, ask your child’s school if there is a ‘Nearly New’ sale that you can donate clothes to. If not, why not start one yourself or suggest it to the PTA? The clothing donations can then be sold on at low prices to other families, with the proceeds topping up school funds.

Of course, hand-me-downs needn’t stop once you’re an adult! We can apply a lot of the same advice above to adult clothes. Nearly New school sales can be replaced with clothes swapping parties (sometimes known as schwopping), which are a fun way to give a piece of clothing a new lease of life and to refresh your wardrobe.

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