When it comes to winter, dressing ourselves and more importantly our children, it becomes not only a question of aesthetics but also quality. A mummy to two little boys and an avid skier of forty plus years, keeping the cold out and the warmth in, is second nature to me. With global warming and ever-colder winters, it seems that the need to wrap up, whether it be for school or for those walks to shul, shabbos lunch and beyond, is greater than ever.
Now, here in the UK, it’s easy to find cheap and cheerful clobber, but my quest as a mummy and a luxury lifestyle writer has been to source those brands that you wouldn’t necessarily find straight away. Companies that cater to real winter weather, where children enjoy the outdoors because they are well and truly prepared for it. These brands are often ethical and luxurious but most of all hardwearing and cleverly designed. Not the cheapest but then things don’t fall apart and can be passed from sibling to sibling and still look as good as new!
I’m looking at both footwear – frozen feet make for moody children. Many of the better-known brands horrendously fall apart after just weeks of wear. Plus, I’m looking at outerwear. So, coats and jackets and warm, well made, functional but lovely looking boots.
My first recommendation is for a brand that I came across this year. Perhaps you already know it? NUNUNU is Israeli. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to discover their collection. It also had me checking out their sizing to see what I could squeeze myself into – not that they don’t have an adults range, but the children’s is really at its heart.
Iris Adler and Tali Milchberg created a brand that transcends gender and stereotype. Black and white is their thing; dressing with attitude and style. Their down jackets look simple, yet are bursting with style and sense. 100% down keeps the warmth in, hoods are oversized for optimum cover, they possess hidden inner shoulder straps for when kids get too hot but don’t want to carry their coats, rather shrug them off! (I don’t understand this) They offer a handful of styles from black with shiny black stars to metallic silver with a fantastically edgy, diagonal zipper or opt for white stars on black. This brand is for the Zionist trendsetter.
My next choice comes from Sweden. Mini Rodini was founded in 2006 by an illustrator, Cassandra Rhodin. Dedicated to children, it aims to match clothing to personality. Stretching the imagination with design but always keeping quality, sustainability and ethics high on the list of priorities. Mini Rodini clothes kids from head to toe but I’ve chosen their outerwear for this piece because it’s cold in Sweden! They know how to dress their children for forest school, where they will go come rain or shine. Technically, their jackets are far superior to your run of the mill anorak. Highly breathable and water resistant, the fabric in the K2 Plaid Parka, my ultimate choice, is colourful and fun but most importantly functional – heavy-duty shell fabric with taped seams and BIONIC-FINISH ECO coating. This, in laypersons terms, means that it’s one of most water-repellant fabrics on the market today but doesn’t contain fluorocarbons – the norm for waterproofing. Fluorocarbons decompose slowly in nature and are even linked to cancer. So, none of this for Mini Rodini. Instead recycled materials that offer superior effectiveness and quality. Cuffs keep wind and snow out and reflectors keep kids visible through the dark winter afternoons. The parka comes in a number of designs and is great for those looking to stand out!
Footwear is another of my obsessions when it comes to children. My feet were measured and always in sensible shoes as a child. Never could I have the ‘trendy’ shoes of my choice. My mother always told me that they would ruin my feet. Of course, all these years later, I thank her. Nowadays, there’s no need to compromise. Again, I’m a believer in buying carefully. Cheap shoes never pay.
In the UK it’s taken a lot longer for the choice to reach us and still many don’t know what’s out there on the continent because it’s not readily available. Whilst you’re average children’s shoe shop can only afford to stock one or two styles, there are literally hundreds of well-fitting, hard wearing shoes and boots out there. The more demand from UK parents in the know, the more supply will come our way.
My top picks here are Lurchi, Superfit and Richter. All manufactured on the continent, the brands are head and shoulders above their so-called competition. Our continental cousins are used to cold and snow. So, expect hundreds of styles of boots. Waterproof, breathable, lined, stylish and in every colour imaginable. Both my children are hyper mobile, which means that ankle support is key. All these brands offer so much choice that it’s easy to find lots of styles that work.
Lurchi is the name of the mascot fronting the Salamander brand. Aiming to put the fun back into shoes, their ethos hits the nail on the head – children’s shoes needn’t be boring, or ill fitting. Lurchi is so well known, that he even has his own comic book. The company works on the premise of good shoes, healthy feet. ‘Fun’ for the youngest and ‘cool’ for the older kids. Quality is a given and there are literally hundreds of styles to choose from.
I love the Kuni boot. A winter snow-boot that’s fantastically warm and offers the foot good support. Made from Sympatex, a breathable, waterproof membrane, it keeps kids comfortable throughout the winter months.
For less severe weather conditions, check out the Barney Tex. It comes in an array of colours and again, is breathable and waterproof.
Superfit is another brilliant brand that all parents should know. Again, focus is on quality, functionality and kids. Boasting over sixty years of experience making children’s shoes, these guys know little feet inside and out. Their focus is on foot health and growing feet and their endless designs are built to withstand wear.
For this winter their Sport5 is my go-to trainer. Choose between a shoe and a boot and in every colour of the rainbow, wide and medium widths. Made with Gore Tex, again waterproof and breathable. Raised insoles and adjustable Velcro straps make for a better fit.
Richter’s motto ‘Little Feet, Big Goals’ takes children from first steps through to adulthood. Environmentally friendly production, superior quality and working closely with fantastic designers and orthopaedists bring this brand to the forefront of European footwear. Their shoes cleverly feature two removable insoles, one for fitting the shoes to the feet easily and the other made from fleece to make the shoe a more individual fit. Removing it equates to increasing the shoe width by one size. This also works really well if you pass shoes down. Lastly, expect 100% windproof, waterproof and breathability. Choose from a huge selection of designs. Every parent and every child will find something that works for them.
When you are off to the pistes, I urge you to look at Isbjoern of Sweden and Spyder for ski suits. Both feature clever, concealed seams to extend their clothing by one size when needed. Warmer and better quality than anything else out there, technically superior too, your kids will enjoy the snow all the more dressed in the proper gear. If you look to buy ski boots, (rent skis, nobody buys them!) I favour Lange but getting fitted is key. Solutions4feet is the only place to go. Head to Manbi for supatherm base layers and Coolcasc helmet covers that will make the kids stick out a mile. Staying warm and comfortable is one thing, getting lost another thing entirely!
By Caron Bluestone