Imagine buying the cutest little Dolce & Gabanna suit for your child, only to have them outgrow it before the end of the year. While it is true that stretch t-shirt fabric, expanding waistbands and button pant extenders come in handy for growing children, for many years, that has been about as exciting as it gets. That was until Royal College of Art College Graduate Ryan Mario Yasin came along and invented a pleat system that allows clothes to tackle growth spurts.
The aeronautical engineer's innovative expandable Petit Pli range offers baby clothes that stretch to fit children as they grow. How? A set of permanently pleated folds let clothes 'unpack' when pulled, as children get bigger. Despite a vested interest in high-tech textiles and shape memory polymers, pleats were a 'market-ready' no-brainer for Yasin.
The designer came up with the idea for Petit Pli after buying clothes for his nephew which no longer fit by the time they turned up. He is researching ethically-sound manufacturing possibilities and working on raising investment to retail his collection, which features waterproof and windproof outwear, including cute all-in-one bodysuits, sized to fit children aged six to 36 months.
Yasin hopes that creating kids' clothes that last longer will help reduce the huge amount of waste generated by the garment industry.
"Children outgrow their clothes in a matter of a few months, yet we clothe them in miniaturized adult clothing, as opposed to designing them from the ground up," he said, adding that "with 11 million children in the UK, I thought it was time we redesigned children's garments."
In fashion circles, pleats have been steadily making a comeback and Issey Miyake has long been in the forefront. The fashion-tech focused Japanese fashion house continues to develop its trademark plissé pleating and 3D Steam Stretch technology to create highly desirable womenswear. Issey Miyake's origami-like creations are folded by steam and woven from scratch from yarn into fabric, as opposed to being moulded or pre-formed. Meanwhile micro pleats have been a key trend for a few consecutive seasons at other brands including Marni, Christopher Kane and MSGM.
Additional reporting: Cheryl Chan