Our world is changing rapidly, and so it is more important than ever to support local and family-run businesses.
As more people turn to online shopping, and as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes it harder for small businesses to compete with massive retailers, it is critical that we shop with our conscience.
Supporting local businesses is great because you know your own communities are benefiting from your spending choices, but these companies are often more focused on sustainability and fair trade than major competitors.
After all, when you purchase a $10 tee shirt made by a fast-fashion company, you need to consider that the garment was likely made from materials farmed in one country, shipped to a factory in another, shipped again to a warehouse, and finally into your hands.
That’s a lot of carbon emissions produced, and that’s just considering the shipping process, not considering the impact farms, factories and stores might have on the environment. It goes without saying that items made in Canada cut a great deal of these carbon emissions out of the picture right off the bat.
If you want to make this holiday season a little bit different by supporting companies that reflect your values, consider buying children’s clothing from Os and Oakes, a London, Ontario based company.
In this review, we will explore some of our favourite items available through Os and Oakes, as well as the company’s unique backstory and commitment to sustainability:
About Os and Oakes
Founded in London and producing most garments in Toronto (the rest are accessories handmade into the company’s home city!), Os and Oakes is truly a family-run business. Created by a sister-brother duo, the company strives to make durable, fashion-forward clothing for both children and adults.
After giving them an earnest try, we were impressed by their delicate handmade accessories, their soft bamboo-based fabrics, and their reasonable prices compared to many other similar sustainable brands.
Rigid gender roles are so yesterday.
Honestly, there has never been a good reason why a boy cannot wear a dress, or why a completely basic tee shirt should be labelled “boy clothing”. Os and Oakes gives children (and grown-ups) the ability to determine their own personal style, without being bogged down by labels.
Ethical fashion means embracing progressive mindsets, and we are happy to see that Os and Oakes has chosen not to assign gendered labels to their clothing collection. For many people who are struggling with their gender identity or just tired of being told what they can or cannot wear, gender neutral clothing makes a huge difference.
Better Soft Than Sorry
Os and Oakes generally use a bamboo blend to make their clothing-- yes, you heard us right. Bamboo is not just for biodegradable toothbrushes or the panda exhibit at the local zoo.
When processed into a fabric, bamboo is actually softer and more breathable than many of the common materials used in fast-fashion (it can even beat out cotton and wool). If your children are tired of polyesters that itch or leave them feeling sweaty and hot, the natural moisture wicking properties of bamboo might be exactly what they need.
These days, it would be hard to find a $25 CAD dress at any department store or fast-fashion outlet that doesn’t break apart at the seams within a couple of weeks. Children’s clothing is an investment, there’s no way around that-- so you might as well invest that money in local communities and small businesses.
For $25, this black tee shirt dress offers longevity and sustainable materials that other major brands can’t. While it is on the lower end of Os and Oakes’ pricing spectrum, the company is generally quite reasonable given their commitment to Canadian manufacturing.
Apparel For All Ages
While Os, their fun ostrich mascot is a nice touch for young kids, do not be fooled- we found that this brand has a lot to offer adults as well.
In some cases, the adult collection simply offers larger sizes of the children’s clothing collection (perfect for anyone who likes a mother-daughter matching outfit every once in a while), but this is not the case across the board.
A lot of the adult items are worth a second look, including their beanies, tie-dye crew necks and work-friendly bamboo shirts, but we especially loved the stunning simplicity of this luxe headband.
Affordable Cloth Masks
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many of us were not prepared with what we needed to stay safe and healthy during this stressful period. While supermarket shoppers were fighting over toilet paper, many fashion companies were producing the non-medical cloth masks that we now wear on a daily basis to slow the spread of Covid.
Of course, many of us are familiar with the frustration of not being able to find a clean mask in the morning, which is why Os and Oakes has very affordable (under $5!) cloth masks on sale for both you and your kids.
Where To Shop
Given the times, the easiest way to shop for Os and Oakes products is to purchase directly from their online store.
If you are south of the border, do not worry, the company does deliver to residents of the United States, albeit all sales will be final. Canadians, on the other hand, are in luck-- if you are not satisfied with your order or run into any sizing issues, you do have the option to exchange your items.
Our Final Thoughts
If “flashy” is a term you value when it comes to fashion, Os and Oakes might not be right for you.
Instead, the brand is focused on making affordably priced staple items-- something you can wear to school, work, social outings, family dinners and then wash to wear all over again. In this regard, we were really impressed with the versatility of the clothes Os and Oakes had available.
Although it may be tempting to get all your Christmas shopping done at big e-commerce retailers this year, for similar prices, you can get ethically made sustainable clothing, with the added boost of being Canadian through and through.