When I went to the BritMums Live! conference in the summer, I entered lots of competitions – the general way to do it was place your business card with blog name and contact info in a big receptacle of some sort and hope for the best. Needless to say I didn’t actually win anything (I never do), but one competition that I distinctly remember thinking would be amazing to win was the one by ‘me&i’, a children’s clothing company founded in Sweden in 2004 by two Swedish mums who’ve been in the UK since early 2011. They were offering such a cute little outfit that was being modelled by a mannequin just the same size as Andrew, and I thought he would look gorgeous in it, if I won it (a big ‘if’, I know!)
So when I was recently contacted by Pernilla at me&i, I was keen to find out more about the company and their products. All their clothes are made in Europe by manufacturers who look after their workers properly and ensure that the dyeing and printing processes don’t damage the environment; the clothes are also Oko-tex labelled, guaranteeing that they’re free from harmful chemicals. Another great thing is that the fit and fabrics are carefully chosen to be durable and perfect for playing in. All these things are good to know as a parent choosing which clothes to buy for my children. But, most importantly, as well as being ethically-made, environmentally-friendly and long-lasting, the clothes are fun and colourful with playful prints and patches, which means kids will look great as well as feel comfortable in what they’re wearing. In fact, me&i clothes are tried and tested with a panel of children for both comfort and looks.
The way me&i sell their clothes is through home parties, where a hostess invites some friends round who then all get to look at a selection of clothes up close and take their time in deciding whether to buy anything. Although this is something I’d be interested in doing in the future, I of course can’t commit to anything right now with baby due any day. So instead Pernilla suggested that Andrew try out one of their products and I write a review on the blog – I was happy to take her up on this offer, and I was sure Andrew would be happy to model it and give it a road test!
The piece of clothing she sent me was the ‘spiky body’ – a long-sleeved body top with popper fastenings under the legs and on one shoulder, in a fabric with a funky hedgehog print (cream and brown) and orange trimmings. My first thought, which Pernilla herself mentioned in the package too, was that it’s a lovely neutral colour-scheme that can be worn by both a boy and a girl – so it’s great for Andrew now and can be a hand-me-down for his brother or sister. I find it really hard to find fun-looking clothes that aren’t covered in either vehicles for boys or princesses and butterflies for girls. I usually go for darker colour clothes for Andrew, due to the inevitable food spillages and mud encounters. But the fact that this top has a repeated pattern of brown hedgehogs on the cream background means that the eye is to some extent drawn away from patches of dirt by the busyness of the pattern. The day Andrew first wore the spiky top, we went out for lunch and these days we don’t usually bother with a bib/apron, so he did get a bit of food down him (nothing too colourful), but this wan’t too obvious and came out fine in a normal 40 degrees wash.
The fabric has a lovely soft cotton feel to it, and it felt good to put it straight on Andrew without washing it first, which I don’t always like to do with new clothes. The top also comes out of the wash feeling very soft still, and it dries pretty quickly compared to some of his other clothes, even in our small flat on an airer. Andrew was very impressed with the look of it, and was excited to put it on, pointing at the hedgehogs – a word we haven’t really come across much when talking/reading to him, so this top has also been educational for him!
It currently fits him just about right, and is lovely and snug against his body, without being tight, a style which I like because it’s a bit different compared to the usual long sleeved t-shirts that you can buy in supermarkets and high street children’s clothes shops, as those are usually quite baggy on him (apart from around his nappy). And on that note, the spiky body top even fits over his big cloth nappies, which isn’t always the case for clothes that go around the bum, and he ends up wearing the next size up. Andrew probably won’t get masses of wear out of this top with the rate that he’s growing, but I’m sure his brother or sister will, and by the look of the fabric, I’m sure it’ll have even more wear in it after that. The cuffs have double fabric which makes them very easy to turn up, to fit a child who doesn’t need so much length in the arms compared to the width across the body, or to allow for more growing room.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with poppers under the legs on toddler-sized tops. Primarily they are a good thing, especially in winter, so that his tummy stays covered no matter how much running around, bending down and moving his body in all sorts of directions he does when playing. I’ve found it quite hard to find tops with interesting designs, that aren’t just vests to go under other tops, which also have poppers under the legs, so this is a real plus point for the spiky body top. The down side of poppers is the time it takes to get the top on him, because he just doesn’t stay still long enough to do them up! Usually our getting dressed time takes the form of me chasing him round the flat, quickly shoving a top over his head when I can and then finally getting trousers on once he’s had the promise of going out and is convinced he needs them on otherwise he can’t go out. The day he tried the spiky top on for the first time, my parents were staying, and it was helpful that Grandad could distract him whilst I came from behind and did up the poppers. But overall I think it’s worth the extra faff for the extra warmth around his tummy on cold days.
Another plus point for the body top is that it has poppers on one shoulder, so it goes over his head more easily than most of his tops that I have to really pull hard on – he’s generally not that fussed about me doing this, but if he’s tired this can be tricky, and I’ve heard that many toddlers really don’t like the whole getting a top on experience because they are often tight over the head. Lots of young baby clothes have provision for making it bigger around the head (e.g. poppers or clever folds) but this seems to stop routinely in toddler clothes, especially at the cheaper end of the market.
Andrew is at the higher end of the ‘Baby’ section age range in me&i clothes – from approx. 24 months it’s the ‘Children’ section, which goes up to about 14 years. The sizes are not actually in age ranges (e.g. 0-3 months, 18-24 months etc.) but rather in numbers that I didn’t understand to begin with; however, after a quick look at their website, I soon found a handy size guide that made perfect sense, and if I was buying at a party, I’m sure there would be some guidance available. Whilst on the website, I also came across the cost of the spiky body top – £19 each for any size from 0-2 months to 12-24 months. Although this is on the higher end of toddler clothing prices, and definitely on the higher end for baby clothing, in my opinion it’s a case of you get what you pay for – the knowledge that it’s quality fabric that will last and is environmentally more sound than other children’s clothes brands, and that it hasn’t been made in a sweat-shop in the Far East somewhere. I personally wouldn’t be able to afford to deck Andrew out in many me&i clothes, but it’s the kind of thing I’d suggest to grandparents and other relatives who like to buy him clothes for Christmas and birthdays, and buy the occasional thing myself as a present for him.
Overall I would recommend this body top as a good quality product with a funky, fun and unusual design that fits well. You can find out more about me&i on their website: www.meandi.eu
Disclaimer: All views expressed are my own. I received no incentive for reviewing this product, other than the product itself free of charge.
With thanks to Grandad for the photos