Austinite Pamela Torres launched a Classic Childhood clothing line for babies up to age 5 after transforming one of her husband’s old dress shirts into an outfit for her son.
When her job took the family to Spain for a brief period in 2017, Torres had free time and her husband’s shirts tossed.
Torres had grown up with an aunt who was a dressmaker in Mexico and took a home economics course in college, but that was her level of experience in sewing.
It didn’t turn her away. She found a model and made clothes for her son, Pedro, who was a baby at the time. He is now 4 years old.
“It was a very cute outfit,” she says. “I was very proud of it.”
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Her trip to Spain and other places around the world where she frequented children’s boutiques prompted her to want to create a quality children’s clothing line in Austin using recycled fabrics.
Now, she has opened a retail store in South Austin that doubles as a sewing studio for children’s clothing and alterations. The store, which opened in April, opened on June 12.
The store offers circular fashion. Torres uses cotton clothes that people donate, taking them apart to create children’s clothes from the fabric.
Classic Childhood recycles fashion
Classic Childhood makes rompers, dresses, shirts, shorts with removable straps and more from these recycled fabrics. On a single shirt, she can usually get two to three rompers. If the shirt is particularly stained or has a hole, it may remove smaller items such as a beanie or diaper cover.
She has items made from donated clothing for sale. People also bring her a favorite item of clothing, and she will turn it into an item of clothing for their child.
Classic Childhood clothing is built to last and many items are designed to be reversible to give an outfit more of a look.
Torres was inspired to create circular fashion when she learned more about the fashion industry. About 85% of old American clothing ends up in a landfill, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Even the clothes that have been donated do not always reach the next person. Reusing the fabric not only saves the fabric from the landfill, Torres says, but also saves water. The World Resources Institute estimates that it takes 2,700 liters of water to make a cotton t-shirt.
Torres has a few items in the store that feature new fabrics, but she chooses fabrics and brands known for their durability.
Building a business in a time of pandemic
Torres really got started with Classic Childhood in May 2019 after receiving feedback from a local entrepreneurial pitch competition in which she won the People’s Choice Award.
“It’s something that could work,” she said, she thought.
She started the business from her home, working with local seamstresses to cut and sew the clothes. People would drop cloth at his front door to donate.
Then 2020 and the pandemic arrived. She had recycled fabric. She had a rubber band. At first, people couldn’t find masks. She had the request. In March, she quickly switched from children’s clothing to making masks.
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People saw what she was doing and wanted to buy her masks. For each mask purchased, she donated one to hospital workers.
She occupied her seamstresses and her housekeeper became her fabric cutter to keep her employed.
“It was crazy,” she says of starting a business during a pandemic.
Torres kept the business afloat, but the children’s clothing line was on hiatus.
Taking Classic Childhood to Retail
Even when she made clothes, they were sold online, through Facebook or the website.
Last April, it opened its point of sale, which also serves as a workshop. She needed a work / life balance and that meant getting the business out of her house.
“Working from home was all the time,” she says.
She took advantage of post-pandemic retail real estate prices and found an empty store near Menchaca Road to transform into Classic Childhood.
Now she’s created the retail area in the front with clothes shelves and tables, and she’s built the workshop in a back room.
She also diversified the business by purchasing a vinyl cutter and an embroidery machine to personalize products like bags, blankets and water bottles. When you personalize it, she says, you make it last longer because you’re more likely to keep it. Classic Childhood also offers alteration services.
His son, who inspired the business, created his own space, which they call the cinema, in the store. Fabric panels cover a cozy space that includes a projector for watching movies on the wall when not helping your mother water the plants.
Torres says she believes her success will lie in more people discovering the store, online or in person, and getting more people to recycle their clothes into something really classic and sturdy for kids to wear.
“We’re starting to see it build,” she said.
2005 Southern Oaks Drive; classicchildhood.com
Classic Childhood uses 100% recycled cotton woven clothing or fabric. Item prices typically range from $ 30 to $ 42.
Grand opening: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 12