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Parents often use the expression “in the blink of an eye” to express their astonishment at how fast their children reach adulthood. However, for those with newborns, the phrase is literal given that an average baby grows between 6 to 7 sizes within the first two years! While exciting, the constant wardrobe replenishment is expensive and also results in a lot of wasted clothing. To tackle the issue, Ryan Yasin has created an origami-inspired line of clothing that expands (or contracts) automatically, resulting in a perfect fit each time.
The designer, who is pursuing a master’s degree at the London Royal College of Art, came up with the idea after purchasing clothes for his newborn nephew, only to find the baby had outgrown them by the time they arrived. In addition to the expense, Yasin was also concerned about the environmental impact of the constant change of wardrobe. The process of making and distributing just 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of new fabric results in an average of 23 kg, or 50 pounds, of greenhouse gases. To make matters worse, the emergence of the “fast fashion” trend worldwide has caused garment production to double since 2000, with more than half of the clothing ending in landfills annually!
To find a solution, the former aeronautical engineer used his previous experience designing nano satellites to devise a way to fold synthetic material such that it stretches both, horizontally and vertically. The designer says, "The structure deforms with the movement of the child, expanding and contracting in synchrony with their motion."
The first prototype, a pair of tiny pants with pleats created by heating the fabric around a special mold in Yasin’s home oven, not only fit his baby nephew, but also his 2-year-old niece! After spending extensive time perfecting the process and testing the design to ensure the pleats did not fall open, Yasin is now awaiting a patent for his innovative design and seeking investors to bring the clothing to market.
For his inaugural line of Petit Pli (“little pleat” in French), the designer plans to release outerwear that is both waterproof and windproof. The durable clothing, available in gender neutral colors, will be machine washable and fold small enough to fit in a jacket or pant pocket. An added bonus? The grid-like pleats point downward, enabling parents to easily brush off rainwater or snack crumbs. Yasin plans to establish a take-back system so that worn-out Petite Pli clothing can be recycled into new fabric.
The designer does not expect parents to dress their children exclusively in his expandable clothing, particularly since the current designs use synthetic materials. But he plans to soon produce the infant wear in “a wider variety of garments” and hopes that Petit Pli will be able to make an “impact against over-consumption.” We sure hope he succeeds!