Clothing for adventurers, but not a technological fabric swatch in sight, Waddler is a new brand for kids, whose philosophy is a modern, transcontinental Swallows and Amazons.

The Waddler collection is a range of timeless pieces all knitted by traditional craftspeople in Bolivia using the softest Baby Alpaca wool.

We have the reversible bear/wolf hoodie and the Bombacha knitted pants for Gabriel now two, and they are just gorgeous. The feel is ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ meets forest school and campfires. Fun, cosy and cute. But add to that Fair-trade, international and very stylish.

 


The brand’s founders, Philip and Marina, believe in giving children the freedom to play and discover. To be wild and independent and explore their world using their own imaginations. And they are certainly living life according to that spirit with the brand inspired during a year travelling in South America with their baby son.

Fluxlings interviewed Waddler founder Philip Thompson on travel and clothes for adventure. A bit savage, but with cuddles at bedtime, Waddler let the wild rumpus start!

FLUXLINGS: When did you shoot the AW images? And where is the location – it looks just wonderful – can you tell us something about it?

PHILIP:We shot the AW images in December last year on the southern shores of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Our clothes are produced in nearby La Paz so it wasn’t too much trouble to bus everyone up there! It is the highest navigable lake in the world – at over 4 km above sea level it’s almost the height of Europe’s highest mountain. And that’s just the lake level, there are peaks towering above it in every direction! As well as being a little like going up in space, it feels like you have gone back in time. the local people fish and grow crops just as they would have done under the Incas 600 years ago. The rarified air and light combined with this ancient lifestyle give the place a wonderful other-worldliness. The perfect place for a magical photoshoot!

FLUXLINGS:Who are the children in the shoot? They look they are having a great time.

PHILIP:The two blond children (Finn who is five and Jimmy who is one) are ours and the rest are the kids of the knitters and the photographer. It was a real adventure for them all as we managed to convince the fishermen to rent us a few boats. So the kids got to sail on lake Titicaca, making reed fishing rods and later played with carnival cow costumes, next to the bemused looking local cows. We finished up with a ceremony made by a genuine shaman who was a friend of one of the knitters. He made an offering for everyone present and for Waddler in the traditional Bolivia way.

FLUXLINGS:What gave you the idea for the label and how did it start?

PHILIP:We launched Waddler in December 2010 but conceived of the idea in 2009. We spent a year in South America setting everything up and then moved back to the UK from where we make regular trips back. The idea for the label came while living in Cusco, Peru and Marina couldn’t find any nice clothes for our son Finn. She had seen beautiful Alpaca wool for sale and so bought some and found some knitters to make some clothes to her designs. They turned out wonderfully and thus the idea for Waddler. We wanted to create a boutique kids brand that supported the idea of a free and wild childhood of independent kids relying on their own imagination and sense of adventure to have fun. Way too much over parenting these days! Our own adventures with our son were part of the inspiration for this kind of life.

FLUXLINGS:How does it work with your team/knitters in South America? Do you use all traditional craftspeople in the production?

PHILIP:Our clothes are produced by workshops of knitters in La Paz. Bolivia has ancient traditions of knitting and weaving that go back Millenia and are experts at working with fine Alpaca wool. We found them on our initial trip to Bolivia in 2009 by looking for the best quality work! We work to Fair Trade standards and ensure our knitters are paid more than 3 times the minimum wage. We also try to visit many of them in person every year and it’s always great to hear when someone has managed to save enough to build a house or buy a washing machine etc. We forget how lucky we have it in Europe.

FLUXLINGS:What is special about the Baby Alpaca wool you use in Waddler clothes?

PHILIP:Baby Alpaca is a name given to the fine hairs that grow on the belly of the animal – not necessarily from babies! It’s simply a very fine grade of hair. It’s super soft – similar to cashmere, hypoallergenic, thermic – has hollow fibres that trap heat/ release heat according to the temp, thereby allowing it to breath. It does not contain lanolin and so does not soak up stains, most food can be brushed off. Particularly good for kids! We also make cotton clothes as of this year – they are made from 100% organic pima cotton from Peru. Not live on the website yet, but they will be soon!

FLUXLINGS:The brand has a wonderful aesthetic from the design & clothing themselves, to the photography and even the South America wrapping paper I spotted on the site. What is your design background?

PHILIP:Well my background is in TV and print journalism and my wife’s in Drama and later in Art! Neither of us studied design but I don’t believe this is strictly necessary to be able to design something. All human beings are makers of things as my old Dad (a sculptor) used to say and I think he’s right. Both of us appreciate well made things from food to Art and I guess that sensibility transmits to our clothing designs. In fact Marina does most of the designing and I do most of the business, marketing etc. But there is a large amount of overlap.

FLUXLINGS:Where did you originally come from and where are you/is the brand based now?

PHILIP:I am from Cork in Ireland and Marina is from Fife, Scotland. Where we are based right now is a very good question. We have an office in Surrey where the business is based and we are currently looking for a home. Our ideal would be to spend half the year in South America and half in the UK. But the world is full of so many choices!

Waddler is available at www.waddler.co.uk.