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Chinoiserie Chic • Mid Century Modern • Palm Beach Regency Vintage Sales & Rentals

THE LAUNDRY LIST

Child of the Seventies: Clothkits

LeAnn Stephenson


As a child of the 70s, I had a memorable talisman - among others, Mrs. Beasley was a favorite because she had a pull-string that made her talk. She said wonderful things like; "DO YOU WANT TO HEAR A SECRET? I KNOW ONE" or, "IF YOU COULD HAVE THREE WISHES, WHAT WOULD YOU WISH FOR?" I confess, I was all about "the secrets" and "the wishes" at the age 6 or 7. I even had an invisible friend, who I named Buffy Rebecca - in homage to the 70s series, A Family Affair. She lived on my Big Wheel. She would stand on the seat back when I rode it, which was often and at very high speeds down our steeply pitched driveway. When I reached the end of it, I would pull with a strong jerk on my hand-brake at the back right wheel, which produced a rather lovely black skid mark and a fantastic Indianapolis-style hissing noise. Buffy Rebecca would not be able to resist the centrifugal force and would fly off the Big Wheel, slam into the large Mesquite tree we had in our side yard, break her neck, and have to be taken to a hospital where she would be attended to by Dr. Marcus Welby, M.D. In the meantime, I would give an accounting of the accident to New York City's finest detective, Lieutenant Theo Kojak (played by Telly Savalas) who always said, "Who loves ya, Baby?," and then would give me an imaginary lollipop. In response I would say that "he" loved me, and that was that. Buffy Rebecca was pretty much abused, neglected and ignored by me, other than that. There were no deeply disturbing conversations or orders to paint the neighbor's cat blue - so, I'm not really sure how that happened! I was at home with my family watching Laugh In at the time . . . honestly! I had a friend, Julie, who had an invisible friend named Marilyn Monroe, and I guess, if the truth be known, I felt abnormal not having one.

As far as my wardrobe was concerned, it consisted mostly of Grandmother, Aunt or Mother-manufactured dresses or smocks that we paired with stirrup pants at first and then bell-bottoms later. I was a tall child, even back then, so stirrup pants on my lengthy legs more closely resembled the pants that one might wear as part of their baseball uniform, though that was not the look I was striving for. However, if I had lived in the UK, and been aware of, or had access to Clothkits I would have been rockin' that look to the max!

Started by Anne Kennedy in 1968 and run from her kitchen table, Clothkits was one of the original 'Mompreneurs' in the craft business. Hugely successful, Anne's idea was simple, design groovy, graphic clothes and accessories for kids. She would print the pattern onto high quality cotton or corduroy fabrics in multi-sizes and send them out by mail-order with little packs of notions. This allowed Moms with even the most basic sewing skills to make their childrens' clothes with pride.

Kay Mawer
, bought the old Clothkits business in 2007 and promptly relaunched it. She has created a fantastic new range of Clothkits for the modern kid. She stays true to the heritage of this iconic brand by raiding the Clothkits archives. Projects with contemporary artists and designers form the core of the business. Partnerships with screen printer Jane Foster and papercut artist Rob Ryan are some of her most recent collaborations.

I'm thinkin' I'll be getting a couple for my daughter and me . . . who knows, Buffy Rebecca may even like one - I'll just be careful not to get a color that clashes with her neck brace!

Photos courtesy Clothkits