Barn Of Monkeys
Barn of Monkeys is quite a young fashion brand, founded in Portugal in 2016. Nevertheless, it has already developed its own distinct character with strong social and cultural values. Due to a special focus on quality, artistry and eco-responsibility, the collections are made in Portugal, using only high-quality and GOTS-certified fabrics and no animal fur nor leather is used. Best of all, most garments display a unique design and exclusive prints. The result is children’s fashion which is thoughtful, snuggly and lively at the same time.
To get to know more about the Barn, we had the pleasure to talk to Rita Resende, who is responsible for the sales and communication of the brand. She's the bridge between the creators and everyone who’s interested in the brand. Here is what she told us.
KINDA: Barn of Monkeys … that sounds like … a barn of monkeys :). Can you explain where the name comes from?
............ Rita: »All the team members got really creative when it came to naming the brand. We wanted a name that reflected us as a creative lab and community. We are better together, that’s the point!«
KINDA: How did the team members get together? Was there a common spirit right from the start?
............ Rita: »David, our fashion designer, and I already met in college and have been friends ever since. His master thesis focused on unisex fashion and how to break gender stereotypes in fashion. When he was approached by Barn of Monkeys founders Adilia and her husband Luis, who where just starting the Barn, he recommended me for this exciting new project. Our graphic designer, who is very focused on expressing his visions through free-hand drawing, joined the team soon after.
During our interviews and first meetings, we quickly discovered our common interest in ecological supplies and how to create beautiful designs using organic materials and sustainable features. Adilia and her husband Luis are parents of three children. They are our best critics who wear our pieces all the time and give their honest feedback on everything.«
»The overall point of slow fashion is to slow down mass consumerism.«
KINDA: We think it’s very honourable to make clothes which last for a lifetime. However, wouldn’t it - financially spoken - be more attractive to sell more instead of saving raw materials for the future?
............ Rita: »The overall point of slow fashion is to slow down mass consumerism. To buy according to your needs: quality over quantity. In terms of turnover, it would be much more attractive to promote the classic 'more, more, more'. Yet for us, it's more important that Barn of Monkeys reflects on who we are as human beings. After all, we put quite a bit of ourselves into each collection.«
KINDA: Can you explain your idea of gender-free clothing? Does it mean no more pink or dresses for girls and the end of light blue and trousers for boys?
............ Rita: »The gender-free concept is one of our main steps towards sustainability. It allows every item to have a longer lifetime, passing through the generations and promote once more quality over quantity. It also challenges the gender stereotypes of what boys/girls should wear, taking self-identity and self-expression to its maximum. The idea is not to exclude any styles, but to expand parents' minds, just like children expand our own minds every day.«
KINDA: Looking back on your own childhood. Did you already have an idea of environmental protection when you were young? If so, where did it stem from?
............ Rita: »In our team we have very different backgrounds and we talk a lot about this. We can’t really say that the concept of environment protection was such an issue then, there just weren’t many concerns. However, we were all taught to recycle, to avoid long baths and open taps while brushing our teeth in order to prevent the waste of water. Our moms made sure we understood the idea of ‘caring for the world we live in’.«
KINDA: Do you have a message about sustainability for today’s children? If you have children yourself, what do you tell them? Is there something special you practice with them at home? Kids are a reflection of their parents and the education they receive, I believe.
............ Rita: »At an early age, they don’t know about fast fashion and renewable energy yet, but it's important that they have good guidelines to live by and to make them understand the consequences for our planet if these are not respected.
That can start with a million little things: recycling, saving water while showering and brushing teeth, choosing card packaging over plastics, understanding the threatened species and stand up for them on school projects - and being aware of what happens with other living beings on earth in general. Sorting out the toys they don’t use anymore, reminding parents that it's time to give them a new home and doing the same for clothing that's still usable: All these little things are important and bring us one step closer to a greener and kind(a)er world.«
KINDA: How does the partnership with your retailer »The Little Red Planet« work*? Are there a lot of upcycled Barn of Monkey clothes in Rwanda now? If so, have you seen any of them? Do they inspire you?
*the donation of textile leftovers to young designers in Rwanda and other African countries
............ Rita: »The textile industry belongs to the ones that hurt the human footprint on earth massively, due to the huge amount of leftovers, among other things, like the heavy use of chemicals etc.
Doing our best to fight for a better world, last season, Barn of Monkeys started a partnership with The Little Red Planet, donating our textile leftovers to the “Africa New Life Foundation” in Rwanda, Africa. Suggested by Mindi, the owner of the store, these fabrics help young designers to pursuit their dream and getting the tools to invest in their education. So far, we haven't received any feedback or images from the foundation, but I’m sure we will see amazing creations from them in the near future! By participating in this beautiful project, we hope to minimize waste and improve the life quality of Rwandan young talents at the same time.«
KINDA: Looking into the future … Do you already have a storyline for your next collection to share with us?
............ Rita: »Next winter is already knocking at our doors and we will be presenting the upcoming theme from mid-January at Pitti Bimbo, as well as Playtime Paris and New York. The next collection AW19 »Inside the box« is the most challenging interpretation we've had so far, focusing on the ultimately powerful computer in the world, our brain.
The styles celebrate individuality, the curiosity of life-long learning and our growing process as human beings. And because the Barn likes to have some fun: there are illusions, mind games, senses and emotions to explore alongside the collection. ‘You only know you have a brain because there’s a brain inside!’ We're really excited to share all this with you soon.«
KINDA: Thank you very much for sharing your story and best wishes to all the monkeys in the barn!