Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kids Clothing in Germany & Maybe Just a Little Too Much of my Opinion

As an American, I don't know if I'll ever get through Sundays here in Germany.....nothing is open. However, my friend just told me that closer to Christmas, some stores will have special opening hours for shopping on Sundays. However, it's only in the German, I'll have to keep an eye out to see what I can find out.

I'm still struggling a bit to find good quality reasonably priced clothing for the kids in the area. I have discovered a couple of places since I've been here. Most of them can be discovered by most Americans as well but, I thought I would throw it out there for anyone preparing for a move to Germany.

I highly, highly, recommend those who are moving to the area in or around Christmas time, to purchase snow gear for their children before departing the states. If there's no room in the suitcases, find out the FPO/APO address, and mail it so that it can be ready for the kids upon arrival. Baby stroller bunting as well! JJ Cole brand are nice and they now have water resistant bunting. Although snow gear can be found in the area, it's much more expensive.

Most of the time, I still purchase my boy's clothing online and have it mailed to us. I haven't had too much trouble getting packages here in a timely manner.

H & M Clothing is the gold standard when shopping for the kids. It's fairly priced (For German stores) and it will withstand washes. H & M is located in Kaiserslautern which is about a 20 minute drive from Landtuhl. The train can be taken there as well. Also in Kaiserslautern in the same shopping district is S. Oliver and Esprit. These companies both have adorable stuff but are ridiculously expensive. 20 Euro ($27) for a toddler shirt? No thanks! Keep an eye out though, Both S. Oliver and Esprit have point card systems and sales. I learned quickly that drying things in my little European dryer absolutely fries my clothes and they continually become shorter and shorter. Most of the time I still stick with line drying everything.

I count myself very fortunate in that I can shop at the commissary and exchange. The exchange seems to be lacking in boys fashion (and girls from what I hear) it still seems pricier than what I can find in the states on my own. If one is lucky though, one can find clothing for their kids there. Jeans are usually not a problem. The rule always is though, if I see them, I buy them right then in there. This goes for just about anything I see at the exchange and want. Otherwise, they will be gone. In Landstuhl there is a shop called Ernsting's Family. This is a chain store that offers an assortment of children's clothing and women's clothing as well. The prices are cheaper than H & M but, I've found the quality can sometimes be lacking. If something is needed in a pinch, it's worth it. Their outfits are pretty darn cute. My problems have always been the buttons to the adjustable waste falling off and the snaps not snapping on the shirts after several washes. Within Landstuhl there is also Charles Vogele Shop and Takko. Both have good prices but again with my experience the quality was lacking too.

Despite the quality complaints the fitted look on boys clothing here is appreciated. It just looks a little "sharper" to me compared to the baggier pants. I really like Children's place denim though. Same fit at Euro style but, much cheaper.

Besides price, I do really look for where these clothes are being made and under what conditions.
Not trying to be preachy....Ok, maybe just a little (here it comes) but I urge parents and consumers in general to try and buy local products. Meaning, things that were manufactured in the USA. I've decided to really work on this and make this a mission. I try and purchase products that were manufactured in the USA, Europe, or other countries that adhere to laws and standards for humane treatment of employees and respect for the environment. I can't always do it...for example Joshua's winter jacket. I tried to find something warm enough that was manufactured in the USA or Europe but, I just couldn't bring myself to pay nearly $200 for a boys jacket. I realize it's not always possible for people to do this. Sometimes it's just too expensive, but sometimes it's not or, sometimes the price difference is so minimal it doesn't really matter (For instance, pencils at Target; USA pencils made from sustainable wood (Cedar). A 24 pack for $1.00 vs. 24 pack for $0.30 made in China....I think we can all afford to pay a $1.00).

Also, look and see what's in the product and how it was manufactured. Here in Germany it's clearly marked if the cotton fabric is organic, if it was produced through fair trade and if any alternative energy was used during the manufacturing (ie: made using 20% solar/wind energy) America is starting to label it's products as well. I've also realized that my kid does not need a new backpack every year for school. We've bought him a red backpack that has a classic look and we sew patches on it of where he's been (I know, very grunge right?). Also, he's had his lunch pail now for 5 years. I'm planning on getting him a classic metal pale that he can decorate on his own and will last him for years to come. It's nearly impossible to find anything that is manufactured locally these days. I try to buy thrift store when I can or get second hand clothing (It saves money and I'm not investing my money into China or some other country that doesn't promote healthy working conditions or adheres to environmental standards) There are not many thrift and consignment stores here in this area of Germany (There are some in the Kaiserslautern shopping area and I just spotted one here in Landstuhl I'm planning on checking them out soon). They do have flea markets though. Just about all the major military bases in this area also have thrift stores. They are also all on facebook. Unfortunately the season is just about over with for flea markets. Come spring though, I'll be prepared.

Don't worry, I'm not a judgy-mcjudgerson......if I ever meet any of my readers or, my family, I usually don't preach to their face or debate with them or lecture them. Honestly, I can't stand it when people do it to me. For the most part it doesn't help and it makes me more abrasive and closed off to the cause they are trying to make me aware of. Blogging is my outlet. I get to send out my opinion through cyber space and not push it on the people around me. My hope is that it educates folks and sparks a little fire inside of them. It also saves me from loosing friends!

Be a conscious consumer and make the right choices when it's possible! Our buying power is strong. Americans are the world biggest consumers.....what we buy says a lot about who we are and what we will stand for.

Side note: Also looking into the whole chocolate thing.

OK, I've said my 2 cents and now I'm sticking a cork in it. Happy shopping!