Vancouver startup Tradle rents clothes as baby grows


A new baby-clothing rental business launching in Metro Vancouver is being billed as a zero-waste solution to dressing fast-growing babies and toddlers.

Vancouver startup Tradle will offer 10- or 20-item bundles of new or gently used clothes for newborns to two-year-olds.

Parents can subscribe to the service for $90 a month, then use the clothes as usual, returning them once their child has outgrown them, at which point they will be rented out to another family. The company allows for unlimited exchanges to accommodate growth spurts or changing seasons.

“There’s zero pressure,” said Blyth Gill, one of Tradle’s co-founders. “Some kids grow like weeds, some take a little longer. There’s no one-size-fits-all, so we want to be accommodating to the children’s needs and the parents’ needs as well. Parents have enough things to worry about. We want to bring peace of mind.”

Gill was inspired by a similar subscription service in Denmark founded in 2014 by Vigga Svensson. Gill believes Vancouver is ready for such a business.

“I’m optimistic Vancouver is the place to launch,” he said. “The community is so forward-thinking and receptive to this type of environmental, sustainable solution.”

Blyth Gill with some of Tradle’s baby wares in Vancouver. The soft launch was Oct. 15. Francis Georgian / PNG

Tradle’s mission is to create a circular economy, where items are designed to be durable, and can be repaired and used as often as possible. When they can no longer be used, they will be recycled or broken down, but not thrown away. The circular economy is seen as a panacea to the take-make-waste consumption mentality, which has contributed to the growth of apparel waste in landfills and incinerators in recent years. In Canada, an estimated 500,000 tonnes of clothes get dumped every year. In Metro Vancouver, about 20,000 tonnes ends up in landfills.

Tradle, which had its soft launch on Oct. 15, will offer basics such as onesies, tops, sweaters, pants, sleepers and jumpers. It has partnered with local brands, including Parade Organic, Jax and Lennon, Haven and Simply Merino.

The service can also be added to gift registries where friends or family can gift a subscription to parents-to-be — an idea that came out of extensive focus groups Gill and his partners conducted. The focus groups also revealed that most parents are OK with gently used clothes with some patches and repairs. What’s a big no-no are stains, so whenever an item gets stained with anything from poop to fruit stains or finger paints and can’t be removed, Tradle will pull those items out of its inventory.

Shannon Hartwig, a Vancouver mom, has been on a trial with Tradle for her two-year-old daughter Lucy since July and is a fan.

“We are really interested in the sustainability aspect of the business, especially for kids since they go through clothes so quickly,” she said.

She normally would buy her daughter’s clothes at consignment stores or clothing swaps, but has been pleasantly surprised by how stylish and good-quality the Tradle items have been.

She had been extra cautious about stains getting on the clothes, but said she was told by Gill to use the items as she normally would: “He said the intention was to get good-quality clothes that will last multiple iterations of kids.”