At a time when we are working towards equality and empowerment Real Pretty Kind are nailing it when it comes to offering tweens the freedom to be whoever they want to be, encouraging body positivity and supporting them on their journey into tweendom. Katie Rockliff identified a niche in the market for a streetwear brand that spoke to the desires of tweens. We go behind the brand to discover what makes tweens tick…
Tell us a bit about Real Pretty Kind and how you came about?
‘The idea of Real Pretty Kind formed when my daughter hit school age. I’d spent the majority of my career overseas – first as an Interior Designer and then Brand Strategist in London and New York. I’ve got a passion for cities. The urban hum, and density of ideas and styles. As Bill Cunningham said “The best fashion show is on the street – always has been, and always will be.”
So moving into streetwear design was in a sense, an extension of that. Something that’s edgy as well as democratic, tapping into youth and popular culture, nowness and new ideas. Sydney’s distinct city-meets-sea take on this, and blue sky optimism, has definitely informed RPK’s style. The reason we design for Tweens began more objectively. Quite simply there was white space.’
Can you share your brand’s philosophies?
‘More JOY is the quest. Because joy is cool. The Tweendom (as we fondly refer to it) is an exciting emotional, physical and intellectual change. Yet, so many brands seemed to be offering the same unicorn and dinosaur printed merch. That, or celebrity mini me outfits that feel seismically out of tune with tween times.
So when we conceived Real Pretty Kind it was already about more than t-shirts. It was about championing tween spirit. That was the reason for our being. “Tweens to the front” became an implicit mantra.’
What is RPK passionate about sharing with tweens?
‘Cognisant of tween concerns, we’re Body Positive, Anti Bullying, Ethical and Fair Trade. Not fully sustainable but on our way to being. All of this is baked into our operations as a business. Manifested in charitable associations we commit moneys toward, the design of every facet of our products, our language, our size labelling, our non-airbrushing mandate, our eco packaging, free tween resources on our website and more.
Whilst what you buy from us might be a t-shirt, what you are also doing is empowering women from modern slavery; championing body positivity amongst our youth; and fostering people and planet kindness. Bit of a rockstar move actually. And all you did was buy a tee!
Everything from us builds toward maximum empowerment, togetherness and good times for 8-14 y/olds. Something we feel resonates with tween families.’
We are currently in unchartered territory as a society with the Covid-19 pandemic. That combined with the every day trials and tribulations of tweendom make for a very hard time to navigate. Do you have any advice for tweens and their parents to help get through this time?
‘We’ve actually just launched our RPK Rituals + Recommendations series for this reason. To lighten the load with more opportunities to be inspired, channel the emotions and escape if need be. These are wellness essentials right now – especially if you’re in #iso. The one catch all advice from RPK:
“Be gentle on yourself. Be gentle with each other.
And on dark days remember: this is tough but so are you.
Tell your friends you love them and laugh with them often.
Breathe. Sleep. Wear a mask. Repeat.”
I am a tween of the late 80’s / early 90’s and have such strong fashion memories (Stussy, Happy Pants, Koala Blue and perms come to mind!) What was your tween vibe? And has it inspired what you create today?
‘I discovered op-shopping in my tweens. It actually helped me develop my own style. Inadvertently, op-shopping became a distraction from what was trendy, which was liberating at a time in my life when what was ‘cool’ was becoming pretty important socially.
Shopping second-hand is an easy way into planet-kind spending so of course, it’s also part of RPK’s business model. The REAL PRETTY LOVED CLUB was devised for returns of all pre-loved RPK in good nick. These are then up-cycled or given to other tweens in need at Christmas. And anyone who donates to the club gets automatic discounts on their next purchase – a move that extends the joy of both that product and your love of our label.’
Is there something from your tweendom that you wish tweens of today could experience (like the adrenaline rush of getting to the loo and back in a commercial break for example!)
‘I often look at old printed photos from that time and feel nostalgic for when kids looked dorky in photos. I mean we really had no practice. Family snaps are hilariously uncool and therefore very cool! You can’t fake that level of awkwardness – it was 100% legit. Today’s tweens can’t pull that off with the flair we could!’
What is your wish for those in the throes of Tweendom?
‘JOY! The ability to make their own joy and share it at every opportunity. If you’ve got that, the rest will sort itself.’
What is your favourite RPK piece?
‘Tough one but if you’re making me choose then it’s the You Can Sit With Us tee. Our first slogan tee. Printed on organic cotton. Everything about this tee – its sentiment. Its cut. The talented mama maker Bu Irun, who makes it. This photo of Daisy (below), is daughter of a friend of mine – this epitomises the essence of what we’re all about as a label.’
Any more RPK coming for us mums?!
‘Yes! We totally misjudged the mama-love and ran this tiddly little test-run that sold out in a week!! I was so embarrassed. Everyone was wonderful. We now have quite the waiting list. But we’ll always keep some styles exclusively tween.’
Quick Fire Q’s
(Instagram) Fave scroll stopper:
@manrepeller for fashion and @apartmenttherapy for a glimpse into interesting people’s habitat
And @norah_yarah_rosa always leave you feeling on a high and @groovetherapy are great for dance inspo
@thewonder have a view on family life and inspo that really resonates with me
@mignonettetakespictures is just the go-to for joy-inducing-insta-cuteness
(Design Style) Less is more or more is more:
‘On the whole: Less is more for RPK. Tweens start to appreciate well made things. And whilst they may not articulate it in the way adults do, those things will become their favourite things. So if it’s fashion, that means cost-per-wear goes down because they’ll want to wear it all the time. Tick! Visually, less also leaves space for the user to add their own stamp of personality.
But beyond versatility and ownership I think the garment gets to be a richer multi-sensory experience, when the visuals don’t dominate. Freeing you to become more aware of the feel of the fabric, the shape around you as you move, and those lovely grin stitch and screen printing details. Oh and the cute little hello notes we pop on the inside of the label. I think it’s tough to do well but I love that challenge. But every now and then we do break out of our restraints and go a bit crazy. It’s good to mix it up. And fun when that happens!’
(Netflix) Can’t switch off:
‘I’m not currently crushing on any shows, however my major film crush of last year was Olivia Wilde’s ‘Book Smart’. By turns. Clever. Moving. Irreverent. Empowering. Funny as hell.’
(Motherhood) Defining parenting moment:
‘One of the biggest things my daughter’s taught me is that everything’s 100% smoother and faster if it’s FUN. Kids are all about that and I think it can drop in our priorities as adults and that’s a shame. The reminder is healthy.
I’m also more than ok with being vulnerable at times. We all need permission to be ourselves and find strength in that. But I imagine that’s hard to do as a kid when all you see are the highlights. We are messy and yet we rise. That’s what’s defining about humans. It’s our REAL and it’s beautiful.’
(Mindfulness) Quote that best sums you up:
‘There’s no one quote but I do have a guiding way I approach life and that it’s a great adventure (stolen Lou Reed lyric). Of course, that won’t make it fun or pretty all the time. But we’re ALIVE and that’s so huge I can’t not be motivated by it! And what we do with this life to expand who we are, make space for others and care for what we have – that’s what drives me on the daily.’
For more tween inspo checkout Minty Issue 14 – It’s Good to Give