Immigrants decorate the US economy with their inventions, disruptions and overseas aesthetic, bringing with them ideas, bridging cultures and realizing their passion and dreams- the American dream. I recently came across Miriyam Ackerman from Barcelona who now calls New York home. She dressed her children in unity, wearing similar, coordinated fabrics and color. After numerous requests and remarks on playgrounds by moms, she was inspired to create Tohawi, epitomizing the very spirit of typical Spanish children’s wear- traditional, chic and incredibly cute. With the [American] internet glorifying the Royal Family, the royal children and their attire, Tohawi children’s wear has found the perfect time to launch a business for a market prime with an ever growing desire to enjoy European inspired children’s wear.
We talk to Miriam about the highly coveted Spanish ‘formal’ dress style, it’s history and how she has woven ethics and sustainability into her business.
I was born and raised in Barcelona with my six siblings. I always loved to be part of a big family. Our parent’s attention had to be shared, but the love I got from my siblings was and still is immeasurable. My mother used to dressed us in matching outfits. She loved to see the unity that coordinated dressing for her children would create.
About the European Dress Culture
Spain has always been a traditional country. We have had a monarchy for centuries. The royal children traditionally dressed in matching outfits so it quickly became a sign of status.
During the beginning of the XXth century, the North of Spain became very rich and affluent. A lot of industries grew and clothing became one of the ways to express this wealth. Bilbao, one of the largest cities in the north, always maintained a close relationship with England. There was an English boat arriving to the Spanish coast every day.
It wasn’t easy to find matching clothing for children at just any store. In many instances, families would have a personal tailor.
The elegance was shown at home as well. There were no t-shirts or sweat pants for any occasion. Pajamas were gowns for women and girls and while men and boys wore button down pajamas.
Fast forward a few centuries and we are currently experiencing a different culture to the past, altogether. In an ironic twist, it appears that children have more power now over their choice of clothing. They get to pick what they want to wear to illustrate their personality. On the other hand, one could easily argue that we live in the era of comfort. We now dress our children in clothing that’s easy to wear and wash- be it ready to wear or casuals. In Spain, however, it’s a little different. You can say we’re ‘stuck’ in time but really what we do is make a huge effort to maintain and uphold clothing and dressing traditions.
The British Royal Family Clothing
The best English children’s clothing stores these days have Spanish founders. It comes as no surprise to me because Spain is one of the few countries that still maintains the tradition of dressing and it’s only natural that the U.K.’s best, in children’s clothing, hail from Spain. In addition, the monarchy is naturally attracted to this old heritage and tradition as that they are very much a part of.
The Birth of Tohawi
When I moved to NYC and started having children, I felt an inner urge to dress them in classical European style and garments that I saw growing up. I wanted to maintain tradition, even if I wasn’t living in Spain. I found a few boutiques with classic clothing but hardly any with matching outfits. As if out of frustration, I started making matching clothes and outfits for my children. Once we were out and about, my kids stylishly stood out and I received a lot of feedback on the street and playgrounds from moms, caregivers and those interested in this unique yet unifying culture. The questions started increasing on where I got my children the outfits that I became evident to me that I needed to start designing and making more of these outfits for other people to buy and immediately, a business was born.
The Sustainable Brand
I was raised with sustainable ethics and I extend this habit in the way I do business. Every part of the clothing comes from the Garment District of NYC. From the fabrics, to the materials, to the whole manufacturing process. It is sustainable because we give each piece of clothing a value. As a mom, I’m aware of how hard is to spend on children clothing because they grow out of it quickly. That’s why Tohawi makes it reversible (doubles the life-span), adjustable (to adapt with bodies), and with the best quality (to pass down to future generations). Because it’s better to have a nice piece of clothing that would last forever than a million cheap ones. And the environment agrees with that!
And here’s how you can dress in European Chic
Style: Childish clothing. Anything than an adult wouldn’t wear. I personally don’t like long pants for boys until they are 8. It’s part of the tradition too. Even in the cold winter, they wear shorts and high knee socks. I won’t send my kids to the playground in shorts when is freezing, but I still keep the tradition if we are going indoors or it’s not terribly cold.
Fabrics: always natural fabrics (cotton, linen, cotton velvet…) as their skin is sensitive to sintectic ones. Nothing shinny. Nothing sparkly.
Color: soft plain tones without messages or drawings. Children are pure and their clothing should show that too. Pastel colors are very popular in Spain. A dusty pink better than a bright one. I usually keep only two colors that match in an outfit.
Dressing your children with classic clothing shouldn’t be difficult or expensive. There are many stores that offer very simple clothing. A trick that always helps me is getting same color high knee socks and sweater for boys and same color tights and cardigan for girls. Have always one pair of nice shoes for the special occasions and a white shirt for boys (that goes with everything).
A quote I live by:
Live the now!