Denver’s fashion scene isn’t known for its childrenswear, but one trending children’s boutique has brought high-quality kids’ fashion brands to the Mile High City. Nestled in charming Washington Park is Broomtail, a curated children’s shop designed to blend commerce with community for families in Denver.
“So many young families live in Denver, so I thought the city needed something like this,” Broomtail’s owner, Maris Johansson said. Johansson is a working mom and experienced marketing professional who saw an opportunity in the childrenswear market.
“I thought it would be really rewarding if I could create a well-curated, family-friendly experience for other people,” Johansson said.
A Denver native, Johansson returned to the city after an impressive career working for companies like Google and Unilever. As she and her husband grew their family in Denver, she began to wonder why kid’s clothing stores didn’t provide a changing table in the bathroom or toys for kids to play with. Seeing a need for a shopping experience that both kids and adults could enjoy, she embarked on her first entrepreneurial endeavor.
Connecting Clothing with Community
Johansson’s favorite piece of the marketing process has always been connecting consumers with products. Her passion for making that connection has further blossomed with Broomtail, as she enhances the family shopping experience. The shop includes toys, books and a kids’ play area, while also providing a supportive space for parents to interact in.
“I wanted to create a physical space that could also feel like an extension of someone’s home,” Johansson said. “Somewhere families would want to spend time and hang out.”
Another piece of Broomtail’s mission is to bring childrenswear brands you can’t find at Target or Zara to Denver. Broomtail currently carries sizes 0-8 in over 20 unique brands, many of which are family-owned or women-owned. By popular demand, Broomtail has recently announced that they will expand their merchandise assortment by carrying up to size 10 in the fall.
Before deciding to carry a new brand in Broomtail, Johansson tries out clothing items on her kids to test their quality firsthand. She looks for childrenswear with top-notch quality, a good fit and soft fabric that washes well. If the brand meets her standards, it makes it to the sales floor, which is replenished with new items at least once a week.
As the owner of a kids’ clothing boutique, Johansson offers exclusive insight into childrenswear trends. She learns what’s coming next in kids’ fashion at a trade show in New York City called Playtime, which she attends twice a year. She gave 303 Magazine the lowdown on what’s trending in childrenswear in 2022.
Fashion Meets Functionality
A major factor in children’s clothing is that it’s easy for kids to wear. This is why Broomtail’s merchandise focuses primarily on play clothes rather than more formal styles. Oftentimes, parents want to buy what kids will feel the most comfortable in.
“You don’t want them to wear anything that’s going to restrict their movement for play. The clothes should not dictate what the child is doing,” Johansson said.
Beyond the functional elements of children’s clothing, like snaps for changing diapers, brands are creating interesting designs that elevate everyday play clothes. Play Up – one of Johansson’s favorite Broomtail brands – is an example of this.
Play Up is a Fair Trade children’s fashion brand made in Portugal. They’re passionate about children’s comfortability for play, which is why they often use organic and recycled cotton, a sustainable twist on one of the world’s softest fabrics. Their annual themed collections are always a reflection of what’s trending in childrenswear.
Another trending brand in kids’ fashion is Rylee + Cru, a beachy brand based in San Diego. Their knack for designing coordinating looks with muted tones is a selling point for many families.
“They do a really good job of telling a story with each collection,” Johansson said. “People tell me all the time they’re excited they can come in to see Rylee + Cru at Broomtail.”
Another trend in the children’s clothing market is to embrace classics now for later reuse. Broomtail makes classic and quality pieces a top priority so that items won’t go out of style and can be reused for another child.
“I want these items to be handed down and used for a long time,” Johansson said.
The future of the kids’ fashion industry could be formed by hand-me-down websites. The second-hand children’s clothing market on Facebook has inspired Johansson to contemplate how she can contribute to the reuse of clothing pieces.
“A lot of the brands that I carry have really robust buy-sell-trade communities on Facebook,” Johansson said. “You can resell what you’re not using anymore to others who will wear it.”
In light of this, Johansson has considered the potential of a resale website linked to Broomtail in the future.
Neutrality Over Novelty
Browsing through Broomtail, you’ll notice a heavy presence of earth tones, muted hues and neutrals. As seen with brands like Beans Barcelona and Goumi Kids, children’s fashion trends have steered away from neons and brights in favor of a softer, more versatile palette.
There is also consistent demand for items with stripes or gingham print, which tend to be top sellers. These gender-neutral palettes and prints can easily be handed down through siblings, saving parents money while staying in style.
“I can’t resist a good, classic stripe. I feel like that will never go away, and people love it for boys and girls,” Johansson said.
The romper is another unisex style for little ones, particularly for babies. In childrenswear, a romper is a classic, traditional silhouette that will remain cute for years to come.
As for the future of Broomtail, Johansson is dreaming of ways to grow the brand while staying true to her mission. To foster community amongst families, she’s considering having more events and pop-ups at the Broomtail shop. Recently, a Broomtial pop-up has opened up at a local swim school, Little Kickers. The Broomtail website is also continuing to grow, with the potential for a resale website in the future.
All photography by Joslyn Rose Griffin.