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If design is the highest form of creative expression, then its components make all of the difference. For Kate Brown, founder and designer of Morton & Mabel, creating a minimalistic clothing line for children relies most heavily on one component: applied purpose.
With two children, Chandler Mabel and Sebastian, Brown’s conception of Morton & Mabel stemmed from relevancy in her life—making quality items that allow the kids to speak louder than the clothes.
“To do minimal well, you have to be intentional,” she says. “There’s a design purpose there, and I feel that our pieces are just incredibly intentional.”
Mabel, after her daughter, is the design aspect of the company: fine and durable fabrics, neutral colors, shrunk down adult construction, and a bit of ’70s influence. Morton, Brown’s maiden name, is the mission. Brown was a one-year-old when her parents divorced and her mother moved away; as a result, much of the designer’s childhood was spent living with her grandparents. “For that reason, I’ve always had this desire to help kids and instill confidence and love and hope back into them,” says the Illinois native.
With prices starting at $45 and designed for children ages two through 10, the debut Concordia Collection features ten pieces: a unisex jacket, four tops, two dresses, two unisex pants, and a skirt. Each piece, manufactured in Nashville through Omega Apparel, is named after a family member. The Mabel Dress is a basic shift in a rust modal fabric. It fits in the shoulders and free flows from the body. The muted yellow Addie dress, inspired by her niece’s olive skin tone and straight figure, is cinched at the waist for structure and shape. And the Abe Jacket, which is crafted from waxed cotton, was named for her nephew, Lincoln.
Brown’s own style is effortless—not overly designed, but aesthetically Madewell-esque, which is where she began as a stylist in Nashville. Labels like Tibi, Loeffler Randall, and Rachel Comey all act as muses. For the Concordia Collection, images of turn-of-the-century farm families served as totems for her message of minimal wardrobes, a concept she’s hoping to pass on to children through a charity program.
“I’m calling it #MMGetGive,” Brown says. “When you get a Morton & Mabel piece, the hope is that you’ll take two or three pieces out of the closet that don’t have as much value.”
Included in each shipment is a poly bag and a pre-paid shipping label so customers and their kids can send a few items back in the mailer. Morton & Mabel will deliver the shipment to its Nashville partner, Clothes4Souls, and they’ll provide the clothing to orphanages around the world—purposeful design that adds meaning to a child’s closet.