In 1972, Garan, Incorporated introduced Garanimals, a children's clothing line of matching separates that soon rivaled the popularity of Toughskins jeans. Every piece of clothing had a tag with an image of an animal on it, so kids had a system to match tops and bottoms that was infallible with "color-keyed mix-and-match animal tags and hangers."
Before the release of Garanimals, Garan was "the nation's leading manufacturer of men's and boys' knitted sport shirts." They also made polos and knitted pajamas and distributed clothing lines through Sears and JCPenney. Presently, they are sold at WalMart.
For children who weren't fashionistas, didn't understand hem lengths, or had problems deciphering when -- or more importantly, when not -- to wear a white belt, Garanimals were the go-to all-in-one clothing line that allowed kids to be fashionable without having to worry about it. This allowed kids to focus on the important things in life, such as a beating during recess, the conversion of fractions, or the debate regarding which teacher was the dreamiest. Obviously, the pressure on children in the 1970s was immense; the last thing kids needed was the added stress of looking stupid due to the inability to coordinate their wardrobe.
I mentioned animal tags; actually, the tags were anthropomorphic animals (look it up) that were sewn into each clothing item with the simple purpose of making a kid's life easier. Thus, when little Susie or Johnny dressed for the tough day ahead, all they had to do was match the animal on a top (shirt or blouse) to the animal on a bottom (pants or skirt). Voila! Everything matched. The idea was incendiary, akin to having a personal fashion designer in the closet.
The philosophy behind the Garanimals idea is empowerment; if kids could coordinate their outfits without parental guidance, they'd build confidence. Unfortunately, as the 1970s came to a close and bell-bottom jeans and T-shirts became the latest rage, the matching animal theme was phased out, and Garanimals weren't cool anymore.
Thankfully, in 2002, Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. acquired Garan, and the Garanimals clothing line was resurrected six years later. The animal tags have changed, but then so too have the pressures kids face. (Kids once worried about being beat up after school; now they worry about being beat to death.)
Garanimals.com is a kid-friendly Web site and includes stories and games for younger children. Not surprisingly, the company's philosophy remains unchanged.
"Garanimals clothing with its pairing system, color and trend right silhouettes, and comfortable fit have all been carefully designed to provide fashion, fit and positive reinforcement for kids while guaranteeing quality, value and convenience/ease of shopping to parents. Moms love the fool-proof simplicity."
Who would've thought that childhood could be navigated better through a keen sense of fashion? Obviously, Warren Buffet and Garanimals.
(Photo courtesy of Patrick Q)