Established by a busy working Canberra mum, Maddison, Raising Riley is a tough wearing, stylish and timeless unisex children’s wear brand that bridges the gap between gender specific clothing. Inspired by her daughter Riley, Maddison aims to encourage children to be confident and to push the boundaries of stereotypes signifying “girls should wear pink, boys should wear blue.”
How did the concept for Raising Riley come about?
Essentially, I was getting tired of the classic ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ options that are available. There is no middle ground out there for children’s wear – it’s either pink and flowery or blue with dinosaurs.
I would take my daughter shopping for clothes and would come out with nothing we liked at all or with a hot mess of pink and sequins that can’t make a decent outfit. Riley DOES love to dress up as her favourite princesses, but her casual everyday clothing is a more toned-down and neutral style.
Why did you choose to create a unisex brand?
The goal was to take those stereotype issues and throw them away. Kids every day make a decision based on if it’s for ‘girls’ or for ‘boys’. “I can’t have that one because it’s in the boys’ section” is something that, as a parent, I hear way too often.
It’s tough raising a kid to be proud of who they are and to be confident in what they want when they believe they are limited by their gender. If they want to wear a blue shirt, they shouldn’t feel like they aren’t allowed the blue shirt.
Have you had any prior fashion experience before starting Raising Riley?
Ha! Apart from too much shopping, no this is my first experience!
It took a lot of research before starting up. There was a heap of trial and error as well and it took me well over a year before I finally had my first products ready to go. I am still learning every day.
It is good to take my cues from Riley. If I bring something together that she doesn’t like to wear, then I have the opportunity to work out what she doesn’t like about it and how I can fix that.
Describe your creative process from initial sketches to finished product.
You might notice we are very minimalist – and this is done with great intent. When I design a new piece a key factor in mind is ‘versatility’. I always found it tricky to put a nice-looking outfit together for Riley as kids’ clothes have SO much going on.
Patterns, colours, bling… they all have a place in the market and can be beautiful if you have the time to match something together, but parents don’t normally have time.
If I create a design that I can’t see being styled easily with at least three or four things in Riley’s wardrobe then it doesn’t make the cut.
Can you describe your current collection?
It is very modern and minimal and of course, unisex. The staples you would expect in an adult’s wardrobe are the same staples in Raising Riley. They are classic pieces that are designed to adapt to changes in trends and fashion so they will remain stylish for years.
The business is named after your daughter Riley, how does she inspire you?
Riley is a daily reminder for me to enjoy myself. Kids are so naturally carefree. If they get the urge to do something they don’t stay quiet about it, they take action. They are fearless and go with their gut. I think grownups should do that a bit more instead of staying in the safe zone.
What’s next for Raising Riley?
My goal right now is just building a bigger client base, and I would like to be able to move our production to Australia one day.
The two aims are linked: it is very expensive to manufacture in Australia (which is unfortunate) but when our brand grows hopefully that will be something that we can afford to do.