Secondhand Kidswear Store Kidkanai Picks Nexgen’s Plastic-Free Hangers

As sustainability increasingly shapes fashion product offerings, it’s also morphing how clothing is merchandised.

Plastic hangers and packaging have been ubiquitous in retail, but a growing cohort of merchants are reducing their plastic footprint. In a recent collaboration, French retailer Kiabi’s secondhand childrenswear concept store Kidkanai worked with Nexgen Packaging to create plastic-free hangers.

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Nexgen developed seven styles of its Ditto paper fiberboard hangers for Kidkanai. Garment hangers were made in three widths to optimize the fit for garment sizes ranging from baby clothes to older children’s attire. These hangers come with metal butterfly clips that can hold pants and skirts, making them more versatile. For denim, an “anchor” hanger was fashioned to hook onto belt loops. Three hanger types were also made for Kidkanai’s accessory offerings: a slot hanger for blankets, a scarf hook and a small multipurpose J hook that can hold merchandise such as hats, gloves and baby booties.

The hanger design is minimal, with the retailer’s logo in white on the front and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on the back, bringing attention to the hangers’ material certification. Nexgen’s solutions for Kidkanai included FSC certified 100 percent recycled paper inputs. “As sustainability is at the core of Kiabi’s new concept store, they were looking for a hanger design that complemented their eco-friendly ethos, and so we proposed a kraft hanger for a real sustainable look and feel,” Gemma Ward, sales and marketing director for U.K. and Europe at Nexgen Packaging, told Sourcing Journal.

In addition ­to sustainability, the hangers were designed to be durable and hold up to the weight of the merchandise as well as handling by store staff and customers. Through pre-launch internal testing, Nexgen’s engineers found the “sweet spot” of fiberboard weight that would allow for the least possible paper use while also withstanding the store’s specific uses and needs. “Durability for Kidkanai was extremely important as they are reusing the hangers over and over again in store, and we want to ensure each and every hanger has a long life cycle,” Ward said. She added, “After several months in store, we haven’t had one damaged or broken hanger.”

Since the hangers are fashioned from paper fiberboard, once they reach the end of life and are disposed of, they will decompose within six months.

“The hangers perfectly complement our preloved garments and showcase our branding clearly,” said Pauline Bachelet, secondhand product manager at Kidkanai. “This, along with having a zero-plastic impact, makes Ditto hangers perfect for our new brand.”

While brands like Kidkanai are trading plastic for paper, Ward said some companies still have concerns about making this switch. One consideration is cost, since paper inputs are pricier than plastic. Accounting for these material cost differences, Nexgen is keeping paper usage to the minimum required and leveraging its footprint of six hanger production sites to keep manufacturing as close to the end market as possible, thereby reducing shipping expenses. She added that hangers can serve a dual purpose and eliminate the need for separate hangtags, since branding and information such as size and fit can be printed on the hanger.

Another hurdle, according to Ward, has been concerns about paper’s durability, but this hesitance is lessening as adoption widens. “In the past, we were seeing retailers being concerned to be the first to make the switch, but this has drastically changed recently as large global retailers are making the switch to the Ditto hanger and on quite a large scale now,” said Ward. “This offers more and more confidence for others to follow.”

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