In 1989, the Naartjie brand was founded in Cape Town, South Africa. The label gets its name (pronounced "nar-chee") from an Afrikaans word for a small citrus fruit. Fashion designer Anne Eales wanted to create a children's clothing line that provided an alternative to the basic styles she was finding on the market for her three young boys. Eales' clothes were designed to be distinctive, functional, kid-friendly, and affordable--qualities that have since continued to be part of the brand's mission statement.
Eales opened the first Naartjie store at Cape Town's Victoria Wharf Shopping Center in 1992. After struggling initially, the shop soon caught on and began to attract an international following. Worldwide rights were purchased by Naartjie USA in 2001, and the brand opened a store in Santa Clara that same year. By 2014, there were more than 50 Naartjie stores across the U.S., but the company filed for bankruptcy and began liquidating its assets. Naartjie has said that it intends to reopen its e-commerce division in the future, though it hasn't given any prospective dates. Clothes are still available in South Africa, but the brand doesn't ship outside the country. Apparel from Naartjie USA is still available via resale and features timeless designs that aren't likely to go out of style.
Historically, Naartjie has offered clothes in sizes 0-16, so you can find apparel for newborns, babies, kids, and tweens. Options for newborns and infants include onesies, tunics, tanks, leggings, tees, overalls, dresses, and more. Colors range from pastels to slightly bolder options, and many clothes feature prints like flowers, polka dots, and stripes. Naartjie styles for kids include many of the same types of clothes for girls. Dresses and skirts tend to be flowing and comfortable, and the brand emphasizes layering with its cardigans, scarves, and hats that match well with the rest of its clothes. For boys, you'll find fairly basic options like graphic tees, henleys, jeans, and cargo shorts. Light outerwear includes hoodies, pullovers, and more. The brand offers some clothes for tweens, which are a little more form-fitting and put a bit more of an emphasis on style.
When the brand was still putting out new clothes, different prints, colors, and patterns were released throughout each season. New garments were designed to coordinate with other seasonal styles, however, so it was easy to mix and match. Even with the brand's current halt on new production, you'll find that many different options pair well together to create unique outfits.
Naartjie USA operated for more than a decade and cultivated a number of loyal customers--many of whom still bemoan the company's recent setbacks. Brand devotees particularly appreciated how clothes were available in a broad range of colors and styles to appeal to kids and parents with a wide array of tastes. Luckily, clothes are unique enough that they don't need to adhere to the latest stylistic trends (which is a key reason why the brand thrives on the resale market). All things considered, we give Naartjie 4 stars out of 5.