The maker of kids' stuff: Bergen Anderson of Lilla Barn Clothing | Feature | Chicago Reader

The maker of kids' stuff: Bergen Anderson of Lilla Barn Clothing 

A profile of the Chicago designer of Scandinavian-inspired kids' wear

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ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo

Big, bright, and bold. That’s how Bergen Anderson, 39, describes the aesthetic of Lilla Barn, the children’s clothing company she founded in 2011.

"I was pregnant with my daughter and just couldn’t find the baby clothes I wanted," she says. "Since I’ve always been a maker—my mom taught me how to sew as a child—I decided to make clothes for my baby. The idea to start Lilla Barn grew organically out of that decision."

Bergen enlisted the help of her textile-expert mother, Anne Anderson, and graphic designer sister, Liv Anderson, to create garments for babies and kids that go way beyond pink and blue. "The Nordic aesthetic plays a large role in our design since it's such a significant part of our lives," says Bergen, who's of Norwegian and Swedish ancestry and says she's always been in touch with her roots—"the Scandinavian-American experience is huge in the midwest." So it's no surprise that Lilla Barn's designs are suffused with primary colors and lively geometric motifs, printed on unique fabrics she often sources on her family's trips abroad.

"We mostly use 100 percent cotton fabric for our woven garments, and 95 percent cotton with 5 percent spandex fabric for our leggings and other knit pieces," Bergen says. "We also have linen and bamboo garments. Everything needs to be soft—everyone should wear soft clothes!" She adds that sustainability is a core value for her company: "We use as much of our fabrics as possible and then donate scraps to quilters and other crafters."

lillabarn-combine.jpg

So far Lilla Barn's greatest hits have been its "ninja pants" ($29-$39)—drop-crotch pants that allow for bulky diapers and plenty of movement—and leggings ($25), which feature gender-neutral prints. And even though children's clothes continue to be Lilla Barn's main focus, the company has recently started a women's line as well as a home goods department—all handmade by the Andersons, who also collaborate with other local artists and brands to create one-of-a-kind products that feel as great to look as they are to touch. Lilla Barn Clothing, lillabarn.com.   v

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