Hi, my name is Mary, and I’m a Gymboree addict.
If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know this already. I’m not crazed, but I am enough of a devotee that people think of me when they get a discount code, or when they need help identifying a line of clothing. After Madalyn was born I went in the store a few times, adored the clothes, and was horrified by the prices. I resisted for a few years but, somehow, when Madalyn was about 2.5, it got to me and I caved. I can still remember the first good-sized batch of Gymboree clothes she had, and tell you the lines all the pieces came from. I have been shopping there ever since. Madalyn was about 7 when she outgrew their clothing, because she was so big for her age, but I can still shop there for Johnny, and Eliza, who’s average-sized, still has a good seven years left before she leaves Gymbo sizes behind.
Many people take one look at Gymboree prices and run, screaming…or look down their noses at me for paying so much. I try to explain that I rarely pay full price for anything from there. I wait until it goes 20% off or more. I also collect and use GymBucks ($25 off of every $50). I also buy pieces from former lines on eBay. The prices are probably still higher than a lot of people would pay for second-hand clothing but it’s still not sticker price. (I also buy “new with tags” items and end up paying less than the original asking price.)
There is a method to my madness, however. It’s not just that I am in love with Gymboree’s designs. Certainly I am….with some of them. People might be surprised to know I don’t love everything Gymboree does. There are entire lines that leave me cold. At any rate, it’s not just aesthetics that spurs me to spend the money on this brand. Also factoring into the decision is the fact that, quite simply, Gymboree is consistently some of the most well-made children’s clothing you can buy. It’s sturdy and made with quality materials. With two girls, do you have any inkling of how many shirts, dresses, skirts and pairs of pants I’ve bought from Gymboree over the years that had either sequins or rhinestone detailing on them? Know how many of those pieces have ever lost any of said embellishments? None, that I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile, every shirt we’ve ever bought from anywhere else that had sparklies on it had lost half of them before the season was over.
Over the past year or so I’ve been making liberal use of a website called Zulily. Rather than selling their own brand of merchandise, Zulily makes deals with manufacturers and designers to sell a specific quantity of items at (an alleged) considerable discount. They really do have low prices on some items that are very cute. The problem is that, once you get them home, you find out that many of the items are very poorly made. The manufacturers are claiming normal resale prices that rival Gymboree’s, and yet the quality seems to be on the level of Walmart, or Target, if you’re lucky. And it’s not, as I said, just one company’s products. I have ordered things from Zulily from countless different manufacturers and I run into this problem with a lot of them.
But don’t just take my word for it. I have photographic evidence. All of the following photographs are of items I have bought at “deep discount” from Zulily. (Note: Feel free to click on any of the photos to see the details up close.)
What you see above is just a sampling of the issues I’ve had. There have been many other incidences of cheap materials, cheap manufacturing, stuff falling apart, material fading awfully and/or getting holes in it after only a few washings, and the elastic inside waistbands rolling over (this happens a LOT). Now, to be fair, I should point out that I order from Zulily frequently, and there have been things that I haven’t had a bit of trouble with. Also worth pointing out is that this is not Zulily’s fault, personally. I don’t have a problem with them. They are not responsible for the manufacturing. Indeed, my point is that this has happened with so many different brands that it appears to be the standard rather than just a few bad apples.
For a bit of contrast, allow me to submit two more pictures.
And now for the kicker:
If you’re still saying, “So what? They’re kids’ clothes…they can only wear them for a little while. Who needs them to last ten years?” I would ask you — what do you do with cheaper kids’ clothes when they are worn out and falling apart? Dump them at a thrift store? Throw them away? I’ll tell you what people do with Gymboree clothes — they resell them. I can buy these clothes, send my kids out looking adorable, and then sell the clothes to someone else and get part of my money back…maybe even enough that I end up, in the long run, not having paid any more for the outfit than I would’ve at Old Navy or The Children’s Place. They also make great hand-me-downs. I have tons of Madalyn’s old Gymboree socked away in sizes all the way up to 12, just waiting for Eliza to grow into them — which will save me money as the years go on. If you take a $40 outfit and use it for two different kids, then you are really only paying $20 apiece for the thing. It’s even hard to get a (nice) shirt and pants at Walmart for under that, anymore.
So you see, my friends, that it’s not about wretched excess or fancy brand names. Gymboree clothing, frankly, is just better. It’s better quality and longer-lasting. I would rather my kids have a small wardrobe of really cute, sharp-looking outfits that someone else can use after us than a closet full of cheap things they can only wear three times. I strayed away a little last year. Got sucked in by the hype of huge discounts and thought, “Why do I need to go to Gymboree when I have these other options?” But I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve seen the light. I’ve found my way back to the church of Gymboree, glory, hallelujah.