Every parent knows what it's like to buy new clothes for their child, only to find they've already outgrown them by the second wash. A new kind of outerwear could reduce waste, hassle, and perhaps money by expanding in size as the child grows. Named Petit Pli, the clever clothing won the UK James Dyson Award and is slated to come to market.

Petit Pli creator Ryan Mario Yasin, a design engineer with a degree in aeronautical engineering, was inspired to create the clothing after he bought some new clothes for his nephew, but by the time he went to gift them, they were already too small.

"Children grow seven sizes in their first two years on Earth and this equates to a lot of wasted clothing," says Yasin. "Petit Pli's versatile waterproof shells are pleated in such a way that they can grow bi-directionally to custom fit a large range of sizes."

The clothing is designed to fit kids aged four to 36 months and is, Yasin asserts, tough, washable, rain proof, and wind proof.

So, what makes this clothing special compared to other clothing made from expandable fabric? "An auxetic structure has been embedded in Petit Pli fabrics, giving the clothing a negative Poisson's ratio," says the designer. Simply put, that means the synthetic material used to make the clothes becomes thicker as it's pulled apart, rather than thinner, as you'd expect from, say, Lycra. It's the kind of stuff used in body armor, for example.

Having snagged the UK James Dyson Award, Yasin's creation is now entered into the competition's international round, with a chance of winning the top prize in the annual design competition where contestants are tasked with creating something that solves a practical problem.

Whether he wins or not, the designer ultimately aims to bring Petit Pli to market, once it's undergone further durability testing, and when he's sourced suitable manufacturers and the like. Additional styles of clothing are also planned beyond the pictured prototype.

It's not clear whether Petit Pli is only planned for the baby to toddler age range or older kids will be able to wear it too. The eventual price also seems like a big factor as to whether this is a winner or not. Still, it's early days yet and the basic idea seems sound enough. We'll keep an eye on the project as it progresses.

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