What is a Limited Edition Cloth Diaper?

what is a limited edition cloth diaperIf you’re newer to cloth diapers, you may not know the pre-limited edition cloth world. People bought the diapers they liked. End of story. But with the advent of limited edition prints, it hid the fervor of dedicated collecting under the “need” to have more diapers. You know, for the baby.

In the several years prior to 2014, retailers often learned of new prints at seasonal expos. Sometimes there were pre-orders and usually those prints or colors were around for a full season or, at least, a second shipment. Many brands continue to market this way. Last year the diaper world was thrown for a (hook and) loop when limited editions came to larger production brands, namely bumGenius (Cotton Babies brand along with Flip).

To be fair, WAHM brands like RagaBabe already had a corner on the highly-coveted, low-availability market. The shake-up happened, in part, due to bumGenius’s larger availability in stores and their fan base as a top-selling brand across all styles of cloth diapers. Their tiny socialite artist series paled in comparison to the drop-and-gone approach of the later Genius series of diapers in 2013-2015.

We bought an Albert with no difficulty when we first entered the world of children and cloth diapering in late 2011. I thought nothing of it; nobody did. Then at some point between Maathai and Irwin, I noticed the tension. I recall stepping back when I saw small retailers staying up at all hours of the night trying to update their loyal shoppers on when diapers might arrive and how many and of what styles they might get. Even retailers were left in the dark in the limited edition craze of Caroll, Jules, Audrey, and Chaplin.

In the midst of this, the old socialite series was offered in a limited release by some retailers. This was hard to swallow for some who paid double–and triple–for used versions of these hard-to-find prints. Then Cotton Babies/bG re-released Maathai. bG has taken the brunt of some buyers’ hard feelings as some people buy up more diapers than “needed” for the purpose of reselling at exorbitant prices. Websites crashed. Poor reviews were posted on retailer sites. Mamas got mad at mamas. I’d say it was the best of times and worst of times, but I don’t want to buy into the drama.

The world of cloth diapers forever changed after 2013. Some were turned off by limited edition offerings (by any brand that specialized their brand). Others became even more committed to gathering their entire rainbow of one brand; they enjoy the hunt on buy-sell-trade pages for the one or two hard-to-find prints they seek. Given the excitement over prints, families new to cloth diapers got enthusiastic and old regulars became excited anew to see what each creative team would come up with next.

Two years later, most of the limited dust has settled, though it continues. The limited edition craze definitely added spice to a world that maybe was getting too settled in its ways. It pushed creative boundaries and vision of what all a cloth diaper can encompass. It’s good for a business to sell their inventory, so at least for the brand-name business is good. A lot of people have bought in, making them lifetime customers, both inviting brand-loyalty if you want a rainbow and brand-bridging if you want all the cute prints.

Just as before the limited edition craze, brands like Rumparooz and AppleCheeks continue to ramp up their social media for reveal parties of retiring and new colors and prints. Generally, their offerings are not limited. Some brands continue to work under their old model of a monthly or seasonal type of production, often akin to Softbums and BottomBumpers. With a monthly print, you know it’s going to change and there may be a shorter supply or limited availability in that they produce with the expectation of selling for one month.

Blueberry Diapers recently launched their Blueberry and Me website that offers several new prints, available only for a few weeks. It offers some of the high-demand and surprise aspects of limited editions in a predictable, managed way. Blueberry also has “exclusive” prints available through only a select retailer or two. Rumparooz teamed up with Ju-Ju-Be diaper bags. Some other brands offer an exclusive print at a single event, like MommyCon or The Great Cloth Diaper Change.

I didn’t think I was into it all. In fact, I wasn’t particularly happy with bumGenius and the way some small retailers had to handle the challenges of limited edition prints. Then at a diaper swap I eyed an Irwin in the distance. For $2. I don’t think I’ve ever moved so fast across a room. (For the inquiring mind: I paid it forward.)

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

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