Taken from a report I wrote about the need for gender-neutral clothes for children.
To identify the need for gender-neutral prints for children's clothing, it would first be necessary for me to describe the shift in attitude towards gender-neutral clothing for children.
The Bailey Review, Letting Children Be Children, was launched in 2011, the main area of concern was the sexualisation of children's clothing. "Collection's should enable children to be confident about their developing bodies and enjoy play and physical activity whilst maintaining modesty...sexualised and gender-stereotyped clothing, products and services for children are the biggest areas of concern for parents" (Bailey 2011).
Another area of concern was about the use of gender stereotypes. As demonstrated in the two images below, which show words used in marketing aimed children in the USA. Boys are marketed with strong, aggressive words "battle", "power", and "hero". While the words used in girl's adverts are "love", "style", and "fun". They are sending a clear message to young children that they should behave different and that there are different expectations.
The boys list:
The girls list:
With the on-going debate about gender-based marketing aimed at children, with high profile campaigns, Let Toys Be Toys and their ally Let Clothes Be Clothes, it seems that gender-specific marketing is becoming outdated.
As far back as 160 years ago, the stark difference in boy's and girl's clothing was discussed in "Some Thought's on Children's Dress", with girls being exposed to the elements in their dress, while boys were covered up. And in comparison with the images as shown below from Marks & Spencer, it is difficult to see how far we have come. Do girls shorts really need to be so short, while a boy will get a knee-length short?
The adult-world is also embracing gender-neutrality with luxury department store Selfridges having their Agenda Project in 2015. This celebrated clothing that could be worn by a man or a woman, with a focus on casual and easy to wear pieces.
Secondly, there seems to be a backlash against parents dressing their children as a mini-me, as seen in the success of Little Bird at Mothercare, with garments rooted in nostalgia, reminiscent of an innocent carefree childhood.
Parents are looking for a more relaxed aesthetic - stepping away from the celebrity styles of over-dressed "mini-me" celebrity children, (ie. North West), and returning to a more nostalgic style; reminiscent of innocent childhood memories.
Bailey, R. (2011) Baliey Review 2011. Available from <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/175418/Bailey_Review.pdf>
Craik, L. (2015) Children's fashion; small people, big business. Available from <https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2015/feb/15/childrenswear-childrens-fashion-prince-george-suri-cruise-harper-beckham>
Merrifield. (1853). SOME THOUGHTS ON CHILDREN'S DRESS.
Sender, T (2016). Childrenswear UK November 2016, Mintel.