John Lewis has become the first major UK retailer to remove gender labels from its children’s offer. The department store chain, which has more than 50 shops nationwide, will still offer traditionally gendered designs such as skirts and trousers – but they will now be categorised as “Boys & Girls” or “Girls & Boys” instead of the usual binary labels.
It has also unveiled a completely new unisex clothing line for kids, featuring items such as dinosaur-printed dresses and spaceship T-shirts for both genders. To ensure it eliminated any bias towards gender in its design and marketing efforts, John Lewis consulted parent-led campaign Let Clothes Be Clothes before the launch. This is a strategy other brands such as Clarks – which recently experienced a backlash over its gender-stereotyping back-to-school footwear offer – would do well to consider.
According to research, demand for unisex onesies has increased by 38% over the past few years (Edited, 2017), and evolving attitudes towards gender mean that the focus on universality in kidswear is becoming mainstream. For more statistics and information on inclusivity in design, see The New Fashion Landscape 2017 and Gender Agenda.