Kids Clothes: The Gender Wars

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I am loving – nay, ecstatic! – that more and more clothing companies are starting to eschew the idea that clothes must be gender specific. You know the story: walk into a clothes shop (or search online) and you immediately have to choose which path you go down – blue for boys, pink for girls; camo and skulls for boys, glitter and princesses for girls. Who’s to say my boy doesn’t want a bit of sparkle on his clothes or my girl can’t wear black?

Last year, I read Alice “Wonderland” Taylor’s blog post showing how she’d had to go to the boys section of M&S to buy her girls clothes, namely: “an awesome KAPOW! comicbook sweater, a superman tee, a teeshirt with a skull on it (lightning bolt, no bow), and an umbrella with robots on.” Cue: UPROAR! (from me, atleast).

She suggests ditching gender divides with clothing and, instead, grouping clothing together by things such as “ADVENTUROUS, HEROIC, FUNNY, CUTE, CLEVER, EDGY, CASUAL, SMART.”  A wonderful idea!

In reality – until kids hit puberty – you don’t really need different boy / girl cuts of clothing (skirts and dresses the possible exception here). Alice says that the upshot would be: Manufacturing costs – lowered. Shopping experience – more interesting.

This is the sort of thing they could A/B test with the website so easily – you hear that, M&S?

Whilst I will admit that most of my kids clothes come from charity shops, donations from friends (thank you, lovely friends), eBay and the occasional high street purchase, I am rather taken by the recent trend in really bloody lovely kidswear. Stuff that, because of my want to keep things nice and stain free, I would probably be a bit antsy about them wearing when slurping up spaghetti in tomato sauce or eating chunks of blood red beetroot (I’ll be there, Vanish stick in hand), but yet I know that these clothes are hard wearing, quality items that won’t fall apart like some high street stuff does (Looking at you: Primark, *shudder*). You know that when you buy independent kidswear that each item of clothing will last more than one child and, most likely, that you’ll be supporting some brilliant, probably local, entrepreneurial parent who wants something better for their kids.

My personal style is important to me. It makes me feel confident, puts a smile on my face and others – I hope! Whilst I don’t want my kids to feel that they are only judged on what they wear, I’d like them to experience a bit of the enjoyment that I get from putting bright colours together, rummaging around in a thrift store for the perfectly patterned vintage dress, or perhaps wearing big chunky beads.

Tootsa Maginty has been championing unisex kidswear for a few years. They promise colourful, quality, children’s clothes for boys and girls “that won’t fall apart in the wash”. And – music to my ears – they have a SALE on at the moment. I adore their Epping sweatpants, which I know my son would love (he goes for anything comfy, over the look of it to be honest, as many an 8 year old would) and we’d get good wear from their chunky knit cardigans or Surfers Against Sewage T-shirts with a pelican print.

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Tootsa 1Boys&Girls are local to me in London – I get their newsletter which tells you about their frequent offers and sales. They go for a bright, outdoorsy urban look – grey marls, fun prints such as stars, slouchy harem pants and adorable all-in-ones for babies. (They still divide by Boys and Girls when you’re searching – I’d like to see this mixed up a bit more please!). All clothes are organic too.

Boys&Girls

And Loveitloveitloveit sell all sorts of non-gender specific kids brands, sorted by colour, and Ruth, who runs it, is very funny on Twitter. Plus – BIG SALE on at the moment too.

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Screen shot 2014-02-19 at 13.37.04 I’m also really liking the look of Pom Berlin (as spotted on Fine Little Day last week) with fun bunting prints on slouchy sweat pants and jumpers and eye-popping prints on skirts.

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This is not a sponsored post.

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11 thoughts on “Kids Clothes: The Gender Wars

  1. These are great clothes! I hear you about the divide. I ended up buying pyjamas for my daughter from the boys’ section in John Lewis this Christmas because the girls’ stuff was deathly boring. Why should the boys get The Gruffalo and superheroes while the girls are stuck with florals?

    • Quite! I think we need to make some more noise so the High St shops hear us… The campaign to ask shops to not divide toys by gender was pretty successful.

  2. So true. Only just embarking on motherhood – 16 weeks pregnant. and am already maddened on the insistence of people to focus on gender. I get shocked reactions on finding out I’m not finding out the sex of my bubs ” but how will i buy clothes??!” er with money!. And I am confused by “boys bundles” of vests covered in cats and dinosaurs. Sorry will me potential 3 month old girl be allergic to cats??!

    • People are always so obsessed with asking if it’s a girl or a boy – I guess there’s not much else to ask without prying, right? My mind still boggles at people asking me if mine were ‘planned’ – what sort of question is that to ask a pregnant woman!? But anyway… I hope you find lots of lovely unisex clothes. I think there’s more out there. I just only wish high street stores would mix things up a bit, and think beyond pink / blue.

  3. Fantastic read, I too had the same frustrations when I had my first baby two years ago, a girl. I choose to dress her in gender neutral clothes and took great delight in telling strangers that she was a girl when they assumed because of her clothes otherwise. I have just this week launched an online Unisex kids clothing store ‘Desmond Elephant’ and I am delighted to be stocking two fab brands you have mentioned, Tootsa MacGinty and Boys&Girls along with a few others. Desmond Elephant’s store is simply divided into babies and kids, and all clothes selected are appropriate for a boy or a girl.

    • Fabulous! Love the site… I was seriously considering opening up my own unisex online store, so I’m glad you’ve got in on the action. Do let me know how your first few months of trading goes!

  4. Completely agree, it’s just so boring going into children’s clothes shops now & wading through their colour coding. I’ve ended up buying a lot of stuff off ebay for this reason, but I love the examples you give. I like it best when my kids chose their clothes in the morning, they put much more interesting combinations together than I do.

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