John Lewis gets rid of 'boys' and 'girls' labels in children's clothing

The move to avoid ‘gender stereotypes’ has divided customers

Rachel Hosie
Saturday 02 September 2017 09:07 BST
Other retailers are expected to follow John Lewis as critics decry march of ‘political correctness’
Other retailers are expected to follow John Lewis as critics decry march of ‘political correctness’

John Lewis has become the first UK retailer to remove gender labels from its children’s clothing.

The department store chain has not only taken “girls” and “boys” labels from clothes, but has also done away with the separate sections in stores.

John Lewis own-brand children clothing will now simply say “Girls & Boys” or “Boys & Girls.”

School uniform is the only type of clothing that has not yet been switched, but it will do soon.

The clothing style hasn’t changed – you’ll still find floral dresses and skirts, but the retailer is simply proving the point that they can be worn by both girls and boys.

They’ve also launched a new unisex clothing line for children, featuring dinosaur print dresses and spaceship tops.

Caroline Bettis, the head of childrenswear at John Lewis, said: “We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear.”

The John Lewis website still includes boys and girls sections, but this is currently under review and likely to be brought in line with stores.

And the move has been widely praised.

The news comes in the wake of the scandal of a National Trust property gift shop selling pink hats for girls emblazoned with “Future footballers’ wife [sic].”

Many other retailers have been lambasted for their sexist clothing in the past.

Gap, for example, came under fire for referring to girls as “social butterflies” and boys as “little scholars” in an advert promoting its new clothing range.

And Asda was criticised for the gender disparity in its clothing, with girls’ clothes featuring slogans such as “Hey Cutie” and “Ponies Rock” in contrast with “Future Scientist” and “Bows Will Be Boys” on boys’ clothing.

Not everyone is on board with the idea of gender-neutral clothing for children though.

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “I have no idea what would possess John Lewis to do this. Boys and girls labels and signs are informative. I think removing them could be very confusing for the consumer.

“It appears political correctness continues to march and, whether it is going in the right direction, is a point for debate. I cannot see many customers buying a dress for their six-year-old boy.”

But many people see the move as a huge step in the right direction, because actually, girls can like dinosaurs and boys can like flowers too.

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“It’s fantastic news and we hope other shops and online retailers will now move in the same direction,” the campaign group Let Clothes Be Clothes said.

“A T-shirt should be just a T-shirt – not a T-shirt just for girls or just for boys.”

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