The big news in the children’s fashion industry this week is that Celine Dion has just released a range of gender neutral clothing with fashion brand NUNUNU.
The odd and slightly baffling advert for the clothing range shows Celine Dion ‘saving’ all the babies in the maternity ward from a life of pink for girls and blue for boys. As if by magic she changes them out of there gender stereotypical pink and blue outfits and into clothing from her new gender neutral range.
So far so good – if a little bemusing.
Challenging the norms of the high street, where pink is for girls and blue is for boys, is always positive.
Celine Dion had so much power to influence the industry. Yet we ended up with another baggy fit gender neutral range that is entirely black, white and grey – with a hint of blue and yellow thrown in for good measure.
Why Are Gender Neutral Ranges So...Grey?
NUNUNU are not alone in their assumptions that unisex clothing has to avoid frills, sparkles, pink, purple or any colours that we have been told are for girls.
A quick look on Google for ‘unisex clothing’ brings up images (with the exception of a solitary pink hoodie) of men and women dressed in monochrome clothing.
Last year River Island released a range of unisex clothing for children and that too was also entirely black and white with garments made to be a baggier, boxy fit.
I searched online and found that the majority of unisex sections of the big children’s clothing retailers - if they have a unisex section at all - consists of a selection of white baby vests and the odd lemon yellow baby grow.
Marks and Spencers includes a little bit of green and most other retailers aren't much better - with the exception of the Mothercare Little Bird range.
The same goes for Debenhams, Boots, Matalan and Littlewoods to name just a few.
And most are also just for newborn babies up to 24 months.
Why Do Big Brands Shy Away From Colour?
Perhaps it is the safest option?
Maybe there is a fear of wearing the 'wrong' colour that is so great that brands avoid colour altogether?
After all, the backlash from John Lewis removing gendered labels from its own brand clothing was so great that many parents and grandparents wanted to boycott the store.
My own Facebook page post about the John Lewis's decision to remove gender labels sparked some lively debates!
What Makes a Good Unisex Brand?
I am thrilled that so many bigger names in childrenswear are starting to introduce unisex ranges to their collections. But they could do so much more, don't you think?
By continually offering styles that are plainer and masculine it only strengthens the argument that women can wear anything but that boys cannot wear more feminine styles or colours.
The monochrome, baggy fit gender neutral clothing lines that we are currently seeing, the ones that ignore traditionally feminine colours and styles, only reinforce this.
I am tired of the idea that masculine styles and attributes are acceptable for both genders but pink and a bit of sparkle are still for girls.
This view is outdated and we should demand change.
A true unisex range does not limit its colours to the monochrome pallet, nor does it shy away from including sparkles and frills.
A good unisex brand shouldn't shy away from colour. Monochrome clothing is lovely and has its place but it is not the only way to 'do' gender neutral kids clothing.
Small Brands are Doing It Right
There are a lot of smaller brands that champion gender neutral and unisex clothing and I wrote about my favourite small brands last year.
Read More: The Best Gender Neutral Clothes for Kids
The overiding message from the smaller brands is that children's clothes should be made with children in mind.
They don't have hidden agendas and they don't shy away from colour.
They don't put children in boxes and they offer so much choice.
Bright colours or monochrome, sparkly or edgy - the choice is yours.
My own brand message is that children's clothes should be made for children.
Each garment I make is made for playing in and is designed for girls and boys. I make tops, dresses and leggings in every print and fabric and don't decide if something if for girls or boys - in fact I don't have gendered labels on my website for this reason.
And many other smaller brands do the same.
Wouldn't it be amazing to see larger brands follow suit and so the same?