Gender Neutral Children’s Clothing – Must it Be So Black and White?
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?
I would love to know your favourite gender neutral and unisex brands or clothing ranges. Let me know in the comments your favourites!
Young children are innocent they develope their likes and dislikes at a very early age without the help of adults pushing their ideals onto them. Let the child decide for themselves.
I’m a female who loves colour and was horrified when browsing unisex clothing that they veered towards the male, shoes that looked like mens brogues dark dull colours usually chosen for boys wear, there is a danger with this idea of unisex that girls are going to loose their identity as a female. Women have and still are fighting for equal rights in so many important areas that one has to be careful that we don’t loose our identity as females altogether. It’s about choice make sure it’s the childs choice and not the adults pushing an agenda.
Sorry my husband thought the childrens briefs were for a boy!!!
Kids are very innocent; they have an interest in different colors regardless of their gender. Kids will be cute in every color it is not a concern with gender.
My biggest parental win last week was dressing Luna in Spencer’s old 9 – 12 months. Spencer is just a wee lad and Luna is HUGE so it’s not even a year and she’s already stealing her brothers cool as F Tom and Jerry jumper. Something I have no fear in is dressing Luna in Spenny’s clothes, but is that because she’s a girl? I’m personally not hung up on the gender thing. For me it’s that Girls have a much more diverse range than boys. The difference is sections; boys have a couple of lines and girls have half of Asda…? What’s that all about. H&M do an alright job and I tend to go there for Spencer.
I don’t have kids yet but I teach kids. They have many different interests regardless of their gender, so why not reflect this in their clothing? By the way, I’ve come across plenty of little boys who love pink. And what is ‘gendered’ about yellow, red, orange or green, which are all lovely colours? Monochrome, unless it’s very dramatic, is saying, “I am drab, I don’t stand out”. If a child likes to be quiet and not draw attention to themselves, that’s totally fine; nobody has to be outgoing, but some children enjoy bright colours and like to stand out. How about some of the male ‘Strictly’ stars getting involved here? They look awesome in their spangles.