Neutral clothes for kids?
By Sarah Holt
Blue for boys, pink for girls. For decades, the clothing of babies and toddlers has been colour coded according to sex.
In 2017, however, things are changing. At the start of October, Mothercare announced that is was launching a gender-neutral clothing range for babies and young children.
Entitled My K Unisex, the collection includes garments such as romper suits and t-shirts, and is mainly made up of fabrics in blacks, whites, greys and yellow. Patterns meanwhile include panda faces, stripes and spots.
Mothercare is not the first retailer in the UK to stare gender stereotyping directly in the eyes. At the start of September John Lewis launched its unisex clothing line, which featured dinosaur dresses and spaceship tops.
The department store has also gone one step further by actually removing all gender labels from its children's clothing and removing the separate boys and girls sections from its stores all together. Its kids' attire departments are now simply sign posted by the words 'boys and girls clothing'.
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.”
Other fashion bands that champion unisex clothes for children include Mini Stylin', Rainbows and Sprinkles, Fred and Noah and Polarn O. Pyret.
Speaking to the Huffington Post Polarn O. Pyret's head of design said: “Polarn O. Pyret has created clothes that allow children to be children.
“Since our first striped t-shirt we have always had a child’s perspective in mind, we have challenged gender roles and stacked environmental labels on top of each other.”
According to fashion historians, the blue for boys and pink for girls concept has not always existed.
In his book Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America, University of Maryland historian Jo B. Paoletti explains that pastel colours for baby clothes was a fashion that was introduced in the mid-19th century. However, he claims that the colors weren't gender-specific at first.
The Smithsonian even reports that the opposite of blue for boys was once the case, quoting 'A Ladies' Home Journal' article from June 1918.
It reads: "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."
So will we see the end of the colour dichotomy in the coming years? Or will blue and pink always reign supreme?