High–end UK retailer John Lewis announced it will remove “girls” and “boys” labeling from its inventory of children’s clothing and from in–store signs in an effort to avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes.
Several media reports note that John Lewis is the first major retailer in the UK to take this step. John Lewis branded children’s clothing will now be labeled as “Girls & Boys” or “Boys & Girls.” The company also will roll out a line of non–gender–specific clothing for kids, including trousers, jumpers, and dresses featuring dinosaurs and spaceships, according to the Daily Mail.
Caroline Bettis, head of childrenswear at John Lewis, told the newspaper, “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.”
“We are absolutely thrilled by this announcement from John Lewis,” the advocacy group Let Clothes Be Clothes, which fights exploitative gender stereotyping in the marketing of children’s clothing, said in a Facebook post. “Alongside changes coming at Clarks Shoes, THIS could be a major turning point for our high street.”
Several social media users responded to the announcement with supportive messages:
Of course, as that last tweet notes, some people are grumbling about the move, including Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who told the Daily Mail that the company’s decision “could be very confusing for the consumer.”
“I cannot see many customers buying a dress for their six-year-old boy,” Bridgen said.
The changes have not yet been made to items available on John Lewis’ website.