Published: Wed, September 06, 2017
Money | By Oscar Reynolds

Dresses for boys as John Lewis goes 'gender neutral'

Dresses for boys as John Lewis goes 'gender neutral'

But John Lewis' move to counter this has been met with criticism from some.

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan said on the show: "Can we call it John Lewis anymore or does it have to be Joan Lewis?"

Asda was also criticised for selling boys" T-shirts with slogans like "Future Scientist" and "Boys Will Be Boys" on them, while the girls clothing had slogans like "Pretty Rock" and "Hey Cutie' on them.

The company operates an online shopfront in Australia however children's clothing on this website are still categorised by gender.

"But by following this fashion to go genderless, I fear they are supporting a wider movement which risks confusing children and foists adult worries on to young people", he added. The only substantive modification to the retailer's existing children's brand is the addition of a unisex line featuring items like dinosaur-print dresses and spaceship tops, which seek to cut through gender stereotypes. In our shops, girls and boys clothing are still positioned in the same way as they have always been and online customers can search by "girl" or "boy" if they choose to.

Of course lots of children are lucky enough to have loving parents who will let them wear anything regardless of whether it says "girl" or "boy", so the view that gender labels are redundant anyway makes sense.

And let us be clear that John Lewis haven't changed their ranges in any way; they aren't wheeling out neutral colourways and patternless designs, or insisting our children dress as tiny, uniformed clones.

"At John Lewis, ensuring we meet our customer needs is our number one priority", said Caroline Bettis, head of childrenswear at John Lewis.

The decision makes John Lewis the only United Kingdom retailer to have removed gender labels from children's clothing.

"Higher-end, independent clothing retailers have been more pro-active at creating gender-neutral collections, but we hope unisex ranges will filter down to all price points".

A spokesperson for John Lewis told BuzzFeed News in a statement that they were surprised to the reaction to its labels - considering they introduced them a year ago. "Meanwhile, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority has pledged to eliminate gender stereotypes which will inevitably put further pressure on brands to embrace more gender neutral messaging".

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