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John Lewis has become the first major UK store to remove “boys” and “girls” labels from children’s clothing in a bid to reduce “gender stereotypes”.
The retailer has also removed “girls” and “boys” signs in kids’ clothing sections of stores and introduced “gender neutral” pieces.
Campaign groups and some parents have praised the shop for leading the way in gender neutral clothing, but some critics have accused it of taking political correctness too far.
The new labels say “Girls & Boys” or “Boys & Girls” and will be put on all own-brand items from newborn to 14-years-old – including floral dresses.
The store will still sell pink and blue items, but a new range of clothing has been introduced and designed to be worn by both boys and girls.
The range includes baby grows, tops, trousers and dresses with dinosaur, safari and spacecraft print designs.
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.”
Campaign group Let Clothes Be Clothes praised the move, saying: “We believe John Lewis is the first high street retailer to remove its gender signs and labels.
“It’s fantastic news and we hope other shops and online retailers will now move in the same direction. A T-shirt should be just a T-shirt – not a T-shirt just for girls or just for boys.
“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. We still see many of the supermarkets, for example, using stereotypical slogans on their clothing.”
But Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said the move could “confuse” customers.
He told the Mail: ‘I have no idea what would possess John Lewis to do this. Boys and girls labels and signs are informative.
“I think removing them could be very confusing for the consumer. It appears political correctness continues to march and, whether it is going in the right direction, is a point for debate. I cannot see many customers buying a dress for their six-year-old boy.”
And Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said there is a danger the move could create more problems for children and young people.
“John Lewis is a reputable and admirable retailer and I have no doubt that getting rid of gender labels is well-intentioned,” he said. “In isolation, one retailer introducing unisex clothing and labels would not be an issue.
“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.
“There is a dangerous social phenomenon occurring of gender identity theft, which says there is no difference between boys and girls when of course there is.”
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