This August, retail chain Target announced that it would no longer separate children’s toys by gender. Removing the “boys” and “girls” labels from the toy aisles, the chain said, helps to reduce the limitations on what shoppers feel they can purchase.
According to a press release from the company, some labels help shoppers find what they need faster, especially when shopping for someone other than themselves. But, they said, “In some departments like Toys, Home or Entertainment, suggesting products by gender is unnecessary.”
The company removed gender labels from the children’s bedding section, but what got the most press was the change made to the toy aisles.
“In the Toys aisles,” the August 7 press release reads, “we’ll also remove reference to gender, including the use of pink, blue, yellow or green paper on the back walls of our shelves.”
While some shoppers declared that the policy was too liberal for them and threatened to boycott on social media — a move that also spawned a sarcastic customer service troll account on Facebook — others have praised the change.
In fact, TheWeek.com points out that although American retailer Target has abolished gendered labels in the toy aisles, clothing should be the next.
Ruth Margolis, writer for TheWeek.com, would like to see the removal of gender in the kids clothing section so she and her child have more options. “The enforced segregation of girls’ and boys’ fashion doesn’t just pigeonhole our kids; it deprives Target and other stores of the cash parents like me would happily splash on gender-fluid — or neutral — garb,” she writes.
“While I’m still in charge of my 2-year-old’s sartorial choices, I’d like the option to clothe her in a way that doesn’t scream ‘girl,'” Margolis explained.
Even onesies and footed pajamas for babies tend to be split by gender according to color, despite being the same garment for all children.
“Onesies by design have always been unisex,” says John Fitzpatrick, CEO, Big Feet Pajama Company. “We find it difficult to conform to marketplaces and retailers that require us to label a solid red onesie for example, for boys, girls, men or women. Our footed pajamas are marketed for the entire family in many colors, most of which are difficult to declare gender specific. Labeling is supposed to enhance or simplify the shopping experience, not define a person because they like green.”
Margolis isn’t the only one who wants more gender neutral options for her child. Three New Jersey moms have launched their own gender-neutral clothing line for kids, instead of waiting for stores like Target to catch up.
Mansi Batra, Jaya Iyer, and Eva Everett started the company, called Svaha, to provide gender-neutral and eco-friendly kids’ clothes over the internet.
“We want to bring smiles to and empower all children in their passions no matter what they may be,” Batra told NJ.com. “All children should wear and be whatever they want, in spite of gender stereotypes.”
Clothing on Svaha’s online shop includes designs for any child featuring printed fabric with motorcycles, butterflies, test tubes, flowers, and more — all without “boy” and “girl” labels.
As for Target, the changes to the toy and bedding aisles will still take place over the next few months. The company has not commented just yet on further planned changes.