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Genderless kidswear: how the trend is turning into societal statement

By Léana Esch

1 Jul 2021


Monty & Co. (Photo by Louise Gibbens)

Breaking free from all stereotypes, gender-neutral fashion makes its way into kidswear – and is here to stay. FashionUnited deciphers a societal change driven by millennials.

What started as a trend in women’s and men’s runway collections is not a niche statement anymore. Kidswear is letting go of its outdated cliché of pink versus blue, welcoming unisex clothes that allow for self-expression and a neutral concept of gendered identities.

While John Lewis set the pulse racing in 2017 by removing boys’ and girls’ labels from its garments, the industry has since introduced a large array of similar initiatives. Old Navy, Carter and Target are among the forerunners, but many newly launched labels have soared, proving that kidswear can be stylish without being designed with a boy or girl in mind.

Unisex colors such as grey, beige, black, white, or peach prevail to break down boundaries based on hues. Children can wear whatever they want thanks to pattern-free, minimalist clothes that free them from social expectations based on their gender.

Genderless children’s wear focuses on the functional rather than the decorative side of fashion and enables kids to play freely in clothes that do not restrict movements.

Rules have relaxed in the past decade on how to dress as an individual and therefore, as a child. Thanks to the gender-fluid movement mainly, shops do not need to tell customers what is for boys or girls anymore.

This societal shift comes with many advantages for children: more autonomy, an increased self-expression and open-mindedness as well as less imposed stereotypes that might impact their development. Instead, it highlights more important values, chief among them creativity and individuality.

Monty & Co. Core collection blue (Photo by Studio Article)

Functional clothes at Montey & Co.

These very notions transpire in Leigh Montague’s collections for unisex children’s wear brand Monty & Co. The British designer develops functional clothes -- handmade in the UK -- inspired by the workwear wardrobe and that all carry a sense of purpose.

From dungarees and boiler suits to utility jackets, the collections are made from sturdy natural fibres that make for a lot of wear over the years. They are designed with practicality and versatility in mind, two key pillars of unisex kidswear.

The minimalistic genderless clothes feature less patterns and over-the-top prints and colors, bringing a sense of calm to children and a simplicity that supports the senses. The budget-friendly side is just another asset, as it enables parents to pass down clothes regardless of the sex of their children.

With retail at the forefront of cultural shifts, it has become necessary to not just support trends, but reflect societal movements that break down clichés and develop awareness around genderless clothes.

The growth of the group of millennial parents – and their frustration – largely contributes to the rise of genderless kids’ clothes. It has become particularly appealing to them, as they prioritize spending money with brands that align with their own values. As they become parents, they are more likely to spend money with brands that focus on inclusivity and encourage change.

Retailers picking up on the rising demand herald a positive message to a generation that tends to look at brands that share their beliefs. Campaign group Let Clothes Be Clothes calls on retailers in the UK to end the use of gender stereotypes in the design and marketing of children’s clothes. Many unisex brands such as Tootsa, JJ Jiraffe, Shapes of Things and Fred and Noah are engaged in a positive change for children and are driving the industry forward.

The economic impact of genderless kidswear is not to be forgotten. It brings newness without compromising the planet, there is less throwaway clothing in landfills and a reduction of the manufacturing carbon footprint. It becomes a way for brands and retailers to bring in more consumers and increase their profits.

Genderless kidswear does not have to replace the entirety of the children’s wear offer but represents a societal change with a global positive impact. Of course, gender neutral clothing can be an offer as an equal to gendered pieces. The end goal being self-expression, the two should mingle to allow consumers to embrace their true individuality – regardless of their age group.