The other day I went clothes shopping with my son and was greeted by a wave of blues, greys, trucks and dinosaurs. While on the other side of the aisle were pinks, pastels, unicorns and glitter. I'm sure you've experienced the same? Gender distinction by colour, size, print and fit are something we've all grown used to.
But does it have to be this way? And are the alternatives any better? In this article we look at how unisex clothing can make a positive difference to children, their parents and carers, and the planet.
But first, what is unisex clothing? In short, it's clothing that's suitable for everyone, girls and boys (men and women) alike. The term can be used interchangeably with gender-neutral and/or stereotype-free clothing. That's how we often refer to it at Ducky Zebra. And the benefits? Well, here are our top 5:
1. Unisex clothing avoids gender stereotypes
Does a pink unicorn t-shirt really matter? And what's so wrong with a blue dino-dude top? If it was only once in a while it would be fine. But sadly these types of clothes are widespread across the high street, and this does cause a problem.
Why? Research shows that stereotypes in early years can go on to influence decisions and choices later in life, including subject choices, career paths, confidence, mental health and behaviour. And so while a cute, pretty t-shirt might seem harmless, the stereotype it reinforces can go on to have a big impact. Indeed, by the time children are 6 years old they've already made sense of the world around them and their role within it. They’ve sussed out the ‘colour rules’ of pink for girls and blue for boys, the ‘toy rules’ of dolls and prams for girls and tractors and balls for boys, and the ‘behaviour rules’ of kind and caring for girls and bold and heroic for boys.
By buying unisex clothes we can break these 'rules' and challenge any harmful stereotypes.
2. Opening up more opportunities for our children
Not only does unisex clothing challenge these gender stereotypes, but it also opens up more opportunities for our children. Clothes allow us to express who we are and how we feel. But when they're heavily gendered from birth, this can force children to conform and behave in a particular way.
Unisex clothes remove these 'boxes' or ‘limits’ and allow children to be whoever and whatever they want to be. Why can't a girl be bold, brave and dinosaur-loving? Or a boy be kind, caring and pink-loving? At Ducky Zebra we believe they can. The idea behind unisex clothing is to lift these limits and allow children’s personalities to shine through.
3. Better for sharing
When asked about the benefits of unisex clothing in a recent Ducky Zebra survey, over 55% of respondents said 'easy sharing and swapping'. They can be passed on to friends and family, regardless of their gender. One respondent mentioned “I have a girl and a boy, so anything that can be shared is a bonus!” This is especially the case when the clothes have been made to a high quality, such as Ducky Zebra's clothes, allowing them to last the test of time.
4. Saves parents and carers money
5. Better for the environment
Not only does unisex clothing save us money through easy-swapping, but it’s also better for the environment. By easily sharing the clothes with others, regardless of their gender, we can extend the lifespan of the clothes, and delay them going to landfill.
Plus, many new brands that offer unisex clothing, such as Ducky Zebra, have a high-awareness of the climate crisis, and are committed to producing their clothes more sustainably. If you want to find out more about how we at Ducky Zebra are committed to slow, sustainable fashion, take a look here.
To close, we’ll finish with a quote from a parent of two boys, which encapsulates the above points perfectly.
“I absolutely hate the implicit messaging on both boys and girls clothing, such as ‘mischief maker’ for boys, and ‘happiest at home’ for girls. Gendered clothing is also impractical for both genders. For instance, shorts that are too long for boys and too short for girls. Gender-neutral or unisex means better clothing for everyone. It is clothing that is fun, practical and environmentally friendly - due to it being passed down more easily.”
What are your thoughts on unisex kids’ clothing? Can you think of any other benefits? We would love to hear from you.