Ever since my boys arrived on the scene, I was determined to find clothes for them that not only felt good but also were unisex. I was looking for organic, fair trade, cotton production with a minimal impact on the environment too. In other words, not just clothes covered in dinosaurs, Bob the Builder, robots and Star Wars (to name only a few). Also, I wanted a colour range that was more than just blue, black, grey and green. Looking back, it certainly wasn’t a straightforward exercise. It required a lot of research on my behalf to find brands that were colourful, gender-neutral, unisex eco clothing. In fact, this is how Elves in the Wardrobe was born.
These can be so difficult to find because stereotypes are strong in the fashion industry. Consequently, finding unisex eco clothing can be frustrating when, like me, you have boys that like to try it all: purple and pink, dresses and shorts, cats and cars, you name it!
Back in my day (I’m a 70s baby) we wore mostly brown and orange. Lego was only produced in primary colours. Bikes, in general, were red, blue or white. Pink was just another colour. Fast-forward a few decades and pink has become the epitome of femininity and used to market everything; from toys to clothes. The same pink-or-blue tropes dominate clothing as well as toy offerings for kids. But it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, until around World War I, pastels were standard for children’s clothing. Today’s gender-hue correlations weren’t in place, per the Smithsonian.
Surprisingly, pink was considered a more masculine colour, and blue was considered softer and more appropriate for girls. These conventions didn’t switch until the 1940s. It was then that gendered kids’ clothing really became a thing. According to some psychologists, the effects may go beyond merely dressing a tot in pink or blue. “Children may then extend this perspective from toys and clothes into future roles, occupations, and characteristics,” says Megan Fulcher, associate professor of psychology at Washington and Lee University. Here’s the article in The New York Times.
Interestingly enough, gender-neutral children’s clothing brands have actually been around for decades, and they’ve been particularly popular in Scandinavia & Europe. This may lead the way to a gentler and age-appropriate approach to childhood. I have spent a lot of time researching unisex, organic clothes, and, as a result, have come to truly appreciate Internet shopping. Everyone who has a baby and toddler, lives in rural Australia and is conscious about their children’s wardrobe, will understand what I am talking about. It is near impossible to find organic, unisex eco clothes without it.
We find these clothes by using search terms such as “organic clothes for boys” or “girl’s dresses”. These specific search terms help parents find beautiful organic clothes for their children and are an essential part of online business. Hence the categorisation of the products in my store. However, I encourage everyone to look at all of the products irrespective of their categories and choose the organic clothes that will best support your children’s free spirits.
The organic, eco-friendly, gender-neutral labels I found back in my early motherhood years, and presently, can now be found on our Elves in the Wardrobe website. We offer the opportunity for kids to be (and dress like) kids and choose to be free of any gender-confining signals.
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