No Labels No Limits - We Are With You Russell Brand

By Cheryl Rickman
on November 08, 2016


Russell Brand to raise child gender neutralI was invited to be on BBC Radio Scotland's Kay Adams show this morning to discuss gender-neutrality, after Russell Brand has said that he will be raising his first-born child gender-neutral. (I didn't go on in the end as they "already had a Southern voice, and wanted to keep some of the commentators Scottish"). Fair enough.

Russell told Jonathan Ross while appearing on his TV show that he doesn't want his child with Laura Gallacher to be restricted by male or female labels.

"We don’t know the gender I may not even ever impose a gender upon it, let the child grow up and be the whatever the hell it is, never tell it there is such a concept," said Russell on the show.

Anyway... this got me thinking.

Gender neutral is a funny old phrase because the use of the word 'neutral' makes people think of beige, grey and drab colours, which sounds restrictive in itself. And yet, what gender neutrality is REALLY about is getting rid of the limitations that gender stereotypes create to give children more choice, which is what ClimbingTreesKids.com and the campaign I'm an ambassador for, Let Clothes Be Clothes, are all about. It's about more choice and less limitation.

Russell Brand doesn't want his child to be restricted by labels.

Of course, if you say you are raising your child gender neutral, the connotation might be that you are not going to raise that child as a boy or a girl. Perhaps you might even consider using the word 'hen', the Swedish gender-neutral pronoun, intended as an alternative to the gender-specific hon ("she") and han ("he")?

Or, maybe, like me, when I use the word gender neutral, I am talking about removing restrictions and limitations that gender stereotypes perpetuate.

Often, as humans, we make choices in reaction to the extremes that we are opposing so, in opposing gender stereotypes, raising a child as 'gender neutral' is finding an alternative to the overt gender stereotyping that has smothered our stores, screens and magazine pages, since the relatively gender-neutral 1970s, the decade in which I grew up.

For me, getting rid of gender stereotypes is not about getting rid of pink princesses or snarling monsters at the extreme end of perceived femininity or masculinity, because lots of children LOVE pink princesses and snarling monsters. No, for me, the way forward is to cater for the ENTIRE SPECTRUM of colour and motifs; the ENTIRE SPECTRUM of what it means to be a child without the need to label any of it as 'for girls only' or 'for boys only'.

Why? Because labels are restrictive. They lessen choice and remove our children's freedom to just be children and like what they like and play with what they want to play with and wear what they want to wear. No labels = no limits.

With that in mind, a few of us who have taken a stand to battle gender-stereotypes, are joining forces to create a collective called NO LABELS NO LIMITS.

We are stronger together and our goal is ultimately to enable our children to be proud to be all that they are, wear what they wear, play with what they play with and be who they are, without restrictions. 

And, if Russell Brand wants to join us, he'll be more than welcome :-)

No Labels No Limits will include: 

http://www.climbingtreeskids.com
http://www.sewingcircus.co.uk/
http://www.mimiandwill.com
https://www.krakenkreations.co.uk/
https://www.tootsa.com/
https://www.fabricpunk.com/
http://nopinkplease.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theslippychickencompany/

How Do You Search For Kids Clothes? Help Us Show Retailers How To Give Children More Choice Less Limits

By Cheryl Rickman
on April 11, 2016

How Do You Search For Kids Clothes? By Gender or Type or Age? And, if by gender is this because of your own preference or because it's the only option you have been given by the online retailers? We'd love hear from you.

ClimbingTreesKids is working closely with LetClothesBeClothes to show retailers how to give our children MORE CHOICE & LESS LIMITS

I met with John Lewis Head Buyers last week as a spokesperson for Let Clothes Be Clothes and Climbing Trees. The meeting went well with the Head Buyer taking plenty of notes and listening to all feedback. It was great to discover that we share a mutual understanding about the importance of offering CHOICE.

In fact, Caroline Bettis, Head Buyer for Childrenswear at John Lewis said,

"Meeting customer needs is our number one priority. We understand the importance of providing girls and boys with more choice and, as such, we have already rolled out GIRLS&BOYS labeling across much of our childrenswear range and have removed boy / girl from the stitched in labels. We have also designed a range of dinosaur themed clothes for boys and girls across both ranges. We are keen to continue dialogue with Let Clothes Be Clothes and Climbing Trees Kids and consider how we might take your points on board to implement some of the suggestions you’ve made in the future.”

One of our suggestions was about HOW they display their clothing so, we'd be interested to find out how YOU search for clothes when shopping online.

Is it by type? By colour/theme? Or by gender?

And, if by gender is this because of your own preference or because it's the only option you have been given by the online retailers? Interested to know your thoughts - please let us know via this simple poll here: http://letclothesbeclothes.uk/2016/04/07/customerssearchbygender

Jess Day, campaigner for Let Toys Be Toys - For Girls and Boys told us that their campaign also got the same answer from toy retailers to begin with, but gender categories are now much less common on toy websites and people are still finding dolls and trucks just fine. She says:

"Of the 11 sites which used gender as a prominent category when we looked at this issue in 2014, 4 have dropped gender from their toy sections altogether. So 'boys' and 'girls' toy sections on websites have gone from being the most common primary navigation, to relatively unusual, in less than four years. Obviously clothes and toys aren't exactly the same, but it's worth making the comparison: retailers thought these categories were indispensible to shoppers. They weren't."

Please help us to show retailers how to give children more choice, less limits by gathering more research and sharing this link: http://www.climbingtreeskids.com/blogs/news/96940673-how-do-you-search-for-kids-clothes-help-us-to-show-retailers-how-to-give-children-more-choice-less-limits

Climbing Trees Kids also appeared on an Arabic blog where we talked about how to shatter the pink is for girls and blue is for boys stereotype.

You can read more here: https://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/art-and-culture/2016/03/26/How-to-shatter-the-pink-is-for-girls-blue-is-for-boys-stereotype-.html

Children Now Have Less Freedom Be Themselves

By Cheryl Rickman
on November 26, 2015

As printed in my new Lifestyle Column for The Daily Echo...As 70s kids we wore mostly brown and orange. Lego was only produced in primary colours, and bikes were generally red. We played with whatever we wanted and pink was just another colour. Boys often sported long hair, girls often didn’t; we were free just to be; to be ourselves.

Fast-forward some decades and pink has become the epitome of femininity, used to market everything. In supermarket baby aisles, the boys’ section swims in a sea of baby blue and the girls’ in pink. It’s a commercial no-brainer for retailers to offer best-selling clothes and pink outsells other pastels. But perhaps this is because of the lack of alternative choice? Why not add other colours and represent the full spectrum of what it means to be a child, without limitations? Some children like stuff that fits the stereotype but some don’t. Do children really need to be restricted and told what to like before they can even walk?

Children are increasingly polarised into stereotyped boxes and told what they should like. Signs above toys and clothes say boys must like dinosaurs and vehicles and girls must like princesses and butterflies. But what if they don’t? Some children are deciding not to wear stuff labelled as for the opposite sex for fear of being teased. That’s so limiting for children.

As parents we can buy their clothes from the other aisle, and we do but, the point is, we shouldn’t have to.

There’s nothing wrong with pink princesses, but there’s so much more to girls than that. Equally, there’s nothing wrong with snarling Marvel characters, but there’s so much more to boys than that.

Retailers should not abolish pink or princesses though. They are loved by many and we want retailers to provide more choice not less.

The good news is retailers are listening. LetToysBeToys persuaded many to remove gender signage telling boys to play with trucks and girls with dolls. A couple of weeks ago, representing LetClothesBeClothes, I met with Mothercare who, already leading the way with Jools Oliver’s unisex LittleBird range have made some promising promises (#watchthisspace).

After meeting with Tesco’s F&F they’ve agreed to make girls clothes more practical over pretty, with longer shorts and robust cardigans. Let’s hope we’re moving towards a sea-change back to that playful, expressive era of freedom of choice where children can just be themselves.

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THIS is a copy of my brand new column in The Daily Echo - Choice Words where I'll be writing about gender related issues and how to help our children to flourish in today's world.

Climbing Trees were also proud to be included as the lead feature in last week's Echo

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Leading Retailers Begin To Realise That Girls Like Dinosaurs (and Star Wars) Too

By Cheryl Rickman
on September 28, 2015

Today Tesco's F&F Clothing have told Climbing Trees that they have "removed gender specification" from their "new Halloween dress-up costumes which will be hitting stores shortly" - a move that signals some small yet significant changes are finally taking place within the childrens' clothing industry. (Although, online, models still wear specific costumes to "show parents what items look like").

This is the first of a bunch of changes following discussions we had with F&F about reducing limitations that gender stereotyping creates in a bid to provide all children with more choice and improved practicality.

F&F have also told us that "We are considering your views as we develop our ranges, for example longer lengths on shorts for girls and more robust cover up items (cardigans). You will see these come through in next years ranges."

This is a massive step forward and something Climbing Trees is very proud to have been instrumental in changing, as we read out comments from parents who highlighted concerns about the limited practicality of certain girls' clothing, among other issues.

Back in July, ClimbingTreesKids.com were invited to represent Let Clothes Be Clothes to meet with Head Buyers from Tesco's F&F. The objective was to start up a conversation on gender stereotyping and hopefully guide them towards making changes that would give children more choice and reduce the restrictive stereotyping around gender labels that has steadily increased over the past decade.


Said, Cheryl Rickman who met with F&F buyers: "The result was promising and positive. Although they couldn't publicly commit to any specific changes, they demonstrated that they are listening and interested in learning as much as they can about the issues that concern many parents today.  We discussed a number of potential changes that would make a difference and they DO intend to make a few small but worthwhile changes based on our suggestions."

F&F said: "We're interested to understand more about this and we want to do the right thing by our customers. So we're prepared to give what we've heard today serious consideration as you've made some really good points."

Fast track two months and a lot has happened in retail:

The weekend after the Tesco's meeting, Target announced they would be removing gender signage from their toy department. They chose not to do the same within their clothing department due to sizing differences. (Across retail, sizing is determined and set by Size UK which provides guidelines based on the average size of girls and boys across the nation).

In the clothing department, Next led the way with their new Star Wars range in the girls' aisle, featuring various Star Wars tops and leggins.

M&S followed in close pursuit offering dinosaur pyjamas for girls as well as boys. (We were quick to place an order for the dino-loving Climbing Trees co-founder).

With Disney Stores recently announcing the removal of gender signage from their fancy dress items, Climbing Trees and F&F are continuing dialogue to see what other changes can be made.

"In an ideal world retailers would remove all gender labels, provide more unisex options and,if they are going to label clothes by gender, place items that have been traditionally reserved 'for boys only' or 'for girls only' in BOTH aisles, because girls like dinosaurs, pirates and robots (and boys like kittens and butterflies) too!," says co-founder of ClimbingTreesKids.com, Cheryl Rickman.

"That said, we understand that they are in the business of making money, so they will only make changes if they know it will positively impact their bottom line as well as enhancing their relationships with their customers. We don't expect them to remove clothes that sell well, but we hope they may consider adding more choice by removing or, at least, reducing the gender-based limitations that currently proliferate."

The good news is that retailers are starting to make steps in the right direction by providing clothes that have, until now, been marketed 'for boys only' as 'for girls too'.

"That's exactly how Climbing Trees came about - because girls like to play with dinosaurs and pirates, get muddy and climb trees just as much as boys; hence our range of tops featuring those motifs 'for girls too'."

Consequently, Climbing Trees has garnered a good deal of media attention by providing something not previously offered. Now it seems that the larger retailers are catching on. Which, says Cheryl, "is brilliant news!"

"One reason why we launched ClimbingTreesKids.com was because my daughter and I were fed up of going down the girls' aisle and finding nothing that she loved. So we made our own range featuring stuff that had been labelled 'for boys'.

If we can now go into mainstream retailers and find clothes in her own aisle that she will wear, that is brilliant news and definitely worth celebrating."

It's about labelling. Kids are kids. Some boys and girls like stuff that fits the stereotype but some dont. They shouldn't be boxed in and restricted and told what to like before they can even walk. Climbing Trees feels it is important for retailers to offer more choice to provide for the whole spectrum of what it means to be a boy or girl without limitations. 

"We don't want retailers to get rid of all the pink princesses and butterflies altogether," declares Cheryl. "My football-loving daughter may be princess-averse but many children DO love those things and retailers are not going to remove clothes that sell. Nor would we want them to, because that would be reducing choice rather than offering more choice, which is what we're all about. We simply want them to add A WIDER CHOICE of colours and motifs to their ranges for both genders, so that girls who love Spiderman and boys who like Frozen can find the stuff they love in their own aisle, (if aisles must be segregated). And, in time, #ditchthegenderlabels altogether."

And, with the changes being implemented by leading retailers and clothing distrubtors here in the UK, it looks like this dream may slowly come to fruition in the coming years so that children can choose clothes based on their interests, regardless of gender. This will further encourage children to be proud to be all that they are and play with/wear what they like, without being dictated to by society and retailers alike.

More Than One Way To Battle Gender Limitations

By Cheryl Rickman
on July 26, 2015

In my day (I'm a 70s baby) we wore mostly brown and orange. Lego was only produced in primary colours, and 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 and clothes to razors and even pens 'for women'. (True story). And, if you venture into the baby aisle in Asda you will be literally pinked round the face whilst the boys’ aisle is filled with baby blue. Pink outsells white and other colours by a huge percentage which is partly why retailers keep on pumping out the pink, but the sheer volume of the colour in favour over all others is somewhat disheartening and oh so limiting, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Girls and boys have increasingly been polarised into stereotyped boxes and told what they should like. Boys like dinosaurs, robots and monsters. Girls like princesses, butterflies and glitter. But what if they don’t?

There is nothing wrong with pink princesses, but there is so much more to girls than that. Equally, there is nothing wrong with snarling Marvel characters, but there is so much more to boys than that.

In an ideal utopia, a purists’ paradise, there would be no gender stereotypes whatsoever; no labelling as ‘girly’ or ‘boyish’ and, crucially, no signs, aisles or gender-based departments. There would simply be unisex options with all children free to choose what to wear and what to play with, without being limited by retail or societal definitions of what is ‘for a boy’ and what is ‘for a girl’. Everything would just be ‘for children’.

I love this idealistic notion, although I do believe there are other ways to tackle gender stereotypes en route to this vision. Ever since my daughter was three and expressing her likes and dislikes, I have been miffed by her being unable to find what she liked in the girls’ aisle; whilst in contrast, the boys’ aisles have dulled-down their colour schemes and focused on roaring fighty ‘here comes trouble’ slogans and motifs. Of course, I do what many people do, I bought (and still buy) the majority of my daughter’s clothes from the boys’ aisle, occasionally stumbling upon a purple or green t-shirt buried amongst the pink in the aisle deemed as suitable for her own gender.

That said, I know many of her female friends, the majority in fact, who LOVE the overtly ‘girly’ toys and clothes on offer in the girls section who do, like it or not, fit the stereotype. Some of them like dinosaurs, climbing trees and Star Wars too, but some of them really don’t and opt for pink butterflies and princesses by default.

Crucially, NONE of these girls are wrong. What is wrong is when retailers/society tell them that they are wrong for liking/playing with/wearing something that is 'girly' or 'for boys'. And in our dreams for a unisex society which is not limited or restricted by gender stereotypes, we should remember that retailers ought to cater to all tastes, across the entire spectrum of what it means to be a child. (We don’t want girls who DO fit the stereotype to feel ostracised for being themselves; just as we don’t want girls who don’t fit the stereotype to feel that way, as Amanda Deibert points out wonderfully on XOJane in her blog about why she doesn’t want her daughter to hate pink).

Thankfully, the increasingly limited definitions of what it means to be a girl or boy has generated a growing movement of mums who have been roused to take action and do something about it in various ways.

Indeed having struggled for years to find clothes in the girls’ aisle that my 7 year old dinosaur-loving football-fanatic daughter loved, she and I decided to launch our own range of brightly coloured bold t-shirts featuring the dinosaurs, monsters and pirates that were once exclusive to boys' clothing, but which would sit comfortably in the girls’ aisle and appeal to all girls.

In doing so, http://www.ClimbingTreesKids.com (which launched in June 2015) aims to give children a choice not previously offered to them whilst enabling them to escape the limited definitions that they are boxed into. And, in so doing, empowering those girls who are told ‘that’s for boys’ with the chance to say, ‘actually, it’s for girls too! Look!’

In order to do that we decided to design a range that would appeal to ALL girls, whose preferences range from one end of the spectrum to the other. So our range features cute dinosaurs carrying flowers and splashing in puddles; female robots with bows on their antennae and hearts on their monitors; a feisty girl pirate, a snazzy She-Rex and a rainbow rocket, all designed by independent up-and-coming British designers and screen printed here in the UK.

We purposefully chose to feature girls wearing our tops and to go on a mission to empower girls to be all they can be for two reasons. Firstly, because I have a daughter and the lack of dinosaur tops for girls was our absolute WHY and reason for starting up in the first place. Secondly, we wanted to ensure that we didn’t dilute our primary message of giving girls a choice not previously offered to them.

Vitally though, although we chose to feature female models and add subtle ‘feminine’ touches to a couple of our designs in order to make a point, we are not saying our range is FOR GIRLS ONLY. We are saying our range is FOR GIRLS TOO. That’s an important definition. We know that some boys love our range and much prefer our brightly coloured tees to the dark and dingy colourways on offer in the boys’ aisle. As such we are purposefully ClimbingTreesKids.com.

Indeed, my daughter’s friend Elliot features on the site wearing his favourite colour pink monster top from our range - because boys like pink too (yes we have one out of 7 tops in hot fuscia pink because we have nothing against pink, just a lot against pink as the primary and sometimes only option). We also link to a number of websites who are part of the movement; doing their bit by providing boys with more choice (e.g. via HandsomeInPink, MyPrincessBoy and SelfishMother.com).

Of course, consequently, we knew that by adding a subtle ‘girly’ twist to a couple of tops in our range of six t-shirts some ‘unisex-only' campaigners might feel that we are in fact perpetuating gender stereotypes. Yet we feel so passionately about providing a choice to girls that is not currently offered, we decided that was a risk worth taking. Ultimately, we are on the same team. We have found one way to provide girls with a choice not currently offered to them and are pro-actively taking a step forward to flag up the issue of gender-based limitations and reclaim stereotypical motifs ‘for all’.

Others might wonder why we don’t just continue to get my daughter’s clothes from the boys’ aisle rather than go to all this trouble to create an alternative solution. And of course, we shall. Frankly, we have no other choice, and therein lies the point and our raison d'etre – lack of choice.

Currently, generally (with ClimbingTreesKids.com and a handful of others the exception) in order to get clothes featuring dinosaurs, rockets and pirates, my daughter can only find those in the boys aisle; she can’t buy those clothes from the girls aisle. That’s why we decided to take that first step on the journey towards gender-neutrality; towards that utopian unisex ideal where there are no gender-labels. That first step to provide a choice where none existed beforeto create a range of tops featuring those motifs that had, until now, been reserved exclusively ‘for boys only’ that could fit perfectly well in the like-it-or-not-still-feminine-girls-aisle.

And so that’s what we did.

It’s a first step and, as such, it’s a step forward, onward and upward. In doing this, we can provide dinosaur tops to the whole broad spectrum of girl – at one end of the spectrum, those Star-Wars-Ninjago-loving girls (like my daughter) who prefer to shop in the boys’ aisle and curl their noses up at Barbies and baby pink and, at the other end of the spectrum, those girls who embrace their in-built femininity (yes – it exists for many and shouldn't be dismissed) who fit into the pink-princess stereotype that retailers box the entirety of girlhood into; plus all other girls in-between (i.e. those who like dressing up as princesses/playing My Little Pony one day and playing Knights and football and climbing trees the next) – something that ALL GIRLS can choose from their OWN aisle, without having to venture into the boys aisle to find the clothes they love. And that is why we chose to add a few subtle elements to our designs which might appeal to those girls who do like those things.

As an active girl who loves sport (especially football, with which she is significantly obsessed) this whole pro-active ‘taking action’ thing has been empowering for my daughter and I.

And, to receive messages and photos from customers saying how happy their little girl (who loves her dinosaurs and dolls equally) is to wear a dinosaur top that is ‘made for her’ rather than having to borrow her brother’s all the time. That makes the journey worthwhile.

In business it’s hard to be all things to all people. You need a niche and you need to solve a problem. The problem we are striving to solve is that there weren’t any dinosaur/pirate/rocket or robot tops in the girls’ aisle; so we created some. And if giving girls a choice that they didn’t have before is wrong; if showing little girls that those motifs are NOT just for boys only but for girls too is wrong, frankly… we don’t want to be right. :-)

One day (hopefully) there will be no aisles – just a children’s section where uber-feminine/uber-masculine and unisex clothing mingles together without labelling (because we cannot get rid of pink princesses or snarly characters, as they are just as valid for some children as anything else).

Just as girls and boys preferences range from one end of the spectrum to the other, so should the full spectrum of colours of the rainbow be accessible for all children. No more pink or pastels or brights and princesses for girls only and no more blue or dark and dinosaurs for boys only.

Step one – make the former available for boys too; and the latter available for girls too.

Step two – do away with labelling altogether.

Children should BE PROUD TO BE WHO THEY ARE AND LIKE WHAT THEY LIKE without limitations. That’s what we all want for our children and we salute everyone who is part of this movement, taking action to make that happen; however they choose to do it. Because there are many ways to tackle this gender-limitation issue. And we are proud to be doing something about it.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far.

Because Boys Like Pink Too

By Cheryl Rickman
on July 10, 2015

Meet Elliot. He’s a good friend of Climbing Trees Co-Founder B’s and his favourite colour is pink. According to his mum he didn’t take off our one-eyed-monster top all weekend.

Just as my daughter struggles to find anything she likes amongst the pink princesses and pastel coloured kittens in the girls aisle, similarly, when Elliot walks down the boys’ aisle he faces the same sigh-inducing limited definitions of what it means to be a boy: dark colours, fighty superheroes and “here comes trouble” slogans. They are just not him.

Pink is. It’s his absolute favourite colour. But, according to too many retailers, pink is ‘for girls only’.

There are lots of children who don’t conform to the increasingly narrow and ludicrously limited definitions of feminine and masculine in these gender-segregated aisles. Nor should they have to.

Just as there are lots of girls who like dinosaurs and pirates and cars and football, there are boys who like pink and Elsa and jewellery and kittens. They are not wrong. Just as those girls who adore pink princesses and those boys who adore ninja battles are not wrong either. Children, like adults, should be free to choose to like whatever they wish to like; to be whoever they wish to be; from whichever end of the spectrum of what society deems as ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ as they want to.

I have a daughter and encountered these limitations so frequently it led me to take action by creating a range that said ‘hey… hold on there… but girls like dinosaurs too’; a range that would fit readily in any girls’ aisle but reclaimed motifs that have been exclusively reserved for boys only as for girls too. And that’s the important part – our range is not 'for girls only' but 'for girls TOO!'

We are so pleased to see mums of boys who have faced the same predicament launching clothing ranges which give boys more choice too. Our friends over at HandsomeInPink.com, QuirkieKids.com and MyPrincessBoy.com are doing great stuff. Also, ‘brother’ site to PrincessFreeZone.com is BeFreeZone.com and we especially love this top by SelfishMother.com

There's also a book by Fiona Paterna  which addresses this issue called Dylan Likes Pink.

So why do we feature mostly girls on our site (for now)?

We decided we needed to in order to get our point across with the most impact - to get heard and to appeal to our niche (primarily parents of daughters who love dinosaurs but can't find them in the girls' aisle). Most businesses are launched as a reaction against the status quo in a bid to provide a solution to a problem; to provide a choice that wasn’t offered before, but should be.

For us, the best way to convey our message and to create a solution was by creating a range that said ‘girls like dinosaurs too’; a range that would appeal to ALL girls – not just girls like my daughter who always opt for the clothing in the boys’ aisle but for girls who like to dress up as Spiderman one day and a princess the next. As such, because our ‘why’ for doing this was to give little girls more choice, a choice not previously offered, we needed to create a range featuring motifs that had previously been exclusively ‘for boys’ that would appeal to all girls (those who like stuff from the feminine end of the spectrum as well as those who like stuff from the masculine end of the spectrum).

We decided the best way to do this was to play the retailers at their own game – to fuse motifs that have been deemed for too long by retailer and society as ‘girly’ with motifs that have been reserved just ‘for boys’.

Crucially though, we are not saying our range is FOR GIRLS ONLY. We are saying our range is FOR GIRLS TOO. That’s an important definition. We know that some boys will love our range and much prefer our range of brightly coloured tees to the dark and dingy colourways on offer in the boys’ aisle. (So, if you buy a Climbing Trees top for your son, please do send in your photos to us here at Climbing Trees so that we may add them to our gallery). We are purposefully ClimbingTreesKids.com. As such we nod with subtlety to unisex. However, we have chosen strategically not to promote ourselves as unisex at this stage because we wanted to have clarity in our launch marketing. We wanted to clearly say ‘there were no dinosaur tops for girls, so we made some. Because girls like dinosaurs too.’ We wanted to talk directly to our niche market of parents like me who struggled to find clothes in the girls’ aisles for their dinosaur-loving daughters by creating a range of dino tops for girls too. Fundamentally, I have a daughter and so I wanted to solve THAT problem – to take that first step to reclaim those motifs as for girls too. And so that is precisely what we’ve done.

We have nothing against ‘girly’ or ‘boyish’ as clothes that are deemed as such represent opposite ends of the spectrum which many children LOVE; we are merely against not making those options available FOR ALL and, like many other campaigners, the labelling of clothes as just ‘for boys’ or just ‘for girls’. Our tops are available for boys too, and we have male customers. Elliot being one of them. In the future we plan to feature more boys wearing our tops. But we currently feature primarily girls wearing our t-shirts because girls wanting to wear dinosaur tops is our absolute WHY and reason for starting in the first place; to be anything different would dilute the message of giving girls a choice not previously offered to them. It really is that simple. (Just like other campaigns which are part of the movement to empower girls to be all that they are use girls in their marketing).

There are, of course, many wonderful unisex stores and purist/idealist campaigns such as Let Clothes Be Clothes (the founder of whom runs Sewing Circus - which also gives children more choice) doing great things to promote unisex clothes and focus on that long-term goal which we all share of there being no gender labels at all – just clothes – available for all. However we believe that there are MANY WAYS to tackle the gender stereotype issue – not just ‘unisex or nothing’.

For example, 'girly' versions of ‘boy’ stuff and 'boyish' versions of ‘girl' stuff are, in our view, a step forward. Some might say this merely perpetuates the gender stereotypes. We disagree. We see this as vitally playing gender stereotypes at their own game; twisting them round to provide a choice not previously offered to say ‘girls like dinosaurs too’ and ‘boys like butterflies too’. So whilst we are absolute advocates of the more idealistic view of removing all gender labels to let clothes be clothes (like toys should just be toys; not segmented for either sex), we also think that another viable way to tackle this issue and take a first step towards an end to gender stereotyping is to promote what has been reserved for boys only as for girls too and what has been reserved for girls only as for boys too. We are part of that movement – to give children a choice not previously offered to them; a crucial building block that advocates more choice. And choice is what we are all about.

Motifs such as princesses and sparkles, Ninjas and footballs are not wrong, what is wrong is saying they are exclusive to one gender or another. People get confused and think that anyone using those motifs in clothes are perpetuating gender stereotypes. However, we believe it’s HOW you use them that matters. For example we are using those motifs – those which have been exclusively reserved for boys and mixing them up with those which have been exclusively reserved for girls for good reason - for a positive purpose.

Yes, girls who like dinosaurs can go and buy a dinosaur top from the boys’ aisle, but the point is that THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE TO! We have bought t-shirts for my daughter from the boys' aisle since she was three (for four years now) and we don't mind doing so. We just feel that those motifs through which children express their love for something, shouldn't be reserved for one gender. We wanted to reclaim them 'for girls too' and the best way for us to do so and make them appeal to all girls was to fuse what have been exclusively 'boy' motifs with what have been exclusively 'girly' motifs. Of course this is complex issue. Some wish to rid the world of gender stereotypes so that there is no such thing as 'boyish' or 'girly'. In the future I believe this may happen. However, I fear that, in eradicating boyish/girly motifs completely we could disregard the likes of those who LOVE those motifs – whichever gender they are. We realise that unisex campaigners want to banish the world of labels not to banish the world of pink or princesses. Although some, such as PinkStinks and PrincessFreeZone seem like they are anti-pink-princesses, we realise they are not against boyish/girly motifs per se, they just don’t want such motifs to be labelled as one or the other or for such motifs to be the ONLY OPTION. We too want this, but we know it will take a while for this to happen and requires a lot of social conditioning over many years to be undone.

So, as a route towards the end to all stereotyping, we believe girl versions of traditionally 'boyish' stuff and boy versions of traditionally 'feminine' stuff is a BIG step forward as it's a choice not previously provided. Quite simply, whilst supermarkets and retail shops do continue to have separate aisles based on gender, as I have a daughter, I wanted to create a range that would sit comfortably in the girls' aisle, so she didn't always have to go to the boys' aisle to get her dinosaur tops. I wanted to provide her and other girls with a choice not previously offered. And so that is what we've done.

Of course, as we've seen, the limitations of gender stereotyping apply to boys who like pink too. Children should BE PROUD TO BE WHO THEY ARE AND LIKE WHAT THEY LIKE. So that they can ignore the limitations perpetuated by retailers and adopted by society. When anyone tells them ‘that’s for boys’ or ‘that’s for girls’ they can say ‘no, that’s for children’ with their heads held high. That’s what we want for our children. And so, by reclaiming stuff ‘for boys’ and providing them ‘for girls too’… we are taking a step forward, breaking down limitations and giving children more choice.

Thank you for your support.

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