January 08, 2017

Just Dress Them Like Kids - Unisex Eco Clothing

By Verena Barthel
Just Dress Them Like Kids - Unisex Eco Clothing

Ever since my boys arrived on the scene, I was determined to find clothes for them that not only felt good (organic, fair trade, cotton production with a minimal impact on the environment), but also were unisex. Not just covered in dinosaurs, bob the builder, robots & Star Wars (just to name a few). I wanted a colour range that was more than just blue, black, grey and green.

Looking back, it certainly wasn’t a straightforward exercise and required a lot of research on my behalf to find brands that were colourful, gender-neutral, organic and sustainable.

This is how Elves in the Wardrobe was born.

Unisex children’s clothes

These can be so difficult to find because stereotypes have become so strong in the fashion industry. This can be extremely difficult when, like me, you have boys that like to try it all: purple & pink, dresses & skirts, pussy cats, 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, 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 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.

Until around World War I, pastels were standard for children's clothing, but today's gender-hue correlations weren't in place, per the Smithsonian. At first, pink was a more masculine colour, and blue was considered softer and more appropriate for girls. These conventions didn't switch until the 1940s, when gendered kids' clothing really became a thing. The effects 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,” Megan Fulcher, associate professor of psychology at Washington and Lee University, told The New York Times.

Gender-neutral brands

Interestingly enough, gender-neutral children's clothing brands have actually been around for decades, and they've been particularly popular in Scandinavia & Europe and lead to way to a gentler & age appropriate approach to childhood.

I have spent a lot of time researching unisex, organic clothes and have truly come to appreciate Internet shopping. Everyone who has a baby & 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, gender-neutral clothes without it.

How we find these clothes when we search the internet, however is dependent upon key directions and 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 important part of online business. Hence the categorisation of the products in my store. I encourage everyone to look at all of the products irrespective of their categories and chose 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 & presently can be found on our Elves in the Wardrobe website prove that kids should just be (and dress like) kids, free of any gender-confining messaging.