The children’s clothes wholesale landscape is changing. In response to more liberal parenting styles and a desire to break away from the traditional gendered trends in clothes, more and more mainstream stockists are looking to create non-gendered products for babies and toddlers.
It started small. Startup companies began the trend in early 2013, when home-grown brands such as Bumkins, Girls Will Be and Handsome in Pink attracted attention for publicising the desire of ‘millennial’ parents to break away from gender norms. These labels were set up in the US by concerned parents.
Mother Laura Burns raised $30,000 (£21,000) for Girls Will Be after her daughter Maya complained about the lack of clothing she could find that suited her sporty, adventurous personality. Ms Burns hit a nerve worldwide, receiving donations from across the globe. The result is a clothing business with design features such as robots and sharks, alongside athletics shorts.
Bumkins, from Atlanta, Georgia, has been rebranding by getting rid of hackneyed pink and blue designs and creating gender-neutral animal prints for babies. Its babygrows are designed to be interchangeable, which is especially useful when your baby grows out of his or her clothes and you can pass them down.
While this may seem like a fad being pushed by hipster brands, the political associations of changing gender norms mean that bigger brands are also beginning to push the envelope. Keen to look supportive of the movement, Gap has started its own range of gender neutral children’s clothing designed by Ellen DeGeneres. GapKids X is an inclusive line for ‘girly’ girls and tomboys alike, designed to provide children with the ability to express their own personalities rather than prescribe to what their friends like.
The real people behind this are millennials and their children. As the political landscape changes and high-profile celebrities come out as transgender, more attention has been focussed on gender issues and whether mainstream society is still oppressing individuals to behave as they dress and to have the prescribed gender traits from a young age.
As fashion generally looks to push the envelope by hiring trans models and male models for female apparel, it is time for children’s clothing to follow suit. To stay ahead of the curve, children’s clothing manufacturers need to look closely at how they design and package their products. Small changes, such as removing the word ‘girl’s’ or ‘boy’s’ from packaging, can be a huge step towards inclusivity.
What does this mean for children’s clothes wholesale? While there is no obligation to take notice of this trend, consumer demand for gender neutral clothes for babies and toddlers seems to be on the rise. In the long run, it could be highly beneficial to your business to stock brands with clothes that are less prescriptive and even ‘edgy’. This does not mean that the traditional ‘pink and blue’ market should be abandoned; instead, it means that wholesalers could benefit from providing a greater range of choice for millennial consumers.