So we all think it’s probably not a great idea to design clothes that convince boys that they should grow up to be insensitive, loud, shouty adventurers in mega trucks, right?
Or that girls should be sweet, passive princesses who dream of eating fruit with mythical rainbow creatures, right?
Right, Marks & Spencer? Yes, Next? You with us, Sainsbury’s? Tesco? Asda?
To check how we are getting on with this I looked at tops and t-shirts marketed to young boys and girls from these shops. I categorised over 1,000 items that had either text or imagery on them. These are the results:
- Almost two-thirds of content on girls’ tops fall into only a handful of key categories: flowers, unicorns, female TV/film/game characters, rainbows, fruit (?!), hearts and a random collection of domesticated, dainty or pink animals.
- Almost two-thirds of content on boys’ tops fall into even fewer categories: vehicles, dinosaurs, male TV/film/game characters and a random collection of mostly wild, large, dangerous animals.
What about colours? Fancy bits?
And instead of doing some proper, thematic analysis on the slogans, I just thought I’d throw a selection of them at you in the form of short story…
Conclusion: It’s 2019 and this is all a bit bleak, innit?
Small print/method note:
Data was collected between 27th and 31st May 2019. It was taken from the websites of Next, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Asda. Tesco do not sell their clothes online so this was collated from their Tesco Extra Kingston Park, Newcastle upon Tyne store. The age range of clothes used in the study varied depending on how each shop categorised their clothing for young children: Next: 3mths – 7yrs; M&S: 3mths – 16yrs; Sainsbury’s: 9mths – 14yrs; Tesco: 1 – 7yrs; Asda: 1 – 6yrs. All tops and t-shirts with imagery/text were included in the study, abstract patterns and plain tops were not. A single top could be categorised into more than one category (i.e. a dinosaur driving a car would fall into both the ‘dinosaur’ and ‘vehicle’ category). I was quite strict at only categorising rainbows when they were presented as a rainbow, there were many occurrences of rainbow colours being used, unicorn with rainbow-coloured tails etc. that were not included in this category. For colour categorisation, when two or more colours used the dominant one was chosen (where there was no clear dominant colour this was given a ‘multi-colour’ categorisation).