It’s pretty amazing (and undeniable) proof of a movement’s success if brands are able to successfully align themselves with it and also manage to make a buck. Or like, a ton of bucks. The point is that kid’s clothing especially falls on a wide spectrum of prices and it means something pretty special if people are seeking out gender-neutral children’s brands in particular to support. Of course, any clothing can technically be gender neutral depending on how it's worn but still, it’s great that companies with thoughtful, inclusive philosophies are being championed.
Some might think that the push to dress children in gender-neutral clothing is snooty or ridiculous, but a lot of it just comes down to designing clothing that purposefully doesn’t make a child concerned with who they should grow up to become. Also, just making girls' clothing more comfortable. And give those little girls some pockets- this is ridiculous. There’s no little girl out there that should be dealing with a purse in order to carry her stuff around- it’s a hassle and everybody knows it. Also, gender-neutral clothing doesn’t have such oddly aggressive boys' clothing. Anyway, it’s a developing market that speaks to our society and these brands lead the way.
Let's start with the 15 gender neutral clothings lines for kids aged 5 and under...
This brand had a boost in exposure because of its founder and taken overall, it’s really such a random news headline. Anyway, Céline Dion founded a line of gender-neutral children’s clothing. Why? Not sure, you’d have to ask her. Just kidding- the Internet already did. She explained that the brand exists to, “enable [little humans] to be who they are, so that their choices are driven by their own true essence and free spirit, beyond stereotypes or any norm.” That said, the cheapest item is a $31 baby hat so maybe just take inspiration from the brand and enable your little ones on your own.
Just as a little side note, it’s pretty interesting which animals are emerging as more popular and common on gender-neutral children’s clothing as opposed to traditionally feminine and masculine kid’s apparel. For instance, clothing that perhaps was once dominated by points and kittens or lions and… whatever a masculine animal is- wolves?- is now replaced with outfits like this. Pandas are making a foray into kid’s wear and we’re here for it! The color scheme of this outfit is honestly adorable, whether it’s for a little one super into pandas or a parent who just really enjoys how cute this getup is.
Gender neutral clothing doesn’t necessarily mean dressing little ones like futuristic Moon inhabitants. It can be as simple as onesies for babies that don’t scream about having a girlfriend and cause some really confusing questions about that infant. So there are a lot more muted shades in gender-neutral clothing and a good amount of gray, but there’s also way more room for charming cartoons because nothing is constrained by gender. Is a cactus for girls or boys? Who cares! That’s a weird and random way to split up the world and also, cactus come in both genders or they’d be extinct.
One of the appeals of gender-neutral clothing isn’t just the social statement it makes. Parents who are fed up with the over-the-top neons and gigantic statements on traditional kid’s clothing may be more inclined to spend their money on classier products. These pants are adorable, loose, comfortable and totally devoid of any unnecessary frills or ruffles that could get caught in something. There’s another perk to gender-neutral clothing- great for hand-me-downs. Not sure what gender the younger sibling will be yet? Truly does not matter. If the prices feel a bit steep, that can be enough to convince some parents with plans for a larger family.
The brand’s designer was asked to explain her products, “Nystrom's approach is simple: "Children should be allowed to be free, and that should be transferred to clothes, as well." So, if a boy wants to wear pink, that's great. Nystrom's design process focuses on story and season, as opposed to gender-specific concepts. And while she's gotten plenty of positive feedback about the brand, some people are a little confused by the genderless concept at first. "Sometimes [customers] are frustrated," she noted. "It will take some time to get used to the idea, I think, but in my mind, it's something that is only natural."
This is just adorable. Who could say no to that onesie? It looks so cozy! It would look right at home in a Northern cabin made from hand-sawed timber. So much of gender-neutral children’s clothing is just a lot more tasteful than the stuff typically peddled, and this is no different. Even if a parent doesn’t intend on having more children, the quality and subtlety of the clothing make it a perfect gift. All of this comes together to forge the designer’s vision of a world with less waste and fewer expectations put onto children before they’re ready to consider those factors.
It’s easy to find traditionally gendered children’s graphic t-shirts that just totally derail into a weird statement about gender. Why should other children, or your own, be looking at that? It sows the seeds for self-doubt and internal standards that can make some children uncomfortable when they should be concentrating on exploring the world and enjoying their little lives. This development in thought around children’s fashion isn’t just about physical comfort, it’s about putting off anxiety and discomfort around identity for as long as possible. Ideally, those worries could go away- it’s idealistic, but this is a huge first step.
The children’s attire industry is massively regulated in all its elements as far as how long any bits that dangle can be (think hoodie strings or decorations) and generally, how much their design can keep kids safe. This is a generalization so it’s not true for every bit of kid’s clothing, but it really feels like this little girl’s outfit is so much more comfortable and easier to move around in than some peplum-waisted kid’s tank top adorned with sequins. All of that has to contribute to safety, as far as a kid getting caught in something or stuck somewhere, right?
How does anyone turn this stuff down? The real genius of gender-neutral children’s clothing isn’t just the patterns or graphics. It’s re-imagining children and the way they dress not as little adults, but as moving bodies figuring out themselves and the world. It prioritizes the child’s experience of wearing the clothing over the world’s perception of that child and honestly, that’s revolutionary. Think of how much girl’s pockets stink. That’s because it’s what’s expected- what if we cared more about the girl's ease with carrying around things? It’s only logical that this is more important than some stranger identifying a child’s gender from a block away.
So much of what makes gender-neutral children’s clothing such an exciting and innovative field that can bring about real positive change in the world as it develops is that the whole purpose is to make children more comfortable in their bodies. That might sound obvious, but considering how viscerally children’s experience emotion and how much time is lost on not loving yourself (as children and as adults), it’s so much more. Feeling uncomfortable in our bodies is a huge obstacle to humanity’s progress- it’s easier to fulfill your own potential when you’re not caught up in nagging, negative thoughts.
It feels like so much of the issues humanity inflicts on itself comes from a place of self-doubt or not being comfortable with one’s self. At the very least, there’s never been a war started out of love. All this is to say that if people had been historically raised to love themselves, we’d probably be a lot more advanced as a species. Sure, it’s pure speculation but giving a child the opportunity to feel comfortable in their body is just as important of a foundation as access to education and healthy food.
Anyway, existential wonderings on where society would be if we loved ourselves more aside- the catchphrases on these shirts are also just really cute. Trucks and slogans about domination aside, boy’s clothing is already more gender neutral than little girls just by being more comfortable. Of course, the themes and patterns are still emotionally restrictive but it’s really girl’s clothing where gender neutrality gets to show off. A lot of these t-shirts are straight up empowering- they’re exciting to see as a child or as a grown woman. It might be awkward the first time an adult compliments your kid’s shirt, but it’s meant in a totally great way.
Other gender-neutral kid’s clothing brands position their products around charming characters that both little girls and boys can wear. How frustrating was it to be given a “My Little Pony” backpack when you’d specifically requested “Power Rangers”? And then your brother gets the “Power Rangers” one you wanted? That just starts off an endless chain reaction of squabbling over who gets to use it. A favorite character shouldn’t be decided by a little kid’s chromosomes. The move towards gender fluidity might be seen as ridiculous by some, but restricting a kid’s interests because of their biology is so much sillier and odder.
How super-duper adorable are these items and how abrasive is seeing a flaming pink shirt before 7 AM? The colors on a lot of kid’s clothing are so loud and abrasive and it’s easy to remember being a little person who felt self-conscious about wearing what feels more like a costume than normal clothing. Babies don’t have that additional level of self-awareness but these kinds of statements and styles just make so much more sense for an itty bitty baby. What’s important is how it feels to live in this kind of clothing, and that’s the priority here.
Of course, it’s this cute- it’s in the name! Bandi Cute Designs is one of the brands made entirely by hand. It’s an incredible level of care that’s amazing if it can be afforded. Of course, a sweater made by grandma or a friend is even more special. It’s completely doable to talk with friends and family members before they pick up the knitting needles about what your child’s clothing should look like. Basically, a little girl doesn’t have to wear a pink hat, especially if her favorite color is green. It’s helpful advice that will only contribute to an article of clothing the child enjoys wearing and thus, wears more.
And now for the gender neutral clothing lines for kids aged 5 and over...
All those Nordic countries are just leagues ahead on the sustainability and gender fluidity elements of kid’s clothing. Not only is Polarn O. Pyret a hilarious name that sounds like it belongs to a charming pirate, but it’s also a gender-neutral brand who largely focuses on creating clothing that can survive long enough to be hand-me-downs. That’s such an awesome objective for a company to have, instead of producing phones that intentionally break down every few years to force customers to keep spending (not naming names but we all know which electronics store at the mall I’m talking about).
No one ever said that gender-neutral clothing had to be boring- that’s totally the opposite of the point. As long as the clothing is functional, safe to play in and comfortable then the second purpose is that a child can actually express their personality through fashion. You know, as opposed to these weirdly specific cookie cutters assigned to them because of biology. If anything, those prescribed definitions of gender make it so much harder to figure out who you are. That stuff is (in a lot of cases) excess to sift through in addition to everything else, not a helpful light to guide a kid.
Besides wanting a better, happier world for the world’s inhabitants of tomorrow- non-gendered clothing is also just a designer’s delight. It’s the half to the equation we rarely consider as customers, but it’s exciting to make something new and different that came from a place of creativity and not just following everyone else. The designers behind beloved British brand Tootsa MacGrinty say, "Customers were bored of what was on offer and [felt] the same despair as me when shopping for children”. The pink dresses and blue shorts get boring and redundant- why not try something else? If not now, when?
Some of these companies were founded by frustrated parents with an enthusiasm for experimentation in statement t-shirts. This is equally relevant to either gender- both little girls and boys may feel constrained or misrepresented by the same few patterns on typical clothes. It might not sound like a big deal to wear a shirt you don’t love, but to be that young and have your sense of fairness and rightness contradicted by wearing something you know somehow that you don’t agree with is the beginning of a confusing duality. It’s subliminal, but as a kid, you know you’re representing something you don’t actually feel and that can become truly painful.
As a final note, these clothes just look dope and futuristic. Those pants look so comfortable- I’d love a pair and most kid’s clothing doesn’t look fun at all to wear. Except for those little leggings- I wore them as a toddler and I still wear them. Well, a slightly larger pair. This outfit simultaneously would look great on an adult and yet isn’t at all too mature for a kid- it’s kind of an awesome balance. It’s just perfect for exploring the world in while discovering the richness of an inner world that’s equally huge- who doesn’t want that for their child?