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John Lewis Has Made Its Children's Clothes Gender-Neutral And Some People Are Taking It Badly

The retailer, which has said it does not wish to "reinforce" gender stereotyping, has been praised by campaigners – but some people are incensed.

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In 2016 John Lewis became the first major UK retailer to ditch gender-specific labelling on its clothing range for boys and girls.

John Lewis

That meant all the clothes were labelled "for boys and girls" or "for girls and boys", and the retailer removed gender-specific signs from its children's departments in stores.

John Lewis

Campaigners have long been calling for brands to end stereotyping: Clarks faced a backlash last month after one parent complained shoes aimed at girls were not as sturdy as those aimed at boys. Gap was also criticised after marketing material for one of its T-shirt ranges called girls "social butterflies" and boys "little scholars".

But this weekend the Daily Mail noticed the change.

And since then some people have lost their shit over the move, accusing the retailer of "pandering to the PC brigade".

BOYCOTT JOHN LEWIS FOR TURNING BOYS INTO GIRLS. IT'S NO WONDER WE'RE BEING INVADED. VERY SOON OUR SOLDIERS WILL BE FIGHTING WITH HANDBAGS

@johnlewisretail Shame on you John Lewis for bowing down to Political Correctness over a childs sex, there are only two MALE OR FEMALE.

@laura_ham28 @JiveNottingham I think sane people should boycott John Lewis, pandering to the loony minority

@Havesomegrace_ @staffandscrip I'm going to boycott John Lewis all round. I'm just not going to give a penny to com… https://t.co/aTdUQh2QhG

Others, however, have leapt to the retailer's defence, describing the initiative as a victory for "common sense".

when you hate the lefty pc brigade getting offended at everything but hear john lewis are removing gendered labels… https://t.co/cQJTc39Jfm

John Lewis are removing gendered labels from clothing? Shocking. This country needs a return to Victorian values.

"the left are too sensitive and are offended by everything" *John Lewis puts dinosaurs on a dress* "THIS PC BULLSHIT IS RUINING OUR COUNTRY"

ADULTS TODAY: It's political correctness gone mad! Boycott #johnlewis! It's disgusting! Stop sexualising our childr… https://t.co/hkAJSl6q2E

John Lewis put dinosaurs on a dress and people are so mad that they're calling it child abuse. Imagine being that insecure about your gender

People want to boycott John Lewis because of their unisex clothes ?? Like sorry your little girl might want to wear a dinosaur top ??

Let Clothes Be Clothes, a group that campaigns for gender-neutral clothing, praised John Lewis.

To us, this is a simple, common sense move, helping parents & children to freely pick the clothes they like best: https://t.co/uxDAbRawYx

Francesca Mallen of the campaign group said: "When you see science and engineering are pitched at boys and looks and being beautiful being pitched at girls there's something really wrong there. They are messages that retailers shouldn't be pushing on our children."

In a statement, a spokesperson for John Lewis said the company was surprised by the sudden furore over its labels.

“We’re surprised by the reaction these changes have received this weekend because they were introduced over a year ago," the statement said.

“We want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers so that parents or children can choose what they would like to wear.”

But as with all John Lewis controversies, the person who deserves most sympathy is the real John Lewis, of Blacksburg, Virginia, who has once again found himself on the receiving end of tweets from people furious with the retailer.


Contact Sara Spary at sara.spary@buzzfeed.com.

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