Department of WIN: Polarn O. Pyret

What a slogan!

Not for girls.

Not for boys.

We make clothes for children.

I love this slogan. It sums up everything I want in a clothing store for my child. We gender children’s clothing way before there is much in the way of difference between body shapes, to the extent that even clothing that we might describe as “neutral” (no bows and ribbons; no skulls and crossbones) is gendered by the colour it is (olive green for boys, pale yellow for girls, for example; even blue clothing, for example, has a “girl” shade and a “boy” shade), and vice versa (and orange top, for example, will be marked as “girl” or “boy” by either a subtle puffing up of the sleeves or a small car motif, for example). And it will be gendered, in most shops, by actually putting clothes in different aisles according to gender. (In my local Asda, for example, “boy” and “girl” clothes are even separated by the service counter!) And I’m sick of it and have been sick of it for a long time. (Also, lest we forget, “boy” and “girl” are not the only two genders in the world; we also don’t know for certain that our female assigned child is a girl, and our male assigned child is a boy, until they tell us, which relies on them having the words and us listening. So talking about “children” makes much more sense!)

So in terms of slogan and the idea behind it, Polarn O. Pyret gets my vote. Also in terms of placement within online store; clothes are sorted by type (trouser, dress, top, etc) rather than by gender. This is exactly how I want to search for clothes for my child; does he need a new pair of trousers? Let’s look at trousers then; rather than having to sort by boy or by girl, I can get the full range and choose for myself.

The clothes also look to be of a good quality; outdoorsy, rough and tumble clothes rather than decorative (actually, I don’t have a problem with decorative, and most children enjoy self-adornment; it’s when it’s limited to one gender that I’ve a problem).

The only drawback? The price. And here’s the thing; once again, being able to afford to support a shop with such important ideals, being able to dress your child in good quality, ethically sourced clothing, is very much the privilege of those with a certain amount of money. For example, should I want to buy my child a pair of trousers, I’m looking at over thirty quid. I couldn’t even justify spending thirty quid on a pair of kecks for myself, let alone a child that’s going to grow out of them in about a year’s time.

I do understand why places like this are expensive; it’s not cheap to be ethical, it’s not cheap to care about who makes the clothes you sell and it isn’t cheap to care about where the material in your clothes comes from. I get that; I’m glad they exist even though they’re way out of my price range. I hope parents (and anyone who buys clothes for children) with money will support this store as much as possible.

What doesn’t cost a company money, however, is having a unisex slogan like Polarn O. Pyret; it also doesn’t cost money to sort clothes by size and type rather than by gender. I hope the kind of companies I can afford to shop at follow suit. I might even add one or two bought pieces to my child’s lovely pre-loved hand-me-down collection then!

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