Today’s post is semi-old news but the message is the same: if you want gender-fair options, ask for them. That’s exactly what one mom did with Lands’ End when she noted the t-shirt options for boys and girls were highly gendered. Lands’ End actually responded by expanding their offerings!
This mom noted that Lands’ End only sold science t-shirts in the boys section. When she looked to find them in girls’ sizes, she found the girls’ t-shirts were highly gendered and did not include science shirts. She wrote a passionate letter to Lands’ End about this problem:
Dear Lands’ End,
My nine year old daughter loves science; She especially enjoys learning about ocean life and outer space. She has read more books on sharks than I ever knew existed, follows NASA news, and hopes to be an astronaut one day.
So you can imagine her reaction when she saw your company’s science-themed t-shirt designs for boys featured on page 26 of your latest catalog. The boys’ options include realistic images of planets and our solar system, labeled diagrams of sharks and dinosaurs, and a “NASA Crew” tee design that she immediately declared to be “the coolest shirt ever.”
We immediately flipped forward in your catalog to find the equivalent shirts in girls’ sizes. But when we got to the available t-shirt designs for girls on page 56, instead of science-themed art, we were treated to sparkly tees with rhinestones, non-realistic looking stars, and a design featuring a dog dressed like a princess and wearing a tutu.
My daughter was very confused. Lots of her friends that are girls love science, too. Why were there no cool science shirts for girls?
So, Lands’ End corporate, how should I respond to my daughter’s question? In 2014, why are you selling “mighty” tees for boys and “adorable” tees for girls? (Descriptions taken straight from your marketing copy.)
My daughter is mighty and she loves science. And until you recognize that it’s not only boys that can fit that description, I’m afraid our family will no longer be shopping in your stores.
Note how polite her letter is. This is about finding more choices for her daughter. It suggests Lands’ End could actually be making more money by selling the science t-shirts in girls’ sizes: “Lots of her friends that are girls love science, too. Why were there no cool science shirts for girls?” That is exactly the kind of reasoning that garnered her this response, on Lands’ End’s Facebook page:
You asked, we listened — take a look at our brand-new girls’ science tees. Our first two tees are live on the site — pre-order now to reserve her size (due to the quick turnaround, the shirts will ship in August).
Based on your response to the tees, we will continue to add new styles moving forward.
Lands’ End has said outright that they will make and sell what their customers want. As the consumer, you hold a lot of power with your choice to purchase (or not) various items. I will grant that not every company is going to care what you think. They are also pretty unlikely to remove gendered options unless they are openly offensive. But, be clear about what you want, what the company could gain (money), and be persistent.
Girls Will Be rounds up gender-fair clothing on their blog (and sells their own line). They are a great option for one-stop clothing shopping. We reviewed them when they first launched, and again when they launched their line of shorts. They’re a small company that tries very hard to respond to what their customers want and to what is lacking in the gender-fair clothing world.