X Factor auditions, the return of Strictly, John Lewis adverts dominating social media…yep, the end of the British summer is right on schedule.
Only this time, it seems we’re not cooing over Buster the Boxer, the Man on the Moon or Monty the penguin, this time, we’re worrying about labelling, and we all know that’s wrong don’t we children?
It has ’emerged,’ as the media likes to report, that the nation’s favourite retailer, bastion of battenbergs, picnic baskets, meritocracy and all things thoroughly pleasant, has OUTRAGED the nation by harmonising their new children’s range under one label – Girls AND Boys or, for the sake of parity, Boys AND Girls.
There is an equal split you’ll be relieved to read, gentle reader.
Of course it may well depend on what media you consume about whether you are outraged about this. It also depends on how many clicks and sales said media wants to generate and your knowledge of your readers’ own politics.
However, what does the retailer itself say? Well, apart from pointing out they did this last year, here’s their thinking behind the move.
Caroline Bettis, head of childrenswear at John Lewis, said in a statement on Monday:
“We introduced new non-gender specific John Lewis stitched labels and combined ‘Girls & Boys’ swing tags to clothing for John Lewis own label collections in 2016.
“We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear.”
Now, all good retailers know their customers intimately. John Lewis isn’t doing this as a publicity stunt or to APPEAR politically correct. It will be doing it because to them, it makes business sense. It may well generate a tonne of publicity, both positive and negative. It may well alienate some people, many of whom shop there now and many of whom have never shopped there BUT this will be a strategic decision based on risk v reward.
The question is, is this a risk worth taking? For my part, I’m totally neutral.