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M&S gender and staff/customer confusion

(41 Posts)
DtPeabodysLoosePants Fri 14-Feb-20 21:49:13

I went to M&S today to get Dd1 PE items and bras, and dd2 socks. I got the jogging bottoms off the rail and remembered dd2 needed new PE tops too so grabbed those. One the side facing me as I approached the rail it said "Girls' Sportswear" so I figured both sides was for girls. Mum pointed out in mild horror and confusion that I'd picked up boys' jogging bottoms. I didn't see any other displays so figured they were unisex and gave her the "we don't subscribe to sexist stereotypes and gender roles" talk (again). Then I noticed the rail said "Boys' Sportswear" above where I'd got the bottoms and T-shirts.

As we were chatting one of the staff came over and asked if we needed any help (yes, please an alternative place to shop that doesn't throw women's safety out of the window) and I checked that the items were unisex.

She explained that the staff have been told that things must not be "segregated by gender" now and must be all mixed together. Staff have been covertly watching customers and have found them baffled. Her example being a mum looking for trainers for her son. She was faced with multiple rows of all sorts from the flowery to the plain black and it took her a while to locate what she wanted and was quite exasperated by this and approached staff for help. Mum braced for me launching into a feminist rant but was relieved disappointed that I didn't.

So off I went to look for the socks dd had picked out. Spotted the socks but couldn't find the pack she wanted. All the socks were not together but separately, displayed rails apart into stereotypical themes of flowers and unicorns vs football and dinosaurs 🙄 Hmm so obviously not mixing everything around, just the shoes.

I noticed that this philosophy of being gender neutral (oh how I hate that phrase) did not extend to the rest of the store. Boxer shorts and y fronts (or whatever) are on the far side of the store; bras and thongs etc. on the other. Now, surely it should just be one big section for underwear if M&S policy is not to segregate? Maybe it's early days and they are starting with the kids and are playing it safe by starting with footwear?

Oh and things are to have nice neutral yellow tags now, not blue or pink.

I'm wondering how sales would be affected if they did just lump items together by garment type? I imagine it would be a nightmare trying to find what you're looking for and trousers designed for the female body would not be right for the male and vice versa. They'd have to decide which side shirts and coats button up too.

Maybe kids stuff works because puberty has not yet struck and given different shaped hips and waists and chests etc?

I'm thinking out loud I know (it's the painkillers, sorry) but where are shops going with all this? I'm all for wear what you want (ds has long hair and likes his toe nails painted in the summer to match his sandals-he's 5) but surely there needs to be a system of some kind to allow shoppers to find what they are looking for?

Sorry for rambling blush

OP’s posts: |
OhHolyJesus Fri 14-Feb-20 22:01:28

They can jumble it up all they like, but busy people will give up and go home.

I'm all for just having clothes by age or size tbh, I shop in the girls sections for DS as well as the boys, but when you're dragging a bored child along with you, you will not stop long or ask for help you will just scarper and buy it in the supermarket when you're doing the weekly shop.

Babieseverywhere Fri 14-Feb-20 22:19:58

I would prefer children's clothes to be only divided by type tshirt, skirt, trousers etc.
As I often have to look through both 'boys' and 'girls' clothes to find items which suit my kids. It would be much easier if everything was together.

PhonicTheHedgehog Fri 14-Feb-20 22:25:35

I’d love it if they just had some stock in the shop. Twelvtyseven packs of age 1-2 knickers and nothing at all in an age 13-14.

I think M&S should alphabetise its children’s section.

Ankle socks/big knickers/blue bras/creased t shirts/dark blue PE shorts.

Echobelly Fri 14-Feb-20 22:28:58

I'm happy to shop for kids clothes by type.

I'm delighted that Clarks (near me at least) has stopped labelling the shoes, especially good for my daughter who tends to prefer more 'boy' (aka actually practical, warm and waterproof angry ) shoes and I was really pleased that the last two pairs we got from Clarks are really not obviously one or the other (other than being actually practical, warm and waterproof).

jakeyboy1 Fri 14-Feb-20 22:36:54

The M&S by me has two stores. Separate males and females ones. For 25 years the kids clothes were in the women's. They have now moved them into the men's which means I shop there 90% less because I can't be arsed to go to the men's store.
I went there today however because DD wanted something specific. Problem here was - no labels at all so I had to traipse around looking for everything which took longer than it should. Time I didn't have. Think I'll stick to online next time. No wonder they are struggling.

Languishingfemale Fri 14-Feb-20 23:54:11

Must admit, in all the years of reading customer criticism / comments about M & S - from criticisms about clothing to their current obsession with placing men in lingerie changing rooms, I've never heard anyone demanding that boys and girls clothing are clumped together. Presumably this is yet another Stonewall demand?
A busy parent will just walk away and shop elsewhere.

Ariela Sat 15-Feb-20 00:25:44

My Dd just headed for the boys clothes anyway. Far nicer choice of colours. So probably a good idea to lump it all together by age, her best friend always went for the pink.

ValancyRedfern Sat 15-Feb-20 00:30:22

I think mixing up 'boys' and 'girls' clothes is a good thing. If I want a t-shirt for DD I'd rather go to one t-shirt section than two. It's quicker and not confusing at all. It also means DD doesn't feel anxious about preferring the 'boys' clothes (because they're the ones with dinosaurs on). Adult males and females are different shapes so need different sections, children don't.

WingingWonder Sat 15-Feb-20 00:35:45

I don’t like that we are doing away with gender,
I have no issue with inclusivity but there are some forms which only fit well forms, so fine for t shirts etc to be unisex but for underwear and denim shape shartsvto vary as soon as girls hit puberty

RainbowMum11 Sat 15-Feb-20 01:03:16

For kids stuff, gender/sex really doesn't matter -!it is the style or type of clothes you look at - pjs, school wear, or whatever.

Adults generally different body shapes .

Gingerkittykat Sat 15-Feb-20 01:22:02

Why are people getting upset about this?

Surely breaking down gender stereotypes is a good thing.

How many times do you read that people 'knew' their son was really a girl because he liked pink or that a girl felt less because she liked trousers and football.

Pre-teen clothes and shoes don't need to be separated by sex.

Adult male and female clothes and underwear is sold by sex since we have different body shapes.

Goosefoot Sat 15-Feb-20 02:51:45

How many times do you read that people 'knew' their son was really a girl because he liked pink or that a girl felt less because she liked trousers and football.

That seems logical, but I don't think it actually works that way. All this has come up at a time when many people, especially woke types, are also very into gender neutral clothing. In many cases they belong to the same group, weird as that sounds.

I think the reason is that these people tell themselves that sex differences are irrelevant and so cannot justify different customs around male and female clothing. That's bad sex stereotyping. But a good reason to differentiate is inner essence, expressing your authentic self - that's real and important, your inner essence as it were. So once a child can express that as a parent of course you need to validate it.

FordPrefect42 Sat 15-Feb-20 03:23:28

I thought boys and girls did have different body shapes though? Obviously boys have penises so need larger trousers to accommodate for that, girls’ t-shirts are cut differently, and boys’ and girls’ feet develop differently too?

So there is a need to segregate clothes by gender - personally I think if they were categorised by age/type parents would be spending ages trying to find something appropriate for their children!

Also, I’m not sure gender neutral clothes are in any way becoming a social norm - I rarely if ever see boys in girls’ clothes, occasionally will see a girl in a boys’ Minecraft/Pokémon t-shirt but with leggings. I honestly don’t think there’s a market for them at the moment nor will there be one.

FordPrefect42 Sat 15-Feb-20 03:25:28

Seems to be more of a thing on Twitter, where lefty “woke” parents are trying to push their views on their children and raise them as genderless/non binary, that’s the impression I’m getting

Bezalelle Sat 15-Feb-20 05:32:10

Apart from underwear with different dimensions for different anatomies, what makes "girl" clothes and "boy" clothes. Stereotypes. Isn't that what we're fighting against?

KimikosDreamHouse Sat 15-Feb-20 05:36:44


Why are people getting upset about this?

I'm very puzzled by this thread. The usual position on FWR is that any shop which has racks of girls' clothes and boys' clothes is promoting the terrible idea that there are "girls' clothes" and "boys' clothes" as opposed to just clothes any child might like.

Toomanygerbils Sat 15-Feb-20 05:37:38

I don’t see any issue here OP, can you explain why this bothers you???

VashtaNerada Sat 15-Feb-20 06:10:27

For children it makes much more sense to sell by clothing type as opposed to the merchandising team’s sexist assumptions about what girls or boys should wear. When I shop for DC I often find I have to walk around the store in order to look at both ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ things which is really annoying. DS will happily wear a t-shirt with animals on it from the ‘girl’ section and DD has plenty of ‘boy’ jeans and jumpers. And of course plain jogging bottoms are for both boys and girls! I can’t understand why you care whether someone in M&S head office wanted to market them for boys or girls, surely you just look at the item to see if it’s appropriate for your child.

VashtaNerada Sat 15-Feb-20 06:12:24

I thought boys and girls did have different body shapes though? Not until puberty, no.

ValancyRedfern Sat 15-Feb-20 07:27:07

I'm puzzled by this thread to. Pre-puberty children's bodies are the same shape. I would love all children's clothes to be arranged by type and not sex. I hate that DD worries that wanting dinosaur t-shirts is abnormal for a girl.

KimikosDreamHouse Sat 15-Feb-20 08:20:52

I don’t see any issue here OP, can you explain why this bothers you???

I must admit I could not see what the point of the OP was.

Polynerd Sat 15-Feb-20 08:28:47

Noticed this when I bought DD (8) some pjs recently. There were no boys and girls sections. I was quite please because I got her space-themed ones without them being marked 'boys'. Obviously this can only happen up to the point where shape starts to change.
I think the most important thing is that hopefully this will stop the trend of boys having big roomy tshirts while girls have close-fitting ones. The fact that little girls have to display their body shape while boys don't has always annoyed me.

TimeLady Sat 15-Feb-20 08:43:55

If M&S had had the foresight to change the signage to Children's Sportswear, rather than leaving the signage gender specific, I can't see why there would have been a problem. Poor management decision, I'm afraid.

However, there is the issue with buttons fastening on opposite sides. That remains a way of differentiating between masculine and feminine-gendered clothing that kids could pick up on (and lead to teasing) when they come to realise it still exists.

FemiLANGul Sat 15-Feb-20 08:44:28

There is absolutely no need to segregate childrens clothing, imo. Until around 10/11 body shapes are the same so dont require different cuts.

This is not about making childrens clothes 'gender neutral'. You can still have glittery, frilly stuff as well as trucks and dinosaurs and just use your own judgement as to whether you buy it for your child.

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