With September approaching, parents are stocking up in preparation for their children to go back to school. New stationary, new school bags, plus new uniforms and shoes to keep up with growth spurts over the summer. For most, Clarks is a go-to for new footwear for their kids to last throughout the school year. This summer, the brand has come under fire for its back-to-school shoe ranges for boys and girls, and has been criticised for perpetuating everyday sexism.
The girls style had heart insoles and outer heart details whilst the boys had insoles and outer panels decorated with footballs. The design wasn't the biggest problem for most, with the ranges being named Dolly Babe and Leader respectively.
When confronted via customer feedback from outraged customers who demanded that the girls range undermined their importance and encouraged gender inequality, Clarks removed the “old and discontinued” Dolly Babe shoe from their website. The shoe is still available from retailers such as Amazon and John Lewis.
This comes shortly after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) changed rules around gender stereotyping in branding, marketing and advertising.
They quickly released a statement: 'We are working hard to ensure our ranges reflect our gender-neutral ethos. We apologise for any unintended offence caused.'
This isn't the first time that Clarks has been attacked for promoting inequality across their boys and girls ranges, with customers claiming that styles designed for boys are produced with more comfort, quality and stability than those designed for young girls.
Clarks has been a British go-to for young children's shoes for decades, so it's disappointing to see them lagging behind when it comes to reinforcing stereotypes and gender roles. As much as children don't take too much notice of names and product information, the fact that a company is directing such named products towards such young ages is appalling. Here's hoping that the uproar from this will see the brand head back to the drawing board and focus on a collection that provides equal comfort, style and enthusiasm for both boys and girls.