Boden sparks UPROAR over gender stereotyping on children’s clothes

Boden is forced to apologise for ‘terrible’ gender stereotyping in an ad that claimed boys need clothes for adventures and cycling – while girls just want flowers

  • Sam Williams, 38, from London  was unhappy with description in catalogue
  • Campaign for Mini Boden associated flowers with girls and bikes with boys 
  • The fashion label loved by middle class apologised for ‘blotting the copybook’

Fashion brand Boden has been forced to apologise after a ‘sexist’ ad in a catalogue for its children’s range sparked outrage among customers, which comes less than one month after they released a range of slogan t-shirts calling boys ‘genius’ while telling girls it’s ‘cool to be kind’.

Father-of-two, Sam Williams, 38, from London was horrified by the Mini Boden ad which claimed that boys want sturdy clothes for adventure, while girls are only interested in being pretty and posted it to Instagram where it attracted a slew of negative comments from other shoppers.  

Beside an image of a young girl in the brochure, it read: ‘Girls, new clothes are in sight. Fill your pockets (and wardrobe) with flowers and race this way.’

A separate quote in the booklet from the middle class favourite read: ‘Boys, start every adventure with a bike (or a pair of very fast legs), fellow mischief-makers, clothes that can keep up.’ 

Boden has now publicly apologised, tweeting: ‘We’re so sorry for blotting our copybook in such style. Whilst it wasn’t our intention to ever stereotype the roles of boys and girls, we probably over-egged things a little here.

Father of two, Sam Williams from London has hit out at middle class favourite Mini Boden for describing girls as liking flowers and boys wanting adventure in its catalogue 

In the Mini Boden catalogue the brand included two slogans, which upset a whole host of customers 

‘At Boden, we are totally committed to gender equality, and firmly believe in equal roles roles and opportunities for boys and girls – in fact, we have a male founder and a female CEO.

‘We really appreciate you bringing this to our attention, and will ensure that such a mishap doesn’t happen again. Please accept our sincere apologies. And we will ask Don Draper to stop writing our copy.’

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Sam – who has a daughter Ivy, five, and seven-year-old son, Theo, who have previously worn Mini Boden – took to Twitter and Instagram to share his shock at the finding. 

Alongside a picture of both pages, he tweeted: ‘Seriously @Bodenclothing? Keep up.’

Sam Williams shared the images of the slogans in the brochure on social media, and the post has attracted a lot of attention with more than 2,400 likes and hundreds of retweets

Sam went on to vent his upset over the imagery, as he told Boden its campaign was not encouraging youngsters to ‘grow’ and ‘explore’ their own identities

Sam went on to air his disappointment over the marketing campaign, as he said such comments can have a ‘huge influence’ on a child. 

He continued: ‘How we design and market children’s clothes, play, TV, and everything else can have a huge influence on how children perceive themselves and their aspirations in life. Children need to be allowed to grow, explore and form their own identities, to be comfortable with who they are.

‘Dividing things up as either for boys or girls is very limiting, and sometimes damaging. There are boys who want to stuff their pockets with flowers, and girls who want to go on adventures, they shouldn’t be made to feel wrong or strange.’

Other Boden customers were horrified by the slogan in the catalogue, which also features campaign imagery of their upcoming garments and releases 

One social media user commented on Sam’s tweet urging the fashion house not to ‘hinder’ children with their sexist remarks 

Another Twitter user, and Boden consumer, urged the label to change the phrasing in the brochure and act on the public’s cry for change

Other social media users also noted the gender stereotype associating young boys with bad behaviour is unaccepptable for them to promote

The parent has urged ‘lazy attitudes and dated stereotypes’ to be challenged. 

He concluded: ‘We must challenge lazy attitudes and dated stereotypes. Is one of the more progressive and it’s good to see the fault is acknowledged, but we’ll wait to see the next catalogue and the next… Let’s keep things moving forwards!’

 Sam’s post attracted a lot of attention, and has gone viral with almost 2,500 likes, 605 retweets and a whole host of comments in support of his view.

A fellow social media user commented: ‘@Bodenclothing how antiquated and ridiculous! I’m surprised you haven’t taken the time to respond to all the negative feedback about this, but hope that you are at least aware how counterproductive that sort of advertising is going to be #genderequity #prejudice #boden.’

Another fumed: ‘Are you for real?’, while a separate tweeted: ‘It’s bad for boys too. Boys can love flowers just as girls can love adventure. No more toxic masculinity.’

Following Sam’s post Boden reached out on Twitter to issue a string of apologies for their ‘blotting’ in the copybook. They went on to insist their campaign phrasing was never intended to be sexist 

Boden has insisted they are ‘committed to gender equality’, as they have both male and female colleagues in a senior role within the company 

The label have promised the public there will be no future mishaps, before they went on to joke the fictional character Don Draper, in the American drama series Mad Men, will no longer write their copy

A fourth urged Boden to change the campaign, they tweeted: ‘@Bodenclothing we love you, but this isn’t good enough for the wee ones. Language matters, it can limit or set us free. You’re choice limits girls and boys in to stereotypes of naughty and nice, can you fix it?’ 

Just last month Boden was criticised for reinforcing gender sterotypes, with Girls’ garments featuring motifs like rainbows and hearts accompanied by slogans like ‘choose happy’, while boys’ t-shirts and jumpers are printed with dinosaurs, cars and words like ‘genius’.

Other items in the range included a boys’ t-shirt with boxing gloves and the word ‘champ’ emblazoned underneath and ‘genius’, while young females were told to ‘smile’. 

The release saw parents slam the label as ‘narrow minded’, while another branded it as ‘pretty hideous messaging.’

Kate O’Sullivan, 37, of Edinburgh, vented on Twitter at the time: ‘Ew @bodenclothing your latest kids range has some pretty hideous messaging around gender. Boys get “warrior knees” and to be a “genius” while girls have to be nurturing and “Choose Happy”.’ 



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