Back to school shopping is tough, but if you have a daughter who walks into the girls’ department at any department store or big box store in Austin and wants to run away at the sight of everything pink and purple and ruffled all over, what are you to do? And if you have a son that doesn’t want to wear another blue or red shirt with a truck or superhero on it, what do you do then?
Girls Will Be, the Austin-based company that launched a line of T-shirts for the non-girly girl in 2013 and has expanded to shorts that aren’t tight or Daisy Dukes, has teamed up with other like-minded clothing lines. Clothes Without Limits represents 13 clothing lines that seek to answer the question, “Yes, but what about my daughter (or son)?” when it comes to clothes.
“We all started our businesses because the clothes that we saw out there are limited, and we all started our companies because they didn’t support our children’s interests,” says Girls Will Be co-founder and Austin mom Sharon Choksi.
The Clothes Without Limits site, clotheswithoutlimits.com, lets you shop its different lines all in one place. There you’ll find items like:
Dresses with mathmatical symbols on them, $19.99 from Svaha
Dresses with skulls and crossbones, $39 from Princess Awesome
T-shirts that say “Pink” in blue writing and “Blue” in pink writing, $19.99 from Quirkie Kids
A T-shirt with a girl on a bike with wheels made of atoms riding far from the castle and the word “Discover,” $22.50 from Orange Clever
A shirt with “I Will Be Me” written in periodic table elements, $24 from Girls Will Be
Leggings with construction trucks on them, $25 from Mitz Apparel and Accessories
Shirts that read “Half of the T. rexes are Girls,” $22 from Jill and Jack Kids
Robot long-sleeved T-shirts that read “Let’s be Friends,” $21.99 from Jessy & Jack.
“Forget Princess. Call me President” T-shirts, $25 from Handsome in Pink
“Brains = Beauty” T-shirt, $24 from Clever Belle
Rocket ship dresses, $38.50 from Budding Stem
“I’m a Cat Guy” T-shirts, $26 from Free to be Kids
A pink body suit with a construction digger on it, $25.95 from Baby Blastoff
Clothes Without Limits is trying to bring awareness that “clothes are sending negative messages to our kids,” Choksi
says. Just as parents and the media got behind the idea that there is no such thing as “gender appropriate” toys, Clothes Without Limits would like to have the same conversation about clothes.
The toy discussion has seen great strides recently. Retailer Target removed its gender-specific signs in its toy departments last year, toy brands like GoldieBlox and Roominate brought new engineering toys to the market, and the public outcry over the action figure for new “Star Wars” heroine Rey not being on the shelves caused #WhereIsRey to go viral and get Rey figures into stores. The same discussion needs to be had for clothes, Choksi says.
Clothes instantly tell the world about your child, she says. If your daughter shows up on the first day of school wearing a pink shirt with a Disney princess on it, everyone will assume she’s a “girly girl,” which might not be her personality at all. It might just be what you could find in the girls’ department. But, if she shows up wearing a shirt with a dinosaur or an atom on it, everyone will know she loves science.
“How do you interact with a child? It’s based on what they are wearing,” Choksi says. “‘Look at your pretty outfit,’ that’s what they hear all the time. They don’t hear anything else. I’d love to change that message where what they love teachers and other parents recognize them for.”
Choksi does see a few small changes happening. Lands’ End offered T-shirts to promoting girls’ interest in space, and after
positive social media response, it now has at least one or two items per season promoting girls’ Science Technology Engineer and Math interests. Online retailer Mini Boden offered a girl’s swimsuit with dinosaurs on it, and after a big response, it now offers dinosaur dresses and adventure T-shirts for girls. Choksi also recently saw girls’ shorts that were longer and would work with school dress code in her local Dick’s Sporting Goods, but often girls, and women, too, still have to head to the boys’ or men’s sections to try to find longer shorts and not-as-tight T-shirts.
The fit of girls’ clothing is a big deal and a big reason why Choksi started Girls Will Be. Age-appropriate girls’ clothes is also a big deal. “Over time, people are pushing adult fashions younger and younger,” she says. Parents, though must be buying them or the big retailers wouldn’t be offering them, she says. What’s not clear is whether parents are buying these clothes because their girls want them or because they can’t find anything
else. If you don’t want that for your daughter, write to big companies and ask for something better, or support smaller companies that are offering clothes that are appropriate and fit your daughter, she says.
That’s what Clothes Without Limits and its companies are trying to do. “Send your kids a few different messages of what they can like and what is OK to like,” she says.
Find more Back to School tips at austin360.com/backtoschool.