September 20, 2018 3 min read 4 Comments
What about the boys?
This is definitely the question I get asked the most: 'Lots of your designs would work on boys' t-shirts, why don't you do boys t-shirts too?'.
It's a good question, especially as I have a deliciously beautiful boy.
In truth, there are many answers, some more straight forward than others. These are all my answers, they definitely and unashamedly contradict each other:
Because I make t-shirts for girls. Lots of companies only make things for girls or for boys. Burton's is a men's clothes shop, Claire's Accessories is for little girls. We don't ask Lamborghini why they don't make tractors. To be brutally honest, I don't have much time for the whataboutists, believe it or not there are folk who choose to get offended that I don't make boys t-shirts 'boys would like these designs too' they protest. It's not logical or useful to say that because I choose to seek a particular gap in the market, that I am also responsible for all other market gaps. I don't make boys t-shirts because I make girls t-shirts, the way webuyanycar.com don't make cars because they buy used cars. That's my grumpiest answer!
Because I don't have the space. I work from home, my workroom is the size of an average bedroom. It's mostly filled with shelves and boxes full of blank girls t-shirts. To fit boys t-shirts in, I'd have to reduce the range of colours I offer girls. I'd love to, but there just isn't room. This is my most practical answer, but possibly the least true. At least, it is true, but I could probably work something out if I wanted to. This is definitely the answer I give when I'm just too tired for the debate!
Because it would reduce the value of the girls t-shirts. This is what I find hardest to explain, but I'll try! There aren't many situations where boys would be jealous of girls clothes, but I've heard it the other way around lots of times. Likewise, there aren't many situations where parents wish their son's clothes were more like their daughter's. You hear 'I wish there were more girls clothes with dinosaurs and space', but not so much (though not impossible) 'I wish there were more boys clothes with glitter and unicorns.
I chose girls' t-shirts because although boys' clothes can be super dull (more on that in a minute), girls' clothes often make them 'less than'. The difference is that boys are not disempowered by the images on their clothing, whereas I think girls are. It's not t-shirts that inspire me, it's girls' empowerment, that's where my passion lies.
I was wavering with the idea of adding boys or unisex t-shirts to my website a few months ago, when a friend changed my mind. She's an awesome customer, and comes back again and again for t-shirts for her daughter and as gifts for her daughter's friends. So, as a friend, I offered to print something for her son. She said 'no thanks, it's a nice offer, but I like that it's special for [my daughter]. If I could get them for [my son], they would be less special for her'. I knew immediately she was exactly right. So that's my most honest answer.
I do! I print t-shirts for friends' boys and for my own boy! This is my shortest answer :)
Maybe I will in the future. I do get frustrated by how boring boys clothes are. Every aisle is a sea of black, navy and grey. Every design is another tired old Star Wars design, or Jurassic Park motif. There's always the latest superhero too. Yawn. Boys are much more varied and interesting than that.
In my head I have some lovely designs for boys and parents who are at peace with every kind of masculinity, not just the traditional one: I can see a thorny vine, twisting around from the back to end in a spiny flower on the front of a deep purple t-shirt. I can see a pencil drawn unicorn, with an elf-boy riding with his hair blowing in the wind on a pale blue t-shirt. I can see a tree in sillouette with the roots underground perfectly mirrored in the bare winter branches above on a vibrant lime green t-shirt.
For now though. I want to get what I'm doing right. That's girls. There's only one me. All in good time.
Just look at those eyelashes!!!
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