Shops urged to act over sexualised clothing
Retailers are being urged to sign up to an agreement to prevent the sale of sexualised clothing to children.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is launching the guidelines for stores following an outcry over products for children which have included lace lingerie and push-up bras.
The new code coincides with the publication of a report from an independent review, commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron, into the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood.
Nine stores - Asda, Debenhams, Argos, John Lewis, Next, Marks & Spencer, Peacocks, Sainsbury's and Tesco - have now signed up to BRC's Childrenswear Guidelines, with others being urged to participate.
The guidelines advise retailers that "fabrics and cut should provide for modesty" and "slogans and imagery must be age appropriate and without undesirable associations or connotations".
They also advise that skirt length and neckline "need careful consideration" and underwear ranges need "the utmost care in design".
Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet, the web-based forum which was consulted on the guidelines, said: "After growing concern from Mumsnetters we launched our 'Let Girls be Girls' campaign to ask retailers to commit not to sell products which play upon, emphasise or exploit children's sexuality. We're delighted that so many retailers joined our campaign and that we've seen some real change on the high street.
"And now it's great that the industry as a whole, through the British Retail Consortium, has recognised its responsibility and drafted its own guidelines to encourage more responsibility up and down the high street."
Children's minister Sarah Teather said: "I hope that all the BRC members who operate in the children's market will adopt these guidelines for their business and that non-members will see the benefits of this kind of approach, too.
"These guidelines are an example of how businesses have listened to the concerns of their customers and found solutions that are sensible, appropriate and proportionate, and that they are more than capable of playing their part in building the family-friendly society we all want to see."
BRC director of public affairs Jane Bevis said: "These new guidelines provide extra reassurance for parents that these companies are just as concerned as they are about what their children wear."
The high street stores and supermarkets said they "take our responsibilities seriously".
In April last year an outcry over the sale of sexualised children's clothes prompted several high street stores to pledge a review of their product lines.
The PM branded the sale of a padded bikini top for girls "disgraceful". He commissioned Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Mothers' Union, to look into the pressures on children to grow up too quickly.The independent report is expected to demand an age-rating system similar to that used for films.
Fabrics and cuts should provide for modesty. Slogans and imagery must be age appropriate and without undesirable associations or connections, suggestive, demeaning, derogative or political material. The length of skirts and neck-lines need to be considered, taking into account the intended age group. Knickers and pants must provide for modesty. Thongs are not appropriate. Footwear must provide a stable supporting shoe with a heel of not more than 2.5cm particularly for younger children.
SIZING AND LABELLING
It is appropriate to label knickers, crops tops and swimwear by age for under-12s. However, bras should be labelled by underbust and cup size.
To target parents not children. Photographs should feature children in natural poses in a childlike environment. Underwear should never be modelled on children in any marketing material including websites.
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