02 July 2012

Fitzgerald Calls on Local Clothing Stores to Sign up to New Childrenswear Guidelines

Local T.D., Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD, has launched new Retail Ireland Childrenswear Guidelines which she states will help “protect childhood space.”

“Irish childhood has changed dramatically in recent years; and it continues to change. As a society, we have a responsibility to make sure that those changes are positive for our children. Some things are not the same for adults and children. Never have been, never will be. This includes clothes with suggestive slogans, overtly sexual cuts and styles and unreal or unbalanced portrayals of an 'ideal' body-image,” said Frances Fitzgerald.
“That is why earlier this year, as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I invited the Irish fashion retail sector to develop a set of guidelines on the retailing of childrenswear to help children, and their parents, preserve the special space that is childhood, in its age appropriateness, its normality and its innocence. In conjunction with Retail Ireland, I officially launched these Guidelines last week and am now calling on local shops in Clondalkin and Lucan to sign up to this campaign,” continued Fitzgerald.

“Since taking office, I have begun implementing a whole raft of measures to enhance Ireland’s culture of child protection. An important part of that is enabling children to enjoy this wonderful period in their lives without being pressurised to grow up too soon, or to want to look grown up,” said Fitzgerald.  

“In our world of mass media and consumerism, we are all pressurised by a variety of stereotypes, gurus and role models about what we eat, how we dress and look, how we take our entertainment. Even what we should think! And these pressures are all the greater for our children because they have yet to learn so much, gather life experiences, and mature emotionally. That is why adult society must help and protect them on this vital early stage of their life’s journey. And that is where the retail sector, and clothing retailers especially, have a very important part to play. Household names including Pennys, Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Next and Tesco have shown huge leadership by pledging to abide by these new guidelines and I am calling on stores in Clondalkin and Lucan and Liffey Valley to sign up to this voluntary code,” continued Fitzgerald.

The guidelines published last week by Retail Ireland cover all clothing, footwear and accessories designed and marketed for children under the age of twelve years, but do not cover teenage fashion or babywear. The guidelines also provide guidance on best practice in matters like styling, age-appropriateness, size, labelling and marketing as well as advice for parents on first bras for young girls.  The code is targeted primarily at the buyers in an effort to ensure inappropriate styles, cuts, under-wiring and heels are no longer sold for an under 12s market. The code states that slogans and imagery, including the use of licensed images and brandmarks, must be age appropriate and not “sexually suggestive, demeaning, derogative or containing political slogans or images that could be interpreted as such.”

“The practicality, that I think many parents will welcome and endorse, also extends to the issue of footwear. I commend Retail Ireland and its member companies for signing up to this code. I would also like to see all retailers throughout the country, whether members of Retail Ireland or not, adopting these guidelines. I also believe the code will play an important and constructive role in informing future decision-making by retailers. The provision of a reporting mechanism for parents to raise concerns with retailers on an ongoing basis using a dedicated website ( retail@ibec.ie) is particularly welcome,” concluded Fitzgerald.