We interviewed Tootsa MacGinty, a gender neutral clothing line that is taking the world by storm! You will fall in love with them as much as we did!
How did you create Tootsa MacGinty?
I launched Tootsa MacGinty in 2011 after spending more than a decade working as a designer for brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Roxy. I was inspired to create the brand after shopping for clothes for my baby daughter in the UK. I had recently moved back to London to be closer to family after living overseas. Almost everything I saw on the UK high street was so heavily gendered; frilly, pink princess outfits that my daughter couldn’t comfortably play in and sludgy coloured clothing with aggressive animals on in the boys aisles. And in seeking out to create an alternative, the idea for a unisex children’s clothing brand (Tootsa MacGinty) was born.
Why did you choose a gender neutral clothing line?
I wanted to provide clothing for boys and girls that wasn’t strictly gendered; to make clothes that didn’t limit our children to stereotypes and the so-called gender norms. Seeing phrases like “Here Comes Trouble” on boy’s T-shirts whilst the girls are in pink and labelled “Princess” seemed like society was taking a step backwards where our future generations were concerned. Being a new parent myself I found it all very worrying.
Also present on the market were lots of paired down, miniature adult fashions for babies and young children. I simply wanted to design outfits for children to be children in—meaning clothes that wouldn’t restrict movement and would be age appropriate!
Why do you think gender stereotypes are still so prevalent?
In brief, gendered aisles are a marketing construct and it all boils down to money and consumerism. Companies offering separate girls’ and boys’ toys and clothing could potentially make twice the money from one consumer.
If it becomes unthinkable for our children to share the same clothing, toys and even interests and colours then the stores are able to shift twice as many units!
Tell us about how you choose all of these great prints and styles.
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places—music, art, fashion, film and also, of course from my daughter and her friends. I have to reign in all my ideas by working to a theme, usually by choosing a country or an area of the world and a culture that interests me, using the animals, flora and fauna, colours and patterns and traditional techniques from that region to create the basis of the collection. I always include bright colours that look great on kids and pre-washed natural fibres that wash and wear well and are gentle on children’s sensitive skin.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start their own business?
The most important advice I’ve received (and definitely put to use) is that we can’t be afraid to make mistakes. They’re just part of the learning process, especially when starting your own business. Being too cautious can impact the development of an idea that could become something truly great—sometimes it can feel like two steps forward and one step back…. but that’s OK. After all we learn from mistakes and it’s unrealistic to think a business could grow without one of two (or more!) of them!
Not only are your pieces very stylish but they also are durable for children. Why is comfort and movement as important as style for children’s clothing?
Durability is perhaps even more important than style because it lets children be children! Kids shouldn’t have to worry about their clothes tearing or coming apart when they’re playing, and the same goes for parents.
Kids’ clothing should be built to last, be worn a lot, washed a lot and then handed down to a younger sibling or friend. It makes economical sense when buying clothing to buy something that is designed and manufactured with quality.
Where do you see Tootsa MacGinty in five years?
Ultimately I just hope we’ve helped galvanise a trend for more gender neutrality in products for children! We’d like to become more global! After taking a strong foothold in our home (the UK), Germany, France, Scandinavia and Asia are all expressing a lot of interest in the brand, it’s very exciting.
My dream is to open a “Shop-fice”—a beautiful, unisex, flagship store with our open-plan office as part of an integral part of the store with a collection that expands into more accessories, homeware, baby wear and be a one stop shop for your children’s wardrobe essentials.