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Lands' End isn't generally considered the most progressive of retailers, but it's clearly trying to change its image, taking the opportunity to update its merchandise when one presented itself this past July. After New Jersey mom Lisa Ryder noticed a drastic difference between girls' and boys' t-shirt styles in the retailer's catalog—one celebrated science and space, while the other celebrated the color pink—she took to its Facebook page with a lengthy and caustic note, which reads:
Dear Lands' End,
My nine year old daughter loves science; She especially enjoys learning about ocean life and outer space. She has read more books on sharks than I ever knew existed, follows NASA news, and hopes to be an astronaut one day.
So you can imagine her reaction when she saw your company's science-themed t-shirt designs for boys featured on page 26 of your latest catalog. The boys' options include realistic images of planets and our solar system, labeled diagrams of sharks and dinosaurs, and a "NASA Crew" tee design that she immediately declared to be "the coolest shirt ever."
We immediately flipped forward in your catalog to find the equivalent shirts in girls' sizes. But when we got to the available t-shirt designs for girls on page 56, instead of science-themed art, we were treated to sparkly tees with rhinestones, non-realistic looking stars, and a design featuring a dog dressed like a princess and wearing a tutu.
My daughter was very confused. Lots of her friends that are girls love science, too. Why were there no cool science shirts for girls?
So, Lands' End corporate, how should I respond to my daughter's question? In 2014, why are you selling "mighty" tees for boys and "adorable" tees for girls? (Descriptions taken straight from your marketing copy.)
My daughter is mighty and she loves science. And until you recognize that it's not only boys that can fit that description, I'm afraid our family will no longer be shopping in your stores.
After the letter made the rounds on Facebook, Lands' End responded with a handful of new styles and message on their own Facebook page: "You asked, we listened—take a look at our brand-new girls' science tees. Our first two tees are live on the site—pre-order now to reserve her size (due to the quick turnaround, the shirts will ship in August). Based on your response to the tees, we will continue to add new styles moving forward."
As pictured below, the marketing copy on the banners of page for girls' graphic tees and tops still reads "Cute to a Tee" and "Color Her Pretty," and the majority of tees are still classically "girly," but at least purchasing power has been made possible at this aging retailer.
· Lands' End Announces Science-Themed Tees For Girls After Mom's Letter Goes Viral [Huffington Post]