Local Moms Challenge Gender Stereotypes in Children's Clothing

Some mothers in the D.C. area are addressing a problem finding clothing their children want to wear by creating their own brands confronting gender stereotypes.

When Oakton, Virginia, mother Jaya Iyer couldn’t find clothing her then aspiring astronaut daughter wanted to wear, she felt guilty.

Then she got an idea to make clothes she says mainstream stores weren't selling.

“We think that if boys want to wear a pink astronaut T-shirt, that’s perfectly fine,” she said. “If a girl wants to wear a monster truck T-shirt, that’s perfectly fine.”

Iyer’s mission struck a nerve with friend Eva Everett, who struggled to find clothes for her sons in the bright colors and prints they loved.

“When I saw what she was doing, I absolutely knew I had to be a part of it,” she said.

In 2015 they teamed up, turned Everett’s Reston home into a warehouse and launched Svaha Apparel, named after the little girl who inspired it.


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With its science and technology themed dresses and unisex shirts, Svaha has become part of a growing trend of clothing brands confronting gender stereotypes.

The response has been overwhelming and empowering, Iyer said.

“Girls are not only about princesses and pink anymore,” she said. “I think that’s why it really resonated with parents. “

Across the Potomac River, more moms have a hand in this retail revolution.

Princess Awesome, a line of gender-defying dresses Rebecca Melsky and Eva St. Clair say fill a gap, was born in a Silver Spring, Maryland, basement.

Prince Awesome’s cars, trains, pirates and dinosaur dresses fly off the shelf. Their 2015 Kickstarter campaign raised $215,000, six times their goal.

Some mainstream retailers like Target and Mini Boden have started incorporating some gender-neutral clothing, but it's not widespread. Market research shows children’s wear at most stores and chains are still gender specific.

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