Target’s gender-neutral approach to children’s toys is seeping into other aspects of the retailer’s business. Over the weekend the big box store unveiled a new brand of kids’ home decor that comes without boy or girl designations.
Target announced Sunday that the brand, called Pillowfort, will debut at stores later this month, marking yet another step in the retailer’s move toward a more gender-neutral store format.
The line, which will replace the long-running Target house brand Circo, will still feature pinks and blues, but with more prints, patterns, and neutral motifs including trees, arrows, astronauts, and bicycles.
“It was an aisle of pink, fairy princesses, ponies and flowers,” Julie Guggemos, Target’s senior vice president of design and product development tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune of Target’s current offerings for children’s bedrooms. “And for the boys it was rockets and dinosaurs. Well, you know what? Girls like rockets and basketball. And boys like ponies. Who are we to say what a child’s individual expressing is?”
That means that Target shoppers will continue to see products with hearts and basketballs, but that they will more likely be in neutral colors such as white, black, and yellow. In all, the brand contains 12 whimsical themes, like “Tropical Treehouse,” “Stellar Station,” and “Ocean Oasis.”
Guggemos says that the company didn’t exactly set out to create a gender-neutral line. Instead, the approach was driven by consumers who previously criticized the company for using gender-based signs in the toy aisles.
“It gets back to listening to mom, understanding what she’s looking for from Target and making sure we’re delivering the products and the content that’s going to be right,” Chief Executive Brian Cornell tells the Star Tribune.
While developing the new Pillowfort line, the company asked children to create collages of their ideal bedrooms and questioned parents on what they would like to see. In the end, most chose neutral designs.
“Girls were picking prints that the boys picked and vice versa,” Guggemos said. “They’re not afraid to express who they are. We picked up on that right away and decided we were getting in our own way a little bit with some of those paradigms … It’s time to change.”
The company isn’t doing away completely with boy- and girl-specific bedding and room decorations. It plans to still offer an assortment of princesses, superheroes, as well as licensed brands like Star Wars and My Little Pony in the department.
Target plans to next tackle its children’s house brand of clothing. A new apparel line will debut this summer, replacing the Cherokee and Circo brands.
A spokesperson tells the Star Tribune that while the company isn’t going to adopt a unisex or androgynous approach to apparel, some common themes will be found in both boys’ and girls’ clothing.