March 6, 2017 / 11:31 AM / 10 months ago

Retailer Marks & Spencer unpicks 'sexist' label directed at mothers

LONDON, March 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - British retailer Marks & Spencer apologised on Monday for a school uniform label criticised by men and women as sexist that boasted the clothing range would be “less work for mum”.

Consumers posted photos on Twitter of the labels which read: “Reinforced hems stay up for longer, so that’s less work for mum!”, with many complaining that the label reinforced gender stereotypes that only women can sew.

Marks & Spencer, which has about 1,380 stores worldwide, apologised and said the label would be changed.

“It was never our intention to offend parents. In fact, we had already changed our packaging for the new range, which will be available from May,” the retailer said in a statement.

Women’s rights group, Fawcett Society, said the implication that only mothers can sew was old-fashioned.

“We slip into these lazy stereotypes as easily as a pair of their comfy slippers. It’s 2017, time to recognise that dads can sew too,” said Chief Executive Sam Smethers in a statement.

Campaigner Matt O‘Connor from equal parenting rights campaign group Fathers 4 Justice said excluding fathers from retail branding was “unacceptable” and “casual sexism”.

"Excluding dads from signage and labelling is 'prehistoric stereotyping' and unacceptable. It sends a damaging message to men, women and children and reinforces gender stereotypes," he said in a statement. (Reporting by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian issues, conflicts, global land and property rights, modern slavery and human trafficking, women's rights, climate change and resilience. Visit to see more stories)

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