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22nd Oct 2020

River Island has come under fire for selling clothing that ‘should not be for children’

Trine Jensen-Burke

River Island children's clothing


As the mum of a 10-year-old, I must admit I am finding it harder these days to find clothes for her that are actually clothes I would feel happy dressing a 10-year-old in. Suddenly, it seems, all the clothes in her size (10-11) are very teenager-y – cropped tops, big slogans and often in boring colours like black or grey. I am not a fan.

Recently, River Island came under fire for an item of clothing they were selling that many parents believed should ‘not be for children’.

The issue arose when some concerned parents questioned the clothing retailer over the sale of tight leather trousers, sold in one style from 6-9 months to 4-5 years and another style from 5 years to 12 years.

According to, 60-year-old Helen Richards is reported to have been shopping with her daughter and granddaughter in Worcester, UK a few weeks ago when she spotted a pair of the leather trousers for children aged 5-12 on display.

Richards said: “Why are they sexualising children? Why do they feel the need to put leather trousers for parents to buy for their child? It’s so wrong, especially in this day and age. We shouldn’t encourage our children to dress like that. There’s more than one way to take away a child’s innocence. I am so angry.”

The grandmother continued: “I was tempted to say something to the staff but it’s not their fault. I think River Island should remove the clothing from their store immediately. I’m also worried the clothes might attract unwanted attention. Young people can’t deal with that and it can take away their childhood.”

The issue escalated when some parents went on Facebook, and accused the fashion giants of “stripping the innocence away from kids”, deeming the item of clothing as “highly inappropriate”.

Facebook user Sally Wright: “Who would want their children walking around like Kim Kardashian in leather pants? We should boycott the place until they are removed.”

One mum wrote: “Personally, I like to see children dressed like children. Pvc leggings on a little girl… a bit much.”

However, others were quick to defend River Island, saying that people need to “mind their own business”.

One person wrote: “What’s worrying is how adults are pushing their idea on everything being sexually motivated. It’s a pair of trousers, how you see them says more about you.”

Another one commented: “No need to get angry, just don’t buy them. If everyone thinks they’re tasteless and doesn’t buy them, then they’ll stop making them. I don’t particularly like them as I don’t think it’s a good look for most adults either. But I can’t make that decision for other people!

“Basically, worry about what your own children are wearing, not other people’s” she concluded.

What do you think, parents? Would you be happy to dress your five-year-old in faux leather leggings?