Catherine de Bleeker, Oxybul manager, and Anne Fauveau, product manager, give us an insight on where the brand stands.
“Oxybul creates its toy collection by selecting and designing toys that will develop children’s skills and provide the best conditions for their learning and enjoyment. The aim is to make children active participants in their own self-discovery so that they develop critical awareness and independent thought and action. Therefore we try hard to find toys that don’t pigeonhole or stereotype children, especially in terms of gender.
Gender-specific toys can convey implicit messages about the types of games and activities children should enjoy based on their gender. These stereotypes can be reinforced by the colour of the product (blue or pink), the layout of the store, graphics or the images in a catalogue. Girls are often guided towards dolls or taking care of the home and their appearance, while boys are encouraged to be more energetic by playing with action toys and indulging in adventurous or competitive play.
At Oxybul we choose not to make gender the focus of our toys. This has been our philosophy since the brand was founded 28 years ago. When we design a product, children’s talents are our starting point, and talent has no gender!
When designing our stores, presenting our products on the website and training our sales assistants, we make sure we steer parents in the right direction by asking ‘What skill will this toy help my child learn? Is it age-appropriate? Will the fun aspects of the toy be appealing enough?’ Our goal is to immerse children in the pleasure of play so their talents develop naturally.
We are working every day to grow our product lines and offer more realistic options (ovens aren’t pink so why should play ovens be?), unisex colours and gender-neutral images like a little boy with a pushchair, a little girl in boxing gloves or a boy and a girl dressed up as doctors.
But we do realize that at some point children may wish to include gender-specific products in their creative play. Fancy dress is one example. So Oxybul does have ballerina and princess costumes for girls and knight and fireman costumes for boys. There’s also a girl’s version of our pirate and superhero costumes, so there’s something for everyone.
Even a warrior princess isn’t out of the question! By the same token, you can search for products on the website filtered by gender in all of our product categories, including construction, DIY, arts & crafts and plush toys.
And we continue to sell gender-specific products from other national brands if they are in line with our values.
We want to help parents have a more open approach so that they feel happy about encouraging girls to take part in physical activities and scientific games, or explaining to boys that they can play with dolls if they want to, or suggesting activities for both sexes. We are convinced that this is the way to get children to open up, discover new things and find out who they really are – in short, to flourish!”