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Thursday 19 October 2017

Mum's the word: Let's start seeing clothing with aliens and dinosaurs for girls

Some clothing companies have free-thinking girls at heart when it comes to design

Crowdfunding is a fascinating modern concept that's gradually won over the public's imagination while earning lots of valuable money for diverse causes and fledgling businesses.

Designed to raise funds from as wide a group as possible donations are generally solicited and offered online via dedicated crowdfunding websites.

There are many collaborative funding sites in operation, with Indiegogo, Crowdfunder, GoFundMe and Kickstarter some of the most popular ones. Crowdfunder is a platform specifically for raising investors while GoFundMe is for personal donations for causes and charities.

Indiegogo deals with everyone from creatives to inventors and charitable causes, while Kickstarter is solely for creative projects.

On GoFundMe you'll find amazing stories from communities all over the world. Here's a website packed with amazing people coping with adversities and hoping friends, family and benevolent strangers will donate even just a euro to secure life-saving medical treatment, and help families struggling with debts, victims of crime, and social injustices.

Clicking through the projects can be heart-warming or deeply saddening, as you realise how many people are going through scary and tough situations, all hoping money can help put an end to their woes, or at least ease their troubled journey.

At present there's a heart-breaking project looking to raise US$500,000 to support four tiny babies whose mother, Erica Morales, died in childbirth recently.

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The page was set up by Erica's best friend and the tragedy has captured the hearts of people worldwide. It's amazing to see that they have raised 90pc of their target in two short months.

You can't argue with the intentions of any of the projects on GoFundMe, but some of the other crowdfunding sites attract all kinds of ludicrous vanity projects.

There's naive kids hoping someone will contribute towards their backpacking adventures to broaden their minds, and hopeful kinds looking to self-publish oddities like a 'photobook of the most beautiful people in Ireland: 125 male, 125 females' (reassuringly this hasn't won any support, yet).

Some projects strike an immediate chord and win huge support, attracting far more money than their creators could ever have dreamt.

Take Rebecca Melsky and Eva St. Clair, two Washington DC mums who hope to raise US$35,000 on Kickstarter to produce Princess Awesome, a range of girls' dresses with motifs traditionally reserved for boys. Think dinosaurs, rockets, pirates and cars.

They hit their modest target within four weeks of launching their campaign, and two months on have secured over US$215,000 in donations from backers eager to break the clothing stereotyping little girls are landed with, namely that collection of floral, butterfly, unicorn and princess motifs.

Princess Awesome doesn't have a problem with pink or purple, sparkles or rainbows; they simply wish girls didn't have to be squeezed into narrow gender roles via their clothes.

"We believe that if a girl likes purple and also likes trucks, she should be able to wear a purple truck dress. And if a girl likes princesses and also aliens, then an alien princess skirt is for her" their website explains.

While I agree with their premise, I'm surprised at how excited their backers have been, raving online about what a brilliant idea this is.

Things must be very different in The States, as here, in Europe, I find it very easy to pick up non-gender specific clothes for my daughter.

Admittedly I've never seen a pirate or alien dress, but have seen one with crocodiles (by Mini Rodini, a Swedish company) and my daughter has two gorgeous car print dresses, made by Polarn O. Pyret, a Swedish company.

I admit that these are far from cheap, and would like to see the high street shops getting more inventive for girls.

At the very least the Princess Awesome designs and their creators have at least drawn attention to an irritating practice of the rag trade.

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