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Target dabbles in unisex clothes for kids

Target is dipping its toes into unisex clothing for kids.

It's new kids' apparel line, Cat & Jack, which began hitting stores this month, includes a small selection of shirts and hoodies under the label "tees for all" on Target.com. The items are availably only online and come in the basic colors of black, white and gray. The slogans on them are also pretty universal, appealing to any gender, such as "Artist," "Smart & Strong," "Rock Star," "Future President," and "Athlete."

The mini-collection was inspired by the feedback Target received from kids when developing the new line. Some expressions they bounced off of its focus groups resonated with both boys and girls.

"Throughout the development process with Cat & Jack, we've been working hand in hand with guests on the assortment," said Joshua Thomas, a Target spokesman. "As we were working with kids specifically on graphic tees, it became clear there was an assortment that appealed to boys and girls."

A recent Associated Press story chronicled the small but growing number of unisex options for parents looking for kids clothes that don't reinforce gender stereotypes. So far, most of the movement has been among new online brands popping up, but some mass retailers have been expanding its offerings too such as Zara and Lands' End. 

It's a tricky line for mass retailers trying to appeal to a wide audience. When Target took down its "boys" and "girls" signs in the toy aisles last year, the move was heralded by many, but lambasted by others.

Earlier this year, Target launched a new kids home brand called Pillowfort that while it has plenty of pinks and blues in it, also includes gender-neutral patterns and colors. Target leaders said it was in response to feedback they heard from boys and girls, who were often interested in the same themes and prints. 

As for Target's Cat & Jack kids clothing line, the vast majority of the collection is geared towards either boys or girls. But it does venture into some non-traditional gender territory by offering some motifs such as dinosaurs on girls' shirts.

While Cat & Jack has been out in stores just for a couple weeks, Thomas, the Target spokesman, said the response thus far has been "phenomenal."

Cool shirts, shoes, a sofa, sheets and now a haircut in Mpls shop

Dust never settles at Martin Patrick 3, the North Loop men's store dubbed "as good as bricks and mortar can be" by Minneapolis retail branding expert Tina Wilcox. After opening a bedding boutique with exclusive designs by Colette Jaffe last month, a men's barber shop called Marty's by Jon Charles has just been added. It takes the place of Apology, the women's gift department which has been temporarily downsized to a smaller area.

The three-chair barber shop (with barber pole) for men and boys fits like a glove inside the handsome, classically modern men's store. Only three simple services are offered--a Marty haircut (a quick, no shampoo cut) for $35, a Maxx cut with shampoo and styling for $45 and a kids cut for $25. No shaves, no waxing, no color, no nonsense. Women can get their hair cut too, said co-owner Dana Swindler if they want a more masculine cut.

""It makes sense to offer a barbershop to their clients," said Wilcox. "It's part of the total circle of guys who want to look good. A lot of Minneapolis executives shop there who are time-stretched."

North Loop continues to attract a desirable tenant mix. Besides recent additions of Grethen House, InVision Eyewear and Pacifier, The Hewing boutique hotel with 125 rooms opens at the end of October at Washington and 3rd Aves. North. Russell + Hazel stationery will open at the end of the summer.

"Martin Patrick is spectacular in a town where luxury doesn't always work," said Wilcox. "They do so many things right."