John Lewis is the first retailer in Britain to remove gender labels from children's clothes, replacing them with gender-neutral alternatives, describing items as being for 'Boys and Girls' or 'Girls and Boys'.

Although the style of clothing hasn't changed, the retailer is proving a point by using labels to suggest the same children's clothes can be worn by boys and girls. For now, school uniforms are not part of the change, although John Lewis is expected to label these as gender-neutral in the near future.

A new unisex range of clothes, labelled as being for both genders, includes items featuring images typically associated with boys' clothing, like toy soldiers and dinosaurs.

Caroline Bettis, head of childrenswear at John Lewis, said: "We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear."

The change in labels will also see children's clothes become mixed on the shop floor, doing away with individual sections dedicated to boys and girls. John Lewis' website still separates children's garments by gender, but this is currently under review and will likely fall in line with the new in-store policy soon.

Retailers have come under fire for differences in the way boys' and girls' clothes are designed and marketed. Clarks recently withdrew a range of shoes where the girls' version was called Dolly Babe and the boys' was called Leader.

Clothing at Gap was also criticised, for referring to girls as "social butterflies" and boys as "little scholars".

But John Lewis' move to counter this has been met with criticism from some. Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the Independent: "I have no idea what would possess John Lewis to do this. Boys and girls labels and signs are informative. I think removing them could be very confusing for the consumer.

"It appears political correctness continues to march and, whether it is going in the right direction, is a point for debate. I cannot see many customers buying a dress for their six-year-old boy."