As part of its popular Cat & Jack Line, Target will soon launch adaptive apparel with features for kids with disabilities.
On Sunday, the company will begin selling the clothing items online, which include long-sleeve tees, short-sleeve tees, bodysuits, hooded sweatshirts, puffer jackets and leggings in sizes 2T to 5T for toddlers and extra small to XXL for older kids. The features include side-entry openings, zip-off sleeves, snaps in the back of the clothing, flat seams and areas with access to the abdomen among others. Prices will range from $5.50 to $39.99. Just a couple months ago, the company released clothes for kids with sensory issues.
Julie Guggemos, Target’s senior vice president of product design and development, told HuffPost her team spent “hundreds of hours” talking to guests and team members to learn what they truly needed for their children with various disabilities and physical challenges related to Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and more. The company quickly learned the importance of the clothes not only being functional for these kids, but versatile and durable as well.
Stacey Monsen, a designer on Guggemos’ team who spearheaded the sensory friendly and adaptive apparel additions, explained that the families “really wanted features that would make getting dressed every day a lot easier.” One feature the team explored (but has not been included in the collection yet) was the removal of pockets on the denim pants to reduce pressure points and to help kids who remain seated for long periods of time. Monsen and Guggemos also made sure to keep the clothes free of tags and the fabric incredibly soft.
What stands out with these new clothing items is that the kids wearing them will do exactly the opposite: The features are virtually invisible, and most of the styles are based off of current designs in the Cat & Jack collection.
“We wanted to ensure that the children who purchase the adaptive clothing or sensory friendly clothing from Cat & Jack didn’t feel that they were standing out in any way,” Guggemos told HuffPost.
Watching this project come to fruition was especially moving for Monsen, who has an 8-year-old daughter with autism who is “emerging verbal” (says one to two words) and not potty-trained. She told HuffPost as her daughter got older, finding clothes for her that would fit her diapers became challenging. That’s why Monsen ensured the leggings and the pajama one-piece being released on Sunday were diaper friendly.
Guggemos said she was “so proud” of her team for tackling this issue and making Target’s options more inclusive. Monsen also expressed gratitude for the many parents who shared their stories with the company. She said that after the families tested the new features, it seemed like they were finally being heard.
“Everybody was really thankful and so incredibly appreciative that somebody was listening to them and creating products that would make their life easier and would have their children be confident in what they’re wearing,” she said.
Monsen noted that her experience as a mom of a child with autism has shown her how significant it is to simply have access to these clothing options.
“We just fight so hard for everything and to be able to have something that we don’t have to ask for means so much,” she said.
Target’s adaptive apparel will be sold online beginning Sunday.