Whether you are a shopaholic or someone who prefers never to step foot in a store, there's no denying that clothing is a necessary part of life. For most of us, fashion is also a form of self-expression. We wear what we love, what is comfortable, and what we think looks good on us. But for people who have disabilities and/or sensory issues that make certain types of clothing impossible to wear, there are fewer options available and shopping can be a frustrating experience all around. That's why we're thrilled to see Kohl's new collection of adaptive clothing in toddler through young adult sizes hit the market.
If you're not familiar with the term "adaptive clothing," it basically means clothing that has been changed in some way to make it either easier to put on (using velcro instead of buttons), explained USA Today, or free from materials that could be triggering for people with sensory issues (a tag on the back of a shirt). The key for those who wear this kind of clothing is that it still looks like what "everyone else" is wearing. For children especially, this can be so important.
Kohl's is the latest retailer (Target, Tommy Hilfiger and Zappo's also have lines) to see the importance of this type of clothing and has now added adaptive clothing collections to three of its most popular private label brands: Jumping Beans, Urban Pipeline and SO.
Kohl's says the clothing is "[d]esigned to inspire and empower people of all abilities to embrace their personal style," and to "... ensure customers can get the quality, stylish products they want at a great value with the functional benefits they need." The clothing has features such as flat seams for reduced sensory sensitivity, wider necklines to make getting shirts on and off easier, and hook and loop closures that make fastening simpler. Styles are available for toddlers, children, juniors and young men, and can be found online at Kohls.com.
In 2015, it was estimated that nearly 40 million Americans have disabilities, per the Pew Research Center, with the most common types being focused on "walking or independent living." And while it should be pretty obvious based on those statistics that adaptive clothing is something that is truly needed for a large number of people, until recently there didn't seem to be many stylish options. This is why visibility is so important. The more we see people with disabilities and special needs represented in the media, as the CBC reported, and the more we support companies who are doing the work to make that happen, the better served people in that community will be.
So whether you or children need adaptive clothing or not, you should consider shopping at Kohl's this summer (and dare I remind you that back-to-school will be here before we know it) for the steps they're taking to making sure everyone can make the fashion statement they want to make with comfort and ease. And while you're there, be sure to tell your kids why you're choosing to shop with companies that support people with different abilities. Talking with your kids about people with disabilities is another great way we can all make the world a little kinder for everyone.