As brands become more attuned to the needs of beyond-mainstream consumers – and the untapped opportunity that lies here – US retail giant Target has added a selection of ‘sensory-friendly’ items to its kids’ clothing label, Cat & Jack.
Tops and leggings under this designation are stripped of elements that can irritate children with autism or sensory-processing sensitivities, featuring tag-free (heat transferred) labelling, flat seams, no embellishments and extra-soft fabric. The leggings are also wider in the hip with a higher rise, for older children still wearing diapers. More broadly, a Target blog post outlines plans to introduce further adaptive pieces for kids with disabilities – for instance, garments with zip-off sleeves or side openings that make dressing easier.
As noted in Diversity Rules, from our New Fashion Landscape 2017 Update, the varied-ability market presents a sizeable opportunity. In the US, an estimated one in 45 children has an autism spectrum disorder (US National Center for Health Statistics, 2015).
Target follows the lead of American label Tommy Hilfiger, which last year launched an adaptive collection for kids in collaboration with US non-profit Runway of Dreams. It also echoes US brands like Independence Day Clothing, aimed at tweens and teens with autism, and ABL Denim, for people with limited mobility or dexterity.
Retailers and hospitality providers are also starting to recognise this unmet need. For instance, popular US kids’ entertainment and restaurant chain Chuck E. Cheese's recently introduced monthly Sensory Sensitive Sundays for children with special needs. See Empathetic Brand Engagement for more in the retail realm.