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Brief Published: 30 Mar 2020

Vans Launch Sensory-Inclusive Line


US skatewear brand Vans has designed a footwear range specifically for people living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The limited-edition shoes include numerous sensory-inclusive elements – such as furry materials, squishy panels and iridescent uppers – which focus on touch, sight and sound.

Available in both kids’ and adults’ sizing, the Autism Awareness Collection also incorporates a calming colour palette and features like heel-pulls and padded collars for extra ease and comfort. Vans has also exclusively added a new single-strap ‘hook and loop’ closure system to the children’s shoes, giving kids the independence to put them on and adjust them themselves.

A portion of the proceeds from the collection go to A.skate – an international non-profit that encourages social interaction among autistic children through skateboarding.

Studies estimate that as many as one in 40 children in the US are on the autism spectrum (Organization for Autism Research, 2019). But those suffering from such disorders and other disabilities have a hard time finding clothing and footwear that’s both fashionable and functional, and would prefer not to compromise on either.

Vans is filling this gap in the market with a product just as likely to appeal to those who don’t have any disabilities as those who do – reducing the risk of being ostracised by peers for wearing garments specifically marketed as ‘disabled clothing’.

For further inspiration, see Student’s Design With Disability in Mind, Instagangs: Design for Purpose and The Market for Mindful Design.