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Tommy Hilfiger, Target make clothes for people with disabilities

Down Puffer Vest ($99.50), Micro Dot Shirt ($69.50),

Down Puffer Vest ($99.50), Micro Dot Shirt ($69.50), and Denim Skirt ($59.50) from Tommy Hilfiger's Tommy Adaptive clothing line. Credit: Tommy Hilfiger

Getting dressed is becoming easier — and more stylish — for the disabled and those with special needs as another major retailer is making significant adjustments to one of its clothing lines to accommodate an underserved community.

Target has released a collection of adaptive versions of mainstream clothing for children with disabilities, joining the likes of Tommy Hilfiger who was the first to do so in spring 2016. The collections are available at tommy.com and target.com.

Hilfiger’s adaptive clothing features such modifications as Velcro and magnetic closures and flies, and adjusted leg openings to allow for braces. The adaptive sportswear line is based off pieces from the Tommy Hilfiger collections.

Hilfiger consulted with Mindy Scheier, who used her fashion design background to found Runway of Dreams, a nonprofit organization that advocates for adaptive versions of mainstream apparel for kids and young adults that are “differently-abled” — the term the Livingston, New Jersey, native prefers to “disabled.”

Oliver, one of Scheier’s three children, has a rare form of muscular dystrophy and wears leg braces — which make it difficult for the young teen to dress himself.

After a positive response to his first collection for kids, Hilfiger decided to release an adult line this fall featuring 37 styles for men and 34 for women at prices comparable to its traditional counterparts. (The children’s collection ranges from $18.50 to $89.50; adult clothing is priced from $29.50 to $139.50.)

The modifications include magnetic shoulder clasps; front and back closures to help pull clothes over the head; Velcro and magnetic flies on pants, jeans or chinos; adjusted leg openings and hems to accommodate leg braces and orthotics; magnetic zippers that enable individuals to zip and unzip with one hand and pull-on pant loops inside waistbands.

The clothing is also useful for the many wounded veterans of recent wars fitted with prosthetics.

Target says it also worked directly with children with disabilities to understand their clothing needs. In August, the retail giant began offering sensory-friendly pieces with heat-transferred labels in place of tags, flat seams, and one-dimensional graphic tees, all designed to minimize discomfort when in contact with the skin.

Last month, Target released a 40-item collection of children’s adaptive apparel via its house brand Cat & Jack that includes outerwear with zip-off sleeves; footless sleepwear and diaper-friendly leggings and bodysuits. The clothing utilizes side and back snap and zip closures and hidden openings for abdominal access, which Target says is “all in an effort to make getting dressed easier for everyone — kids and parents.”

The collection is made from extra-soft, comfortable and durable cotton knits. Cat & Jack adaptive apparel is available in toddler sizes 2T to 5T and XS to XXL for big kids. Items range in price from $4.50 to $39.99, with most less than $19.99.

Alissa Morris of Ronkonkoma, whose two sons are autistic, says that as it is, her family is stressed financially with medical expenses, so the option of inexpensive adaptive clothing is something she hopes will become mainstream. Her 12-year-old son is not able to dress himself and for the most part has been limited to wearing mostly sweatpants, she says.

“I think the more that’s available that can meet the needs of people who are still working toward independence with fastening those buttons, tying those shoes, the better,” Morris says. “Especially for those who want to have independence.”

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