In recent years, clothing for children with disabilities, known as “adaptive wear,” has slowly become more commonplace in the fashion industry, providing parents of these children with options that can help make their kids feel as comfortable as everyone else. What started as small businesses such as Slick Chicks or individual Etsy creators selling adaptive wear has now turned into Aerie, Target, Nike, JCPenney, and more big-name brand companies selling these products, WhoWhatWhy’s Farah Javed reported in December 2021.
One in four people in the United States have a disability, and yet clothing that is convenient to them, clothing that makes them feel comfortable and happy, is extremely limited. A lot of people in this world do not see adaptive wear as essential products because they do not have to worry about it, but the parents of these children want to spread the word and let everyone know that there is a way to help make these kids’ lives a bit easier, and many close to this issue believe these adaptive clothes are the answer they’ve been waiting for. While some small businesses were able to supply these clothes, most of the prices ranged anywhere between $30 to $100 per piece making it difficult for parents to afford it. Emily Medrano, a mother to a two-year-old son says, “Few people realize how much needs to be budgeted for clothing when raising a child with a disability.”
As bigger name-brand companies began selling lines of adaptive wear, prices dropped a bit, word was getting out, and parents were beginning to feel comfortable knowing there was now stores selling these clothes. Helya Mohammadian, the founder of Slick Chicks, hopes adaptive wear will eventually become routine items for stores to stock. “It doesn’t need to be categorized as adaptive, and that hopefully in the future becomes something that’s just normal,” Mohammadian stated. As the industry grows, manufacturers should remember that these children are also growing. Kelsie Powers, the parent of a 15-year old who uses a wheelchair, told WhoWhatWhy that her son had sized out of available close. “I feel it is important to remember that children grow into adults and those needs often remain,” Powers said, “This isn’t just isolated to a children’s line.”
In August 2021, the Washington Post published an article about clothing for children with disabilities. Its report addressed topics also covered by WhoWhatWhy, such as parents’ struggles to find clothing for their children that is comfortable, stylish and the right size. The Post emphasized the expansion of the market for adaptive clothing, and reported that sales were “expected to top $1 billion” in 2021. But the Post put less emphasis than WhoWhatWhy on the challenges parents face in finding affordable adaptive clothing. The Post addressed high prices for adaptive clothing only briefly in the final third of its otherwise detailed article.
Source: Farah Javed, “Parents Struggle to Find Clothing for Children With Disabilities,” WhoWhatWhy, December 1, 2021.
Student Researcher: Abigail Lauer (Salisbury University)
Faculty Evaluator: Jennifer Cox (Salisbury University)