Clothes with itchy tags and seams and uncomfortable details? For kids with sensory processing sensitivities, they can make getting dressed in the morning a big obstacle for the entire family. That’s just one thing Target designer Stacey Monsen and her colleagues learned as they talked to guests while designing new pieces for our Cat & Jack kids’ clothing assortment—a limited selection of sensory-friendly pieces.
Available exclusively at Target.com, the pieces include 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. The pieces are based on existing Cat & Jack styles, combining both fashion with function … all at affordable prices. This fall, we’ll expand Cat & Jack even further to include adaptive pieces to help address the needs of children living with disabilities.
It all started when Stacey, a design director for AVA & VIV, Target’s owned brand plus size line, and her teammates saw an opportunity to design pieces that are more accommodating for all guests—including their own kids. We sat down with Stacey and Julie Guggemos, senior vice president, Product Design & Development (PD&D), to hear more about it.
What sparked the idea for the new pieces?
Stacey: I have a 7-year-old daughter, Elinor, who has autism. She’s not potty-trained, which means finding clothes that fit is a challenge. For pants or shorts, I either size way up, or buy pieces that are all function, no style. I’ve met lots of other parents who face similar challenges, including many of our guests and team members. After talking with some of my internal design colleagues I thought, why not create pieces that address some of these problems? So we formed a volunteer team outside our normal roles, and began to research and build our proposal.
Julie: When the group showed us their ideas, it was exciting that they recognized this need in an underserved market and did the research to understand what our guests wanted. It fit Target’s philosophy of making sure all guests feel welcome and included, and we knew Cat & Jack was the perfect place to start. While it’s just a few pieces in the line, for some families, they’ll make a huge difference. To me, that’s a reflection of what a talented team with diverse perspectives can bring to the table.
What were some of the considerations when designing and developing the pieces?
Stacey: We went straight to our guests—met with parents and organizations, like Pageant of Hope, a pageant for girls with special needs and challenges, Mind Body Solutions, a non-profit specializing in adaptive yoga, and National Federation of the Blind Minnesota—to ask about things like what they look for when they shop, how long it takes them to get dressed and whether they shop online. These answers helped us to better understand their needs so we could engineer products to fit more of our guests’ lifestyles.
We learned that sensory-friendly apparel can mean different things for different people. For these pieces, we decided to start with our core tees and leggings, and address guests’ most common requests—like removing tags and embellishments that can irritate the skin. We also added more ease through the hip and a higher rise in our leggings to fit with diapers, if needed, for older kids.
Continue onto Target to read more about this inclusive brand of clothing.