Sensory-Friendly Clothing Goes Mainstream With a New Line From Target

Finding clothing for kids with sensory processing issues isn’t always easy. For kids who are sensitive to the texture of fabric, the fit of clothes, and tags or sock seams that chafe, it can be a challenge.

Traditionally, sensory-friendly clothing has been expensive. It’s also been hard to find. Parents have had to buy from online specialty stores. Amanda Morin, a mom to two kids with sensory issues, says she’s experienced these challenges firsthand.

“My oldest son is 15. For a long time, he wasn’t comfortable in pants with zippers and buttons,” she shares. “Finding pants with elastic waistbands in bigger sizes was difficult and expensive.”

That’s why parents like Morin were pleasantly surprised last month when Target launched a new line of clothes for kids with sensory issues. Released under Target’s Cat & Jack label, the new line includes T-shirts and leggings. The pieces are comfortable, fashionable and affordable. The line may be a relief for parents who’ve struggled to find clothing for their kids in traditional stores.

Target designer Stacey Monsen worked on the new collection. She says she knows all too well the challenges parents face when shopping for their kids.

“I have a 7-year-old daughter, Elinor, who has autism,” Monsen said in a statement released by Target. “For pants or shorts, I either size way up, or buy pieces that are all function, no style.” (Kids with autism as well as kids with learning and thinking differences may have sensory processing issues.)

After talking to other parents and drawing on her own family experience, Monsen and her team created clothing with flat seams. They also eliminated pesky tags and extras that some kids with sensory issues don’t like.

Mom Jennifer Kyrnin also applauds Target’s efforts. Kyrnin has a son with learning and thinking differences. She says it’s a big financial drain to find clothing for his sensory issues.

“My son has cut up his shirts with scissors trying to cut out the scratchy bits,” she says. “That’s not good when we’ve already spent our budget on those clothes to begin with.”

Kyrnin is hopeful about Target’s new line, but wonders if the apparel will meet the expectations of parents. Right now, the line is limited to a few pieces, mostly for preschoolers. That means parents like Kyrnin, who have older children, may not find what they’re looking for.

Target says it will continue to expand the Cat & Jack line. The company is also looking at adaptive styles like zip-off sleeves, and side and rear openings that will help make dressing easier.

Despite Target’s limited offerings so far, Morin says it’s a step in the right direction. She says she’s glad that companies are providing solutions for kids like hers. And both she and Kyrnin hope other companies will follow.

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About the author

About the author

Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.