The Short of It
Tommy Hilfiger has partnered with Runway of Dreams to create a clothing collection that addresses the challenges faced by kids with disabilities.
Meet Mindy Scheier. Her son Oliver was born with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. As she watched him struggle to get dressed every day, the former fashion designer's creative wheels started spinning, inspiring her to create an adaptive clothing nonprofit called Runway of Dreams in 2013.
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"When Oliver came home from school and asked if he could wear jeans the next day, I was faced with a decision I never had to make before," Scheier explained to Parenting.com. "Do I send him to school knowing he wouldn't be able to go to the bathroom on his own due to his lack of ability to unbutton his pants? Or do I tell him he can't wear what the other kids are wearing because his leg braces won't fit underneath? I chose to let him wear jeans because his self esteem was more important to me than anything."
So the mom of three stayed up late and altered Oliver's pant legs to accommodate the braces, then she went to her son's school during her lunch hour to help him use the bathroom.
"After the lengths it took to put my son in jeans for one day, I knew that there needed to be a change in the industry," she said.
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Scheier spoke with people from all over the world about their frustration with the lack of adaptive clothing options and the challenges they faced spending time and money on alterations. She discovered three commonalities would make getting dressed easier: modified closures, adjustability, and alternate options for getting in and out of the garments. So she started experimenting.
"I bought clothes off the rack," she explains. "I'm a trained designer, so I pulled them apart and made adjustments."
She also visited schools during the day and hosted focus groups at night to test the pieces to see if they actually worked.
They did. And today, Runway of Dreams launched their first major brand collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger. The iconic brand's adaptive collection for kids is now available for purchase on the company's website.
There are 22 pieces for boys in sizes 4-20 and for girls in sizes 4-18. The best part? While the clothing is adaptive—buttons and zippers have been replaced with MagnaReady closures, for example—the pieces look exactly the same as ones in the Tommy Hilfiger Kids collection. And they cost the same, too!
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Scheier—who says her dream is to have adaptive clothing departments in every big box retailer around the world—says the piece she's most proud of is the jeans, because that's where it all started. But her son Oliver told us his personal fave is the button front shirt because it's so easy rip off—his signature move!
"I think it's amazing that I (and the differently abled community) will be able to wear the same clothing as my friends do," he said. "But now I won't be the only one wearing the adaptive version, and that is cool!"