Fashion designer and mom of three Mindy Scheier has advocated tirelessly for more adaptive clothing for kids with disabilities like her son Oliver who has muscular dystrophy. This week, she achieved a major milestone with a special new line from Tommy Hilfiger.
Today, the global brand unveiled the new Tommy Hilfiger adaptive clothing line for kids -- a collaboration with Scheier's nonprofit Runway of Dreams. According to the brand's website, the line is "a very special collection addressing the challenges the differently-abled community faces each day when getting dressed."
The new clothes feature velcro and magnet closures from MagnaReady, an adaptive clothing brand founded by a designer whose husband has Parkinson's disease. The pants feature closures on the legs and fly and also allow for waist and length adjustability.
According to the Tommy Hilfiger website, the new line features 22 pieces in sizes spanning from four to 18 for girls and four to 20 for boys. "Every detail was considered, so the clothing is not only functional but looks exactly the same as the TH Kids collection." Scheier states in the Q&A portion of the site, adding, "They also cost the same price, which is an amazing thing."
The tagline for the collection is "because every kid deserves a great pair of jeans" -- a nod to the experience that inspired Scheier to launch Runway of Dreams.
When Oliver was 8 years old, he asked his mom if he could start wearing jeans like his friends did, but because he wears leg braces, traditional jeans just weren't an option. Scheier tried to make it work by altering a pair of jeans to go over the braces, but she had to go to Oliver's school at lunch time to help him take off the pants to use the bathroom. Ultimately, the mom understood the pressing need for more substantive change for kids with disabilities who struggle with clothing every day.
Fast forward a few years and thanks to Scheier's work, the Tommy Hilfiger adaptive line features skinny and straight leg styles of jeans, as well as jeggings to address different kids' needs and abilities.
Mom and HuffPost blogger Ellen Seidman, whose son Max has cerebral palsy, had the opportunity to sample the collection before its release and shared a glowing review on her website. Despite the many hurdles her son has overcome -- like learning to feed himself, hold a cup and twist a doorknob -- he is still not able to dress himself without help.
"When your fingers don't do what you want them to do, buttons, snaps and even zippers can be tough to manipulate," she wrote. "Your child is frustrated by this lack of independence. Therapists at his school put fabric loops on sweatpants so he can pull them up and down, but have no suggestions for how he can put on his own shirts."
But the new Tommy Hilfiger line can help change that. "Clothes like these will be a game-changer for our kids,"Seidman continued. "Not only will they have more autonomy, they'll better fit in with their peers, given that the clothes have the usual cool, crisp Tommy style."
The mom told The Huffington Post, "Max may have special needs, but his desire to look cool is totally typical."
As for Mindy Scheier, she has no plans to rest on her laurels. As she told Seidman, "My dream is that there's adaptive mainstream clothing for every person out there whether you're shopping at Walmart or Saks Fifth Avenue."
Keep up the life-changing work!
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