Kohl’s Launches Kids Adaptive Clothing Across Private Brands

Kohl’s announced last week that it will introduce adaptive clothing to their three largest, kids’ private brands, including Jumping BeansSO and Urban Pipeline, offering customers adaptive options from baby all the way to juniors and young men available now on Kohls.com.

With features including abdominal access and sensory-friendly and wheelchair-friendly options, the new adaptive clothing is thoughtfully designed, making stylish, quality apparel accessible to all. It recognizes the unique needs of Kohl’s customers, offering the same inclusive fabrics, styles, graphics, and a shopping experience that makes their every day realities a little easier and more rewarding.

A Personal Connection
Kohl’s is continuously evolving its private brand portfolio to better serve customers. Once the idea of adaptive clothing was introduced, Kohl’s associates were eager to bring it to life, including one technical designer who was instrumental in gathering the needed resources and support for the project. Judy Koepsel, technical design manager for kids, is the mother of a three-year-old daughter with unique developmental and sensory needs. As someone who’s personally experienced some of the daily dressing challenges these types of needs bring, she felt she could contribute her point of view and connect with others who have similar needs.

“It really gained steam after Judy got wind of it,” shared Stephanie Curtis, associate product manager for girls sportswear. “When the product design team introduced the idea to our partners, everyone felt a personal connection to this cause. It’s a heartstring project, and enthusiasm to make it happen was really easy to come by.”

Finding the Perfect Fit
For all of Kohl’s apparel, offering customers the right styles and fits is important. However, designing adaptive apparel brought new considerations for our talented team who wanted to be sure they got it right. Judy helped form a group of Kohl’s associate parents whose families include someone with a disability or complex medical needs. Members of Kohl’s product development and technical design teams worked to understand the unique needs of each family and create beneficial products that could make life easier by offering both quality and functionality –– whether that meant accounting for a diaper in all size ranges, designing for comfort and functionality while seated in a wheelchair, creating strategically placed access to abdominal openings for medical ports and gastronomy feeding tubes, or focusing on easy dressing for both the user and caregiver.

“We aligned on what needed to be considered when fitting, such as how a pant fits when sitting down, could the pockets still be used, is the shirt long enough to cover in the back, and so forth. Everyone involved was extremely thoughtful as to how the product would be used,” said Judy. “I was truly impressed by the level of dedication and thoughtfulness the team put into this project.”

Special consideration was also taken to ensure the adaptive product was as inclusive as possible, with styles and designs that mirrored those of its counterparts. “Just because we are creating clothing for unique needs doesn’t mean that it needs to be basic,” said Kara Smoltich, associate product manager for Jumping Beans. “We have made every effort to ensure that the product looks as close to our core line as possible. Everything from graphic artwork to pocket detail is reflective of the brand.”

Instilling Confidence
As the adaptive apparel came to life, the many Kohl’s teams who collaborated on the project were eager to ensure it would not only service the needs of the customer but also inspire confidence in the children who wear it. And so far that seems to be the case. After recently seeing footage of children wearing the product for marketing purposes, Stephanie was overwhelmed with joy at the response. However, she’s excited to hear customer feedback and spark dialogue about adaptive needs. “Engagement is going to be really key, and we’re all so excited for that response and the dialogue that comes next,” she said.

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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.