J. Crew for All Meets Soft Clothing
Posted on May 7, 2014
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Dear J. Crew,
Meet my new friend:
I spent some time with my nephew Alex this past weekend. At dinner, I asked him what was wrong. He wouldn’t stop rubbing at that adorable little belly of his. He lifted his shirt and showed me a tag that was rubbing at him. Could he also benefit from a seam ripper? Perhaps there’s a better alternative.
Jessica Ralli was a special education teacher who saw the struggle many parents faced when outfitting their children (many of whom were autistic, had ADHD or other skin conditions like Eczema). So she did something and she created Soft Clothing, a line of clothing with these kiddos in mind.
Why would special needs children need a specialized clothing line? Because many often suffer from Tactile Defensiveness. Items like tags and seams are annoying, painful even. I can attest to this. Tags and textures can be as debilitating and consuming as a migraine. At times, the light touch of a loved one can cause me to recoil and flinch. As upsetting as it is for me and for those I love, I can only imagine the inner struggle of a child who needs and craves the loving touch of a parent, only to find pain and discomfort in its stead.
One of the most interesting things about Soft Clothing is their tagline; “Clothing for all Children”. Why? Because what child wouldn’t love Soft Clothing? Alex is developmentally in the ’norm’ with no diagnosable conditions, yet would clearly benefit from an adorable and comfortable Soft Clothing shirt.
By the end of dinner, Alex started to get fussy. The excitement of the evening wore him down and he wanted his mom. In thinking of his bedtime ritual, I imagined those heavy eyes being lulled to sleep through the routine of a bedtime story.
I don’t believe story time is a comfort we outgrow. Audiobooks are a testament to that. There’s even a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album. Yet history seems to have forgotten that audiobooks originally embraced recording technology so that the visually impaired could be included. In 1931, the American Foundation for the Blind and the Library of Congress established the “Talking Books Program” for injured WWI veterans. These days, we can hear any book on websites like Audible or iTunes. This gives me such hope for the future of Soft Clothing.
Imagine a new and innovative line, much like your In Good Company line, only this one would be called J. Crew For All. This line could create a home for my Purple Cane. And let us not forget the Eone Bradley tactile watch for the visually impaired &/or stylish.
But the most global and inclusive idea would stem from Soft Clothing.
Soft Clothing employs three techniques to create irritant free clothing. First, flat seams are used so the inside of the clothing doesn’t rub or irritate. Soft Clothing then goes a step further by digitally printing tags so there is no peeling or sticking. Finally, all soft clothing items are treated with an enzyme wash that smooths the surface of the cotton.
I propose this for Soft Clothing’s inclusion in this proposed inclusive J. Crew for All line: Collaborate with Soft. Either that or speak with founder Jessica Ralli about ways you can make crewcuts clothing more inclusive for all children. Those flat seams? They’re much sturdier than the overlock seams you use, so they’d increase quality of your already high quality clothing. Plus, if you ever get the chance, ask Jessica about the brand loyalty Soft Clothing experiences.
Before I go, I want to give adults a clothing option that unintentionally addresses the needs of their own sensitivities to touch. Flint and Tinder created a ’10-Year Hoodie’ that is guaranteed for a decade and designed to last a lifetime.
While these hoodies aren’t tagless (the guarantee is sewn into each hoodie) they are thoughtfully constructed with seams that won’t rub. The tops of my hands are one of the most sensitive parts of my body, and the craftsmanship of this shirt excites me. I look forward to stuffing my hands in the pockets of this hoodie without causing myself any excess discomfort.
So what do you think? Are you in the mood to include?
Thanks for listening,
P.S. While New York Magazine has become a bit of a frienemy to me these days (and no, I haven’t heard a peep from them) I did love the intro to their recent J. Crew Mercantile article. I do hope you’re also listening to your YesJCrewCane customers:
P.P.S. I had a really charming conversation with Donald ‘Drawbertson’ Robertson about the importance of Inclusive Design at Estee Lauder. I hope it makes you smile.
P.P.P.S. Will you sign?