Target’s Cat & Jack children’s clothing line, which launched in 2016, has grown to be one of Target’s largest brands, bringing in over $2 billion in sales thus far. Earlier this year, the retailer expanded the line to include sensory-friendly pieces that eliminate discomfort when in contact with the skin (eg no itchy tags). In October 2017, Target announced the latest development to the kids’ line: adaptive apparel made specifically for children living with disabilities. The 40-piece assortment was created by Target’s own design team and includes features such as side and back snap and zip closures and hidden openings for abdominal access. Other highlights include outerwear with zip-off sleeves, footless sleepwear and diaper-friendly leggings and bodysuits. The goal is to make the getting-dressed process easier for both kids and their parents. What’s more, all items are made from extra-soft, durable cotton knits.

The retailers’ own research indicated that there was a need for adaptive clothing, and particularly items that are both affordable and fashionable. Target even met with kids to understand what their needs are with different types of apparel. The line is available online only, and is available in sizes 2T-5T for toddlers and XS-XXL for big kids, with prices ranging from $4.50-$39.99.

What we think

Target offers a good example of a mass company learning how to tailor merchandise to meet very specific needs of its customers. Customization is a common trend in retail but this takes it to another level. Target’s decision to include kids in the development of the clothing line fosters a collaborative approach that embodies empowerment. This is likely to appeal to parents, especially given that 28% of parents usually let their children choose their own clothing items and nearly a fifth shop at stores their children ask to go to, according to Mintel’s US report on children’s clothing.

42% of parents want their kids’ clothing to be stylish and trendy.

Both price and style are important to parents, and Target is trying to hit the mark on both attributes. A third of parents don’t think it’s worth spending a lot of money on clothes for their kids because they grow so fast, while 42% want their children’s clothing to be stylish and trendy. When asked how important style is when choosing clothes, one mom in an online discussion panel said “It is very important because it makes them feel better about themselves.”

The fact that the adaptive apparel line is currently only available online reinforces the need for a hassle-free and easy return policy. Other future opportunities could include sizing tools online to ensure a proper fit before buying, something that a quarter of parents are interested in, or the option to pick up orders at the store, with nearly a fifth of parents expressing interest in such services. This would also allow for the opportunity to try on the items while at the store so returns could be made on the spot if necessary.

Diana Smith is an Associate Director, Retail & Apparel at Mintel. She brings a unique background and perspective having previously spent her career growing up in advertising agencies, specializing in media planning and strategy.

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