Allied Magazine features inc kid
Clothing with impact
An interview with the founder of inc kid
How did inc kid come about?
inc kid was born out of a personal need. We constantly struggled to find ‘nice’ pants that fit AFOs (ankle foot orthotics). Every winter became a nightmare, especially with the rise of skinny leg pants. We were always running late in the mornings because we couldn’t get pants over AFOs. Day care teachers also struggled at nap time each day to get the AFO and pants back on. One day a day care teacher said ‘you need bigger pants’. At the same time, we struggled with getting jumpers on. There were tears every day when arms got stuck in tight sleeve holes, tight head holes and in tight ribbing at the sleeve. Self dressing was an OT goal but felt impossible with the clothes available on the market. We decided to change that! And so, inc kid was born.
How did you find the process of creating your own collection? What were some of the challenges?
Given the adaptive clothing market is very much in its infancy globally, we felt that it was very important to partner with experts and families with a varying diverse needs. By partnering with Child First Therapy and paediatric physiotherapist Eliza Cavalletto as well as numerous families to design and develop our range. Through this, we found that many kids experienced the same issues that we did. This validated the design choices and directions that were taken. Plus some extra ideas along the way.
Developing patterns for adaptive clothing was a lengthy process. As these features had not been seen or heard of in the past, explaining the intention to pattern-makers, cutters and makers was intricate and detailed. After a few rounds of mock ups or ’toiles’ we got there and were ready to test our clothes on kids!
We explored many different materials for the openings on the arms and legs- velcro, magnets, zips. The feedback from families was that velcro on legs was clunky and didn’t align, but soft velcro was ok on necks. Magnets got stuck on play equipment and washing machines. Zips were the unanimously preferred enclosure. As a result, we spent a lot of time with paediatric occupational therapists at Child First Therapy led by Prue Nix’s and her team to find the perfect zip pulls for kids with dexterity challenges. It needed to be flat, thick, not too slippery and easy to grasp. After exploring countless options, we found the right solution. The Child First Therapy team also suggested that we offer different pulls to suit varying abilities. So we did!
We knew from the outset that we wanted our range to be made from natural, stretch and comfortable materials. And that we wanted to be made in Australia. Sourcing material locally, especially for jumpers was challenging. Cotton fleece is a premium product not readily available. After much searching we were able to source the perfect unbrushed cotton fleece from a local supplier. Equally, finding a stretchy denim that is super comfortable and easy to move in, from a local supplier was scarce. Most jeans are made offshore. This also meant that denim fabricators and denim wash houses were few and far between. We are proud to say that we work with one of the only denim fabricators and wash houses in Australia.
Inclusivity was a non-negotiable. This is our own personal ethos, how we approach parenting and life in general. Therefore when applied to clothing it of course needed to be gender neutral and functional but with a fashionable edge. We think that everyone should have the right to access fashion and easy dressing, no matter who they are. Finding the right balance between fiction, fashion and gender required some thought. We designed signature features such as raw edges, diagonal seams that appeal to all- diverse needs or not. This way our clothes can be passed down and live a long life.
What has been the biggest thing you have learnt since starting?
There are two main things that we have learnt.
- We had lots of ideas but needed to pull them back to focus on very specific solutions in order to meet the demands of a start-up. By doing this we have been able to to cater to a specific demographic, and evolve with their needs.
- There are so many upsides to producing locally, but one of our biggest learnings recently was that we are able to deliver a fast speed to market. This enabled us to respond to customer feedback - such as the demand for larger sizes which we were able to deliver two the market within a 4-6 week time frame.
Can you tell us about your proudest moment?
We have had many proud moments, and so many tears of joy since we launched in April. We are so happy that we have been able to help many kids and families with diverse needs. Some of the proudest moments were when customers like Casey, shared that her son Will had been able to self undress for the first time ever because of our jumpers, which has later led to him being able to do the same with other clothes. This has been a common message received from many families. Lola, a wheelchair bound girl and Isabella Lombardo also experienced the ability to self dress with our jumpers. Other customers have said that our clothes are ‘literally life changing’ and ‘game changers’. Countless paediatric therapists (occupational, physio, orthotists) as well as hospital rehab specialists have shared inc kid with their clients and have thanked us for finding a solution that has been much needed in the marketplace. And for making it inclusive. As a result, our first delivery has almost sold out and that is a big tick for us! But probably the most proudest part of the entire journey is hearing our kid regularly saying ‘I love inc kid clothes, they are so comfy’.. and the fact that they are worn daily on rotation means that we were able to help our own kid achieve goals. The whole reason behind inc kid!
Do you have some tips for parents who are struggling with clothing?
Our tips would be to look for;
- natural materials, reduce irritation and sweat
- Big neck openings in tops
- Pick loose clothing, or go a size up to avoid irritation and avoid limbs and heads getting stuck
- Avoid ribbing in sleeves, so hands don’t get stuck and access to splints and casts is enabled
- Avoid hoods in tops, so heads don’t get stuck
- Pants with drawer strings or elastics
- Pants with belt holes for easy pull up
- Pants with wide leg or stretchy leg holes
- Darker or neutral colours to avoid getting dirty or to style easily with an existing wardrobe
What’s next for you and inc kid?
We are getting ready to launch our big kids range early July (available for preorder now). There was a large demand for larger sizes post launch and so we have listened to our customers and were able to have our best sellers quickly produced locally in Australia. Much of our existing stock has sold out fast, so we are busy working with our makers for our second winter delivery in all sizes 2-16. This is one of the benefits of working with local makers! We are also exploring a small line of functional accessories that the market has asked for and are starting research for our next range.
Currently inc kid is accessible to self or plan managed NDIS customers, if they have a low cost assistive technology (AT) budget with an appropriate allowance. The next phase is to explore becoming an NDIS provider.