sensory friendly clothing
J Julia DeNey

Behind the Scenes: Creating Sensory-Friendly Clothing

May 2, 2024

The fashion industry is an exciting world. Each season, new trends are released that, for many, become their new wardrobe. But for years, those with sensory sensitivities haven’t gotten to enjoy these new trends because they are just not comfortable with them. 

Luckily, in the bustling world of fashion, a quiet revolution is unfolding that aims to make everyday life profoundly better for children with sensory processing issues, and at the heart of this movement is Sense-ational You. We are dedicated to designing sensory-friendly clothing that not only offer comfort and functionality, but that’s not it, we also foster greater understanding and acceptance of children with Autism and other sensory sensitivities. 

Understanding Sensory Sensitivities

Sensory sensitivities in children describe their extreme reactions to sensory inputs that are typically tolerable to most people. These sensitivities are often found in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and other developmental conditions. 

Sensory sensitivities encompass all the senses, which include sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell, as well as vestibular (balance), and proprioceptive (body awareness) systems. Children who are affected may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive. 

  • Hypersensitivity: Children with hypersensitivity, often called sensory avoiders, may react strongly to sensory inputs such as certain clothing textures, loud noises, or bright lights. Their typical responses include covering their ears, squinting, or avoiding specific textures and flavors. 
  • Hyposensitivity: On the other hand, hyposensitive children, often called sensory seekers, seek excessive sensory stimulation; they might frequently touch objects, desire intense flavors, or engage in repetitive movements like spinning. 

Sensory sensitivities can profoundly affect a child's day-to-day experiences. They often influence their dietary preferences, choice of clothing, educational and social interactions, and participation in activities. 

Luckily, there are strategies like creating sensory-friendly environments and providing sensory-friendly products like seamless, soft clothing that minimize overwhelming sensory input. Occupational therapy that includes sensory integration techniques can also help children develop strategies to cope with and gradually increase their tolerance of sensory inputs.

The Genesis of Sense-ational You

Sense-ational You was founded by a former special educator and Cornell University Fashion Design major who worked alongside local parents and advocates who experienced these sensory challenges firsthand. Our company started with a simple goal: to make clothes that feel good and alleviate sensory challenges. The journey began as an independent study with extensive research and consultation from occupational therapists and pediatricians to ensure that every garment was both functional and fashionable.

Innovative Designs & Features

The clothing line at Sense-ational You is carefully crafted to address various sensory needs and ensure that children who wear them are comfortable and fashionable. Clothing items we have created include: 

  • Sensory-friendly hoodies offer tag free sensory comfort for a safe haven from overwhelming environments and increased independence when fine motor skills are challenging. All while still looking stylish and weather-appropriate. 
  • Sound-reducing sensory hoodies use specially designed materials to dampen noise, which is ideal for auditory-sensitive children. They also feature an eye mask for a sensory break on the go. These hoodies are popular and help manage auditory sensitivity without using headphones. 
  • Sensory-friendly joggers feature soft, stretchable fabrics and minimal seams. Your child will be stylish without dealing with the itchy seams often found in other joggers. They also feature extra stitched down pockets and a magnetic pocket that creates a built-in fidget.
  • Compression t-shirts provide gentle pressure that can help reduce anxiety and improve focus without making the wearer look like they are wearing anything other than a regular T-shirt. These are a favorite among sensory seekers.
  • Sensory-friendly t-shirts are made without tags and with flat seams, ensuring they don't irritate the skin. Two of the most common issues with clothing are itchy tags and seams. These shirts solve both of those problems and look great in the process. 
  • Accessories like our fidget hair accessories serve dual purposes as stylish adornments and discreet sensory tools. They are an excellent way to sneak in a sensory tool while providing an option if they need to get their hair out of their face later. 

We are proud of the research that goes into designing each of our products and plan to release more products down the line, but more on that later. 

Production Process

Now, let’s talk about the material. Selecting the right material is essential to creating sensory-friendly clothing because no one likes itchy or uncomfortable materials. Behind each piece of clothing, we rigorously select materials with largely natural materials like cotton and utilize non-toxic dyes. 

In addition, we collaborate closely with the sensory-sensitive community by gathering insights that guide our design process and ensure that each meets their needs. 

Impact & Reception

One of our goals when we created Sense-ational You was to impact the community, and we believe we have been successful so far. Parents report that their children are not only more comfortable in our clothes but also more confident. 

In schools where these garments have been introduced, social interactions among students have seen a noticeable improvement. Because when your clothes feel good, you feel more comfortable. Plus, no one needs to know that their clothing differs from what their friends wear. 

Expanding the Conversation

It’s important to note that we are not just a clothing brand. We see ourselves as a platform for advocacy. Because of this goal, we have integrated education into your website and social media accounts and participate in community events to raise awareness and increase inclusion for sensory sensitivity. 

Our efforts encourage conversations among children, parents, and educators to lead to a more inclusive community. 

Future Directions

We love the progress we have made since our launch in 2022, but we don’t plan to stop there! Sense-ational You intends to expand our line to include many more adaptive clothing and outerwear options. We are also looking into exploring eco-friendly materials to enhance sustainability. 

We plan to do all this while keeping our primary purpose of making the fashion industry more inclusive for all sensory needs as our top priority. 

Check Out Our Clothing Today! 

At Sense-ational You, we seek to exemplify how fashion is so much more than just how a person looks, it is how it makes the wearer feel. Whether your child has sensory needs or not, our clothing will help kids feel stylish and comfortable, all while creating a more inclusive and accepting society!

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