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Irish brand designing clothes for children with Autism

By Felipe Almeida

How far can a parent go to make their children’s lives easier? Gillian Duggan White and Nina Shelton, mothers of children with autism, launched a clothing brand to meet their kids’ sensory needs.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought new challenges for the mothers as they had to buy all their children’s clothing online. This meant that they were unable to feel the fabric to ensure that it would be suitable for their children who have specific sensory needs. Many people on the Autism Spectrum experience hypersensitivity to touch when it comes to clothes (for example, the feeling of the seams, tags, textures, and fabric weight).

Gillian and Nina founded “Sully and Juno”, a new Irish clothing brand for children with sensory needs. The aim of Sully and Juno is to tailor the clothes according to the customer’s needs. A “sensory profile” is provided on their website detailing relevant information, including whether the item is made from lightweight, mid- or heavyweight fabric.

During Christmas, Sully and Juno created an illustration for their Nollaig Shona (Merry Christmas in Irish) jumper, which is now available in both mid- and heavyweight fabrics. Gillian said: “Customers loved it, and some told us it was the first time they had been able to take a photograph of their kids in matching Christmas jumpers”.

The design of the clothes is also a concern for the two entrepreneurs as they did not want to hold on to any standards currently found in the market. Gillian noted that boys’ clothes tend to come in grey, blue, brown, and green, and that it’s uncommon to find pink or brightly coloured clothing for them. At Sully and Juno, nothing is off limits; each item can be personalised with a child’s name and is available in many different colours regardless of their gender.

Affordability was also a point of consideration seeing as it can be very expensive to buy clothes for children with special needs if you can’t buy from standard high street stores or supermarkets. Sully and Juno strive to make their clothing accessible for everyone and be affordable enough so that kids could play in them without the parents having to worry about the clothes tearing. Generally, the prices of Sully and Juno clothing range from 14 to 26 Euros.

The response to the brand has been very positive and their business has grown considerably in the past few months. They attribute the success of the brand to the lack of support that Irish families with autistic members have been facing for a long time.

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