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I have a beautiful granddaughter who was born with Down syndrome. She has enough challenges to face in her life and I want to make sure that finding appropriately fitting clothes will not be one of them.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jillian Meets the Models

Appointments are in place and we start to meet with our models one by one.  Jillian is fantastic with everyone; her kind heart radiates.  She loves working with our models and begins to understand the purpose of her new job. She first starts with muslin fabric to use for the fittings.  It’s inexpensive and she’ll go through a lot of it as the weeks go by.  When making the pants for each fitting she makes a pair out of muslin, then adjustments are made to that pair of muslin pants and then she makes another a pair based on the corrections of the last pair.  

This goes on for many weeks and when she is satisfied with the fit, she makes a pair out of denim.  She explains to me that designing an article of clothing for a person in not that easy.  Sometimes it takes several attempts to get a good fit and maybe even more after that.  But creating a size of clothing for these unique body shapes is like being Christopher Columbus; she is discovering a new world in unchartered waters.  As we return to our models, the fittings are not always very good. A change in one place, changes how it fits in another.  Also, some of our models are more difficult to fit than others.  The unique shape of a person with Down syndrome definitely becomes apparent.  What an awakening for us both.  By the time Jillian and I are satisfied with the fit for our models, she will have made over 80 pairs of pants.
During this fitting process, I realize that just a pair of jeans in not enough.  We would at least need a T-shirt.  How I could possibly have a picture on our website of our models wearing a pair of our jeans with an inappropriately fitting shirt.  We must have a basic shirt for sure!  What pair of jeans doesn’t need a T-shirt?  So, not only does Jillian have to create a pair of jeans, but also a T-shirt like no other.  What has she gotten herself into?
But the next problem with this overwhelming task is that these pants she has created only fit our models.  We must create a pair of pants that will generically fit a mass of people that are all so uniquely different. If we are the only source of clothes for people with Down syndrome, we will have to create several different styles to fit several different body shapes.  The next big issue is creating a size for each of our styles.  We cannot use typical sizes; we already know they don’t fit.  So we have to invent a size, I named our sizing “Downsizing”.  We have to come up with a way to label our clothes with a size that is unique to our clothing line.  Even after that, how do we know they will fit a population of people with Down syndrome?
As luck would have it (but for me I think it’s more than luck) I learned about the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention being held in Orlando, Florida in July.  What an opportunity!  This could be the perfect venue to test the fit of our jeans.  So I purchased an exhibitor’s booth.  I felt if we could complete a pair of jeans in several styles and various sizes for adult men and woman, and finish a simple long-sleeved T-shirt, we could use this event to see how a variety of different people would look in our jeans and shirts.  We already knew how much better our models looked in proper fitting clothes; but what a way to see how they might fit many others.
This gave us a target date to finish designing a pair of jeans and a simple T-shirt.  Now, we must complete these patterns, get all samples of each style and size manufactured, have them shipped here from our manufacturer in China and then ship them to Orlando by the end of July…no pressure here!  Am I out of my mind; what was I thinking.


  1. You call it MtM: Made to Measure.

    (Or perhaps a percentage. The Italians have it right with the way they label their brassiers: from 1-7).

    Jillian is doing a great job!

    Other things besides T-shirts which are currently worn with jeans: tank tops, tubes ...

    And just about every fashion company comes with its "own" sizes, which are difficult to match to other sizes from another shop.

    * * *

    Have a great time at the NDSC in Florida next year!

  2. It's nice that you are following my stories. I wish I had more time to write, I have so much to tell. There are so many wonderful experiences that I have had in the past year as I've been creating this company. It's been an amazing journey. I'll continue to write, but we have been so busy preparing for our first order.

  3. Just a quick Hey.

    Do you know about this company?

    The girl is a few years older than Maggie.

    It'll Fit

    Yes, I know the sizes are for people under 18. I did think it will be good to compare notes.