( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) French Toast Supports Students During Disability Pride Month
French Toast, a popular New York-based school wear brand, has announced that its new adaptive seated-wear designs for kids will be released next fall. The new line promotes inclusivity for students who use wheelchairs and is available in youth sizes 4-20. It includes a seated ponte knit pant, an adaptive seated twill pant, and an adaptive seated polo. Adaptive features such as seated rises, convenient thigh pockets, and inner leg plackets provide fit and comfort for students who use wheelchairs. The new line of adaptive seated wear from French Toast is a welcome addition to the school wear market. It provides students who use wheelchairs with stylish and comfortable clothing that is designed to meet their specific needs.
The collection trends with educators, parents, and disability rights advocates calling for more inclusive and accessible fashion. To support the disabled community, French Toast pledged to donate $5,000 to The Recess Project Inc. This organization provides accessible playground equipment to schools in order to create a more inclusive recess for students with disabilities. With this donation, French Toast aims to help all kids shine by supporting an organization that will give all students the chance to engage, socialize, and learn together.
This Disability Pride Month, ENSPIRE met with French Toast Senior Director of Design Ashley Tashjian to discuss the collection and future efforts to help students. Ashley Tashjian is the senior design director at French Toast. She has been with the company for eight years and has seen the brand. Before French Toast, she worked at The Children’s Place. She loves her job because she gets to affect the lives of children and their parents by making their lives easier. She finds this to be very rewarding.
French Toast has been in business for 35 years. Four years ago, they rebranded themselves as school wear for all. They have extensive sizing, from 3T to Husky Plus and now Young Adult. However, they realized they were not truly “for all” if they did not cater to people with disabilities. In August 2019, they started researching and developing adaptive clothing. They launched their first adaptive collection in August 2022.
Talking with Ashley made it clear the most important aspect of French Toast was communication with their target audience. French Toast reached out to kids, parents, and caretakers to figure out what types of needs there were. For example, some children could dress themselves while others were not, and French Toast wanted to design clothing for both grounds. Ashley gives the parents credit for the designs. “We really lean on these caretakers and parents for their experience. We call them our designers, we’re just the ones jotting down and making all the products.”
Because of this, the clothes are carefully tailored for a wide variety of needs. The icons have flat seams and almost all tags are tear away to reduce sensory problems in children. Some of these icons have a seat logo to show caretakers the use with seated children. The shirts also have wide necks, lift loops, and hook and loop closures, to help children put on and take off.
Ashley discussed how grateful she was to be a part of this journey. “It really fills my cup, for lack of a better word. We understand that community trust is huge, and that word-of-mouth is powerful. Once you gain the trust of a mom, it spreads like wildfire. And once you get a child young, they’ll be with you their whole life.“
French Toast strives for lower price points than other brands. At the Abilities Expo in LA last March, French Toast displayed their products with prices ranging from $9.98 to $23.98. While not trying to pressure parents into buying their products, Ashley explained she wants to help them and not just sell them things. One mother actually picked up a flyer, looked at the prices, and cried. She told Ashley that she had many other unexpected expenses and that the high price of adaptive clothing was a burden. The French Toast team took this to heart and kept their prices low. French Toast believes everyone deserves access to affordable adaptive clothing, and we are committed to making that happen.
French Toast has also pointed out the following products in stock:
- Boys’ size 12 pants with a relaxed fit and a cargo pocket.
- Girls’ jumper with a front zipper and extended pull, available in khaki and navy.
- Cute Bermuda shorts for girls with hook and loop closure and adjustable waist, available in navy.
- Girls’ size 12 pants with an opening at the bottom for light braces, available in medium khaki.
- Ponte skirt with shorts underneath, lift loops, and available in black and navy.
- Leggings with lift loops, flat seams, and available in black and navy.
- Sweatpants with pockets on the side, opening, and available in a soft fabric.
- Matching hoodie with a story: the first version had a full strip of hook and loop pullover, but children found it difficult to put on. The new version has a smaller strip of hook and loop pullover, for easier use.
- Polo shirts: A shorter version exists for seated wear, with less fabric to affect sitting and prevent sensory issues,
- Cargo pants with multiple pockets
Tashjian said the most important feedback she got from customers was how the adaptive clothes looked the same as other clothes. “Across the board, parents just want their kids to fit in. When they saw that this clothing didn’t look different, they were like, ‘Oh my gosh, sign me up, where can I buy this? I want my kid to look good and cool.’ So that was it.”
The new collection represents a significant step forward in promoting inclusivity and accessibility in the fashion industry. French Toast ensures that students with disabilities and special needs have equal opportunities to learn in school and thrive too. French Toast commits to creating innovative designs that support all students and their diverse needs. The collection continues to retail at affordable prices to ensure that all families can access comfortable and stylish adaptive clothing. French Toast’s new adaptive seated wear designs will be available this back-to-school season as well.
For more information about the complete French Toast Adaptive clothing collection, visit French Toast Adaptive.