“Radically inclusive” fashion brand T.W.I.N. marks White Cane Safety Day with release of new Braille T-shirt collection

To mark White Cane Safety Day (15 October), which celebrates the achievements of blind and visually impaired people, fashion company T.W.I.N. today launched its new Braille collection.

The range consists of three colourways of the 02 Braille Layered T-Shirt ($65), imprinted with T.W.I.N.’s logo in Braille. Made of sustainable deadstock fabric, the T-shirts come in a genderless design to suit everyone.

An estimated 253 million people are visually impaired worldwide and as a whole, disabled people represent one in four shoppers. A portion of the proceeds of sales of T.W.I.N.’s T –shirts will be donated directly to VISIONS, an NYC-based non-profit that provides services for the blind and visually impaired community.

To further promote and bring awareness to issues faced by the blind and visually impaired community, T.W.I.N. has teamed up with blind award-winning creator and NYC-based musical artist Lachi, who stars in the collection’s campaign. Lachi is an award-winning recording artist, producer and disability activist.

Founded by Isabella and Alicia Serrani, T.W.I.N. (That’s What I Need) is a twin-owned, Toronto-born, New York-based company “focused on making good products, honestly”. The Braille campaign is part of T.W.I.N.’s mission to promote radical inclusivity across the spectrum of race, gender, and ability both in representation, and their creative process.


Disney brings Marvel and Star Wars into its adaptive roleplay and wheelchair cover sets

Disney has added a new line up of adaptive roleplay kids’ costumes and wheelchair cover set to a range it launched last year, bolstering its inclusive play lines with the addition of costumes inspired by Marvel Studio’s Black Panther, Star Wars: The Mandalorian and a The Mandalorian Wheelchair cover set.

The new line-up joins the previously launched adaptive costumes inspired by Disney Princess and Pixar characters that were created in collaboration with Disguise in 2020.

These adaptive features allow fans who use wheelchairs and have other accessibility needs to transform into some of their favorite characters across the Disney portfolio. Also available now on shopDisney.com, is a robust Halloween 2021 lineup including costumes for adults, kids and pets.

“I’m thrilled that through the expansion of our Adaptive Roleplay collection, we can further connect our iconic franchises with fans and families worldwide through thoughtful design that allows everyone to take part in their favorite stories and worlds – from Marvel Studios’ Black Panther to Star Wars: The Mandalorian,” said Stephanie Young, president of Consumer Products, Games and Publishing.

“With today’s announcement, we’re better able to meet the needs of more of our Guests, and we’re excited to see this inspired collection continue to grow.”

The costumes are designed with stretch fabric that opens in the back for front entry only to allow for more accessible dressing. The adaptive line is open in the rear and has longer length inseams for wheelchair-friendly wear. The costumes also have flap openings on the front center with self-stick fabric closure to accommodate tube access.

Meanwhile, the wheelchair cover sets fit most standard wheelchairs with 24-inch wheels and come with supportive plastic piping pieces for added stability and long self-stick fabric strips to help keep the pieces in place. It is advised that the wheelchair is operated by a helper when the cover set is attached.

The 2021 Halloween assortment includes costumes inspired by all-new releases like Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon and Marvel Studios’ Wanda Vision, as well as Halloween classics like Hocus Pocus, Haunted Mansion, and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Additionally, the lineup features all new clothing, accessories, and decor featuring Disney’s notorious Villains characters, Marvel’s elite heroes, and more.

Rubies launches range of adaptive costumes to make dress up and role-play more inclusive

Rubies has released a new range of adaptive costumes designed for children with limited mobility and boasting a selection of features that makes them optimised for ease of wear, accessibility and fitting.

The new collection has been designed to enable all children – regardless of their level of ability – can engage in role-play and dress up, with specially designed features that allow them to do so.

Features include back opening in the trousers and skirts, which allows wheelchair users to dress in bed or in a laying down position, and the combination of Velcro fastenings with elasticated areas add comfort and allow for easier dressing. A discrete front flap opening allows access to tubes on the abdominal area.

Furthermore, the seated area of the costumes is free from costume fabric, helping to reduce pressure points which can cause sores and ulcers from wrinkles, creases or pronounced seams.

To ensure the collection provided comfort and inclusivity with the key demographic, the costumes have been tried and tested on a select focus group of participants in this year’s Superhero Series Powered by Marvel, with positive feedback across the board on the designs and features. One of the costumes even featured on a Good Morning Britain section with Emerson Grant showcasing his Spider-man outfit to the nation.

Mike O’Connell, managing director, said: “We are extremely pleased to announce the introduction of Adaptive Costumes into our extensive licensed portfolio. As an inclusive and innovative company, we strive to create a world where everyone can express themselves equally. Although our exclusive Adaptive Range costumes are different in their features and design, we wanted to ensure our price point matched any other costume of the same quality within our range.

“Dress-up play is a very important part of childhood, allowing children to explore different characters and role models and shape who they become, and we hope these costumes will allow every child to be able to do this.”

The new range will launch with a choice of characters from Marvel, DC and The Mandalorian that are instantly recognisable and highly inspiring to children. The superhero range in particular focuses on Captain America and Spider-Man’s jumpsuits featuring 3D padded muscles; both consist of tops, trousers and snood.

The range also includes Wonder Woman’s dress which has a shimmering sequin bodice detail, a full layered skirt and comes with a range of accessories to complete the character including cape, boot covers, gauntlets and a foam tiara.

Adaptive Costumes will be available to order in time for Halloween. Contact the Rubies sales team to find out more.

Guide Dogs UK creates The Gruffalo scents to make story time inclusive for visually impaired children

Magic Light Pictures and Macmillan Children’s Books have partnered with the sight loss charity, Guide Dogs to answer the age old question: what does the Gruffalo smell like?

Via this innovative new partnership, characters from the popular children’s book by Julia Donaldson – Mouse, Fox, Owl, Snake, and the Gruffalo – will be brought to life in a series of scents developed to help make reading a story inclusive for the whole family.

Research has found that 80 per cent of how we learn is visual. Guide Dogs has therefore made the move to create a sensory version of the beloved 20-year-old story for the first time, helping children with visual impairment feel more included in the story.

Working in partnership with Macmillan Children’s Books and Magic Light Pictures, the charity has created a scent kit that includes five inhalers, one for each character of The Gruffalo. The quick-witted mouse smells like cupcakes, the fox smells of cut grass, the owl smells like a freshly poured cup of tea, and the snake bring with it a smoky scent.

The Gruffalo himself carries with him a leathery barnyard smell that permeates from the depths of the deep, dark wood.

Kerry Kernan, Guide Dogs Children and Young People National Service Operations Manager, said: “Discovering a child has a vision impairment can be a worrying and confusing time for families, and we have a range of services to help. We hope that the universal appeal of The Gruffalo will help shine a light on how important it is to make things as inclusive as possible. Small adaptations and innovations can really help support families with a vision impaired child.

“Every year we help hundreds of families build their knowledge and confidence, and provide tools that are right for each family’s specific needs – whether that’s through enabling more moments like inclusive reading, or by providing services like habilitation support, education support or grants for parents and children to access new technology.

“We hope that this scent kit encourages more parents across the UK to reach out to us for help – and for more people to recognise and support the work we do with children and young people.”

Each scent in the kit was developed with the input of Guide Dogs service users to ensure they were at the heart of this.

Roger Whalley, Guide Dogs UK service user, said: “The support from Guide Dogs’ Children & Young People services has been life changing for our family. Not only in helping us navigate Josie’s sight loss journey, but also for building her confidence through teaching her life skills and providing opportunities for us to meet other families going through a similar experience.

“The Gruffalo is a much-loved story in our house, and we are thrilled that this scent kit will allow our daughter Josie who has visual impairment and our sighted son Wolf to be able to enjoy their favourite book together – something which I think most families rightly take for granted.”

Alyx Price, Associate Publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books, added: “We are so pleased to be working with Guide Dogs to help more children and families enjoy The Gruffalo. As publishers, we want to find ways for all children to access stories and this is a wonderful new way to enjoy books together.

“By interacting with the smells for these well-known characters, visually impaired children can now experience this favourite picture book and ‘meet’ the characters themselves.”

 In addition, Guide Dogs Specialist Education Support Team has developed a bank of resources specifically to support the parents of children with a vision impairment, this includes bringing books to life using touch and sound.

Mattel’s Barbie launches new diversity ranges as its named gobal toy property of the year by NPD

Having recently been named the 2020 top global toy property of the year and the number one fashion doll in the UK by the NPD Group, Mattel’s Barbie is pushing forward with its mission to represent global diversity and inclusivity further within the fashion doll aisle.

Through new additions to its Fashionistas line-up, the Barbie brand now welcomes its latest inclusivity push with Ken in a wheelchair, Ken with rooted hair, and a Barbie with lighter skin with vitiligo.

The Barbie Fashionistas line is recognised as the doll brand’s most diverse and inclusive range with more than 175 looks, offering children a variety of skin tones, eye colours, hair colours and textures, as well as body types and fashions to choose from. The latest additions to the range are reflective of the responsibility that Mattel takes in broadening the fashion doll brand’s diversity by bringing new inclusivity to the Ken doll collection.

The new diverse range will be available across the UK from this February. The brand will also be rolling out new product packaging that includes a reusable bag for kids to carry their dolls and improve portable play.

“As Barbie accelerates to new heights as the number one global toy property and holds as the number one fashion doll property, the message is clear that Barbie brand is more relevant than ever,” said Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls, Mattel.

“As the most diverse fashion doll line on the market, we take great responsibility in better reflecting the world around us and know there are many positive benefits to exposing children to dolls with different skin tones, hair types, abilities and more.

“We are proud to offer an even wider range of diverse choices with the latest Barbie Fashionistas line so more kids see themselves reflected in our doll line.”

Licensing International launches its Accelerator Program to fuel diversity in the licensing industry

Licensing International has unveiled a new Accelerator Program aimed at bridging the gap between under-represented, diverse entrepreneurs and the resources they need to build their companies within the licensing industry.

The move is the latest in Licensing International’s ongoing efforts to help its members and the broader licensing community build diverse and inclusive workplaces.

The Diversity & Inclusion Accelerator Program was developed by Licensing International’s IDEA Committee (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility), a group of high-level executives from across the global brand licensing industry working to advance this cause and conversation.

The launch of the Accelerator Program was announced at the latest Diversity & Inclusion Workshop Wednesday, November, 18th which saw executives from Horizon Group USA, Encantos, Marquee Brands and WildBrain discuss challenges and share insights.

Maura Regan, president, Licensing International, said: “We have always been committed to attracting, developing and retaining the best and brightest from all backgrounds to our incredible industry.

“The findings of our study of diversity in the licensing community – conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount St. Mary’s University and released back in August – made it clear that there is still much work to be done in this regard, and our Accelerator Program is another important vehicle to continue creating meaningful change.” 

Companies chosen to participate in the Accelerator Program will receive benefits valued at over $100,000 including monthly mentoring meetings with industry leaders, enrollment in the Coursework in Licensing Studies professional certification program and a one-year Licensing International membership.

To be considered companies must be in the brand licensing business, can be either for-profit or non-profit, and all applicants must be diverse (whether along the lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, age or physical attributes).

Applications are being accepted now through April 30, 2021, and the 2021 Accelerator Program Cohort will be announced the week of May 24, 2021. 

To learn more about the Licensing International Diversity & Inclusion Accelerator Program and apply click here.

Results of the first-ever global study of diversity in the licensing business community, conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount St. Mary’s University, and the Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit are available to download for free.

The work of Licensing International’s IDEA committee is supported by Champion-level sponsor, NFLPA and Supporter-Level sponsors, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Peanuts Worldwide, a division of WildBrain.

Queer Eye brings new charge of inclusivity to retail with QueerEyeStore.com launch

The moment is here; Queer Eye is heading to retail.

Scout Productions – the Emmy and Academy award-winning team behind the hit series – has detailed a multi-layered licensing programme of new products and the launch of QueerEyeStore.com, a platform to bring fans all things fashion, inclusivity, and Queer Eye.

The programme has been created in partnership with the show’s licensing agency, IMG, and features products based on the Enny award-winning television series, including a new apparel line featuring the Queer Eye personalities. The range is available now on Amazon and via QueerEyeStore.com.

Further highlights include the recently launched exclusive home furnishings line at Walmart and a successful line of Queer Eye themed books, including the YA book for pre-teens.

Inspired by the show’s positivity and kindness, the new environmentally friendly apparel line of fashion-forward t-shirts, hoodies/sweatshirts, masks and accessories features artwork from a group of talented designers, who are active members of the LGBTQIA community.

A portion of the proceeds from every sale will benefit the Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest agency dedicated to LGBTQ homeless youth. Each item incorporates the designers’ favorite parts of the show and new items will continue to rollout including a soon-to-be-unveiled winter line.

“Scout is a company that was built to have a positive impact on the LGBTQ community. We are extremely proud of our Queer Eye licensing program and have been overjoyed at the overwhelmingly positive response to all of our products, especially the home furnishings line at Walmart.com where the product continues to be in high demand as soon as it is released,” said Joel Chiodi, SVP of strategic development.

“With the launch of QueerEyeStore.com, we are able to bring thoughtfully designed, environmentally-friendly products directly to the fans, while also raising money for an amazing organization whose positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ youth cannot be understated.”