Leave a comment

Diaper Accessories: The big Onesie Shootout – Part 14 – SpecialKids.Company

The search for the perfect onesie at times feels like the “Iron Triangle”. You know, that thing where if in an equilateral triangle the center represents the ideal state and the sides are rigidly constrained, the more you move one of the corners towards the center, the more the others move further away. It’s on a general level most often used as a good way to visualize the relationship of cost vs. quality vs. price.

Translated to the world of diaper suits/ bodysuits this can be applied in a multitude of ways. At one time a poor fit might nullify other positive aspects of a product, other times simple sloppy manufacturing may make the best intentions go for naught and yet another time excessive pricing may prevent strong market penetration and a path to glory.

For me personally one of the biggest hiccups always is color choice and acceptable sizing for grown-ups, so I was more than looking forward to getting my hands on the KayCey Vests from SpecialKids.Company after someone casually mentioned them on a forum and I started investigating. Let’s see what they have in store for us.

Colors and Patterns

Despite my not minding flamboyant colors and colorful patterns most of the time even when I’m exposed e.g. during physical therapy, we all have those moments where we need to take a more serious approach to the matter. That is the case for people who might not think it’s that cute at all when elderly ladies benevolently smile at your printed onesie peeking out from under your sweater, but it’s also important for kids to minimize the risk of being victims of bullying or being ridiculed.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, T-Shirt Version, Colors

The SpecialKids.Company suits fill that requirement quite well. To begin with, all colors are slightly subdued, so they don’t pop that much. This in particular applies to the pink and sky blue variants, of course. They both lean towards a warm color interpretation, which makes them appear less aggressive while at the same time avoiding the “baby pastels” trap by not being too pale, either.

The sky blue in addition is matched to the typical color of British school uniforms’ polo shirts and together with the white version by choosing the respective polo type shape can be used as full substitutes for their regular counterparts on those uniforms. Other styles like the sleeveless variant may also be relevant any other standardized, unified clothing the school may require, e.g. sports.

For us adults the most relevant colors beyond white are likely the dark navy (blue) and grey versions. The latter variant features the mottled structure that is typical of grey sweat pants or for that matter other products using similar textiles, most often based on polyester. This should once more make it easy to combine the bodysuits with other apparel without anyone noticing right away.

The navy color for my taste is a bit too dark and has a slight cyan tinge, meaning it appears almost black most of the time. That’s not a terrible issue, it just may not match your blue jeans as well as you may have hoped or look too dark in contrast to some other pieces of clothing you intend to wear. Yupp, the curse of being fashion-conscious. ;-) On that note, I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more colors or even something like the dual colored versions featured in SpecialKids.Company‘s older Wonsie product line such as  a grey suit with black sleeves or vice versa. Perhaps they’ll revive those color schemes.

Size and Fit

I admit I’ll never fully understand the British age-based size system. It’s imprecise and open to individual interpretation by the vendors and thus just as confusing as the American letter-based  system trying to categorize everything into S to XL. I much prefer the French/ German system based on genuine body height in centimeters. Therefore for this review I went with the largest available size targeted at ages 15-16 or size 176, respectively, just to be on the safe side.

This decision turned out to be about right, though admittedly I might in fact try one size smaller next time. I’ve always preferred a very tight fit and the KayCey Vests are shaped very spaciously even for a chubby boy like me. That is of course totally subjective and a matter of individual tastes.

First and foremost these products are made for children with special needs in mind. Those kiddos might prefer things not to be so snug and want greater freedom of movement; wheelchair-bound people may need those extra centimeters to cover their skin, users with feeding tubes conversely may need some space to shove their clothes aside for easy access to their stomach region and ultimately stretching out a polo style onesie too much might look totally iffy, after all. ;-)

Given the size I chose, there’s enough room left to feel comfortable and not bump into issues like the snappers zapping away because of too much tension. At my 1.80 meters height and a slightly stocky figure there are no issues whatsoever. Even moving my arms during physical therapy has no ill effects unlike with some other products that are a tad too short when it comes to upper body length.

In my opinion the sleeve length of the short could be a bit longer. I get that you may not want things to get too lofty, especially when people need assistance for dressing and things could tangle up, but slightly more extended sleeves would be more convincing for the onesies to pass as conventional T-shirts. It’s literally just that one inch…

The lower section is designed to cover your behind and extend down to the upper thighs. This ensures that any incontinence products you may be wearing are fully covered and hidden and of course it keeps you warm. The images may give an exaggerated “big butt” impression because the diaper suit tapers out, but it’s really not that. When wearing the product, it follows your contours naturally.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Polo Version, Front

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Polo Version, Back

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Polo Version, Neck

As an alternative to my preferred T-shirt style there are the already heavily mentioned polo style and a sleeveless/ tank top version. SpecialKids.Company were kind enough to include some examples for this article in my order and you lucky people can win them in a little giveaway (see the separate follow-up post).

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Tank Top Version, Front

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Tank Top Version, Front

I tried them on briefly, but they are not really my thing. I just can’t see myself wearing a polo suit all the time, no matter what the color. I also think if I were to use the tank top, I would like the arm holes to actually be larger, i.e. start lower instead of directly in the armpits. The rationale here of course is to make it more difficult for the kids to inadvertently undress themselves. Still, I think that for adults it may be useful to allow some more leeway and a looser fit, all my critical views and personal preference aside.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Tank Top Version, Neck

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Tank Top Version, Arm

As a final note: All types of KayCey Vests are also available with a dedicated tube access window as a means of controlling PEG / tube access on people who are dependent on such stuff. In addition to standard use cases like feeding tubes or those pesky cables of electronic monitoring devices, this possibly could also be handy for treatments like peritoneal dialysis and so on. The mere mention of these words makes me shudder, though, so I’m just as glad I’m not dependent on any of this yet and won’t elaborate on it too deeply. I’ll just mention that it’s available for the sake of painting the full picture.

Diaper Fixation

I’m always a bit skeptical with those almost romper-like suits and their protruding legs. There’s always the chance the buttons may be placed less than ideally and this could have bad consequences like the snappers being a nightmare to button up or them sliding on each other and getting caught, only to then tear open inadvertently at the most inconvenient time. This isn’t the case here.

I suppose the likelihood of these incidents is a matter of a) how far down the leg pieces actually reach, b) the number and placement of the buttons and c) their strength.

With the leg extensions actually not being this massively long and the coverage being more equal to conventional short “tighty whitey” briefs, case a) is probably taken care of already. The buttons will still end up as a single straight row in your crotch area. At worst, the outermost snappers could end up buried in your groins and feel a bit uncomfortable.

With regards to b), five buttons should sufficiently take care of the matter. As I found out over the course over this article series, this seems to be some kind of sweet spot, anyway. Three is definitely not enough, four often lead to strange warping down there and only five, placed relatively close together, seem to provide enough strength to keep things smooth and reliably sealed up.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Buttons

Odd numbers also have the advantage of being able to start in the middle and not mess up the order. As much as I like my Sanetta onesies for instance, I occasionally still misalign the front and back rows and then end up only closing three buttons with an unused half element on either side being left. You guessed it – you have to start over then.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Colored Buttons Contrast

In addition to this simple intuitive logic of odd vs. even numbers SpecialKids.Company are trying to facilitate this even further by having the central locating popper in a different color. Currently this is their corporate purple, but since on some color combinations it is difficult to recognize, I would love to see alternative colors for better contrast in future production runs. It may be difficult to accommodate depending on actual production numbers and cost efficiency, but one can dream. To illustrate this, I have mocked up an image showing how it could look.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Colored Buttons Simulation

If you are fully able to dress yourself it may of course not be that relevant. I personally rely on my fingertip sensors mostly and don’t stand in front of a mirror or bend forward like crazy just to see the buttons. On the other hand I can see how it might make things a little easier for parents, nurses, kindergarten teachers and so on when they help the little ones get dressed.

Returning to point c) of our little hypothesis, this can easily be answered in a positive way as well. The buttons here are extremely strong, even if they are “just” of the 7 mm type where others use the larger 9 mm ones. In fact it’s a good thing the area where they are fixated has an extra liner tissue sandwiched in. It’s also beneficial that this area is a separate appendage and unlike elsewhere the buttons are not just hammered into the regular leg seams. One can only hope this never happens, but in case you really rip out a button, this would make it much easier to repair things, including possibly sewing on a new strip if you really shredded the original one for good.

Where there’s lots of light, there inevitably is some shadow at least and that comes in the form of the cloth perhaps being a bit too soft to truly hold up a larger adult diaper on its own. It’s quite likely all fine up to a certain size and a specific thickness/ weight, but in particular for the ages 12 and up I could well see that some extra strength being needed. The extended leg parts take a bit off that burden with their friction acting as a “stopper”, but they can’t compensate everything. This is also the reason why I definitely want to try a smaller size to get a tighter fit with more resilience that may counter this issue.

In the long run, though, I think this needs a proper solution, at least for those people not wanting to wear extra fixation garments underneath. Perhaps this means sewing in an extra textile strip to act as a belt, perhaps it means double-layering the cloth, perhaps it means branching out into a completely new product line for adolescents and grown-ups. I don’t know. In any case, this is more or less again one of those adult niggles, not an inherent flaw in the product. You know, different needs and those diapers getting proportionately heavier on larger people…

Materials and Manufacturing Quality

Potential issues with insufficient diaper load-bearing notwithstanding, the supple cloth is otherwise something to love. It’s a textile similar to the one used by Onesies Downunder, consisting of a mix of 95% cotton with the remaining percentage being Elastane. The obvious benefits are a high adaptability to different body proportions and good shape retention (unless you really ruin things by washing or ironing too hot ;-) ).

On the subject of washing – color stability and durability of the cloth are just what you would expect. Those fine cloths tend to be much more robust than one gives them credit for and since here they are a full dye, solid color, this is even less of an issue. If you follow washing instructions you should not run into any problems. I can’t vouch for extreme situations, though, since I tend to not spill ketchup  that might necessitate aggressive high-temperature washing. Rather the opposite – I always have to be careful to not let my pieces turn grey too much when I use washing agents all too sparingly at low temperatures.

No matter which approach to laundry you prefer, it’s more likely that the hot foil print on the inside will come off long before the products have reached their end of life. In addition to containing the pertinent size and manufacturing information this part also has an area where you can fill in your name with a textile marker. This would be useful to avoid mix-ups in cloakrooms at schools with uniforms or residential care homes with multiple people having their laundry done by “someone in charge” and where it would help to sort the pieces after laundry.

The finely knit textile is very gentle to the skin and shouldn’t become a burdensome, itchy mess at any point. There are other measures in place to deal with this exact problem as well. Firstly there are totally no sewn-in clothing tags, which I find a very smart decision. There just never is a good place to put them and after a while they either look totally shabby or drive you bonkers with their sharp edges scratching on your skin (especially with the plastic-y type). Anyone who has ever bought some piece of apparel from a big international brand knows how outrageously tough it can be to get rid of those stacks of tags in like twenty languages even if you have shaved them down to a thin strip and removed them almost completely.

This leaves us with the seams, which if not done right can be just as much a pain – quite literally. We all have those days where we wake up in the morning and have those annoying pressure marks, whether it’s from conventional pajamas or your favorite unicorn onesie. Now imagine how that may feel if you are (partially) immobilized and can’t simply change position or need to wear specific medical braces,  harnesses, casts and so on. SpecialKids.Company tackle this by keeping the seams as flat as possible.

SpecialKids.Company KayCey Vest, Inside Seams

To that end two strategies are employed: The stitching is applied in a horizontal way using flat-locked seams (which, BTW also looks very decorative and pleasing) and where that is not possible, converging edges like the rims of the neck hole are placed in such a way that the thick parts are mostly on the outside and the inner seams are also cleaned up with flat stitching. Of course there are limits to how far this can be taken and in some places you can see that this is also hard on the seamstresses who put the pieces together.

While the overall quality is good, you occasionally notice minor glitches and inaccuracies, especially in areas where multiple seams meet and you wonder if this couldn’t have been done differently. I’m not going to go out on a limb here, though, since I’m not rocking the sewing machine and can only judge this in an abstract “How would I do it?” sense.

Pricing and Availability

Despite being a bespoke/ specially designed special needs garment, the pricing for the KayCey Vests is more than reasonable. Pricing is tiered and relates to the size/ age denomination and begins at around 15 GPB (17 Euros) for the small sizes up to 21 GBP (24  Euros) for the largest ones. With foreign currencies the values fluctuate based on daily exchange rates and with the Brexit looming nobody knows where the journey goes, but that is to say it’s not unaffordable or super-expensive.

Availability is generally not much of an issue. SpecialKids.Company always appear to have a sufficient supply in stock based on my irregular checks of their online store and following them on Facebook. Actual delivery on the other hand gave me a bit of a head scratch.

Being outside the UK can end up confusing due to international shipping agents/ intermediary logistics companies getting involved. SpecialKids.Company send their packages through Hermes, which seems simple enough. At the same time, though, despite the same name, the British version seems to have very little to do with the one based here in Germany, so I ended up getting confusing mails from one of those aforementioned service companies (whose name totally eludes me now) that were not much use for actually keeping track of where the package was. Sentences like “Your package has been processed at the destination parcel center.” don’t really mean much, so unsurprisingly the delivery driver rang the doorbell when I didn’t quite expect it. Yes, I’m one of those people who keep watching out for those colorful trucks and ideally love to know the delivery time down to the minute. ;-)

All of this is not SpecialKids.Company‘s fault, though. Things could be just fine now and all issues smoothed out with this merely being an unexpected hiccup in the system. Still, perhaps they will offer an alternative shipping method via DHL or another big player one day to make this more predictable for us impatient people.

Summary

Compared to many so-so entries in my article series, this is downright bliss. The KayCey Vests are not completely perfect, either (if there is even such a thing), but considerable thought has gone into the design and manufacturing and it carries through to the final product. What’s left is to optimize the larger sizes more for adults and expand the product range with more variants, other colors and all that good stuff.

I’m also hoping that this will develop into a reliable source for these products here in Europe, even if the current state of affairs in Great Britain and its future has a big question mark next to it. There’s plenty of ways to find and get these products – directly via their own web shop, by following the links on their Facebook pages or on Amazon (including the German platform). All that said, you should definitely put these products on your “Wanted” list and give them a try. Your chance to do just that totally for free is just around the corner in our little contest…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: