Having a Child with Down Syndrome, Part LXVIII: Modifying Clothing, and an Open Letter to The Duluth Trading Company

Copyright © 2013 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.

Dear Duluth Trading Company,

I’ve been a customer of yours for several years and a satisfied one.  I have purchased a number of different items that have held up well.  I sent your company a couple of letters, to which you responded to neither.  In these letters, I asked if you would consider sizing some of your clothing for people with Down syndrome.  This has been a constant issue for us because the body proportions of people with Down syndrome are typically longer in the body and shorter in the arms.  Here are our options to clothe her:

  1. Buy short sleeve shirts (doesn’t work in the winter)
  2. Buy 3/4 length shirts (only come in baseball styles)
  3. Buy long sleeve shirts and resize the the sleeves (usually we do this, by buying knits and cutting the cuffs and sleeves off)
  4. Making the clothes from scratch (my wife has done this with sweaters)
  5. Buying clothes that fit in the sleeves and get the inevitable complaints from school about having more on display than she should.

Your long-tail shirts are almost an appropriate solution.  Almost – the sleeves are too long.  Let me illustrate for you – I purchased one of your women’s shirts in size Small (and honestly, Extra-Small would be better if you have it) and here’s what I had to do to it:

IMAG0168On the left, you can see the parts of the sleeves that I cut off.  I had to trim about 7 inches off the sleeves.  To make the clothing look more presentable, I serged the cuffs back on, as you can see on the right.  The whole process took about 45 minutes.  This is the result:

IMAG0171As you can see, the sleeves are still slightly too long, but she’s in a growth spurt right now and I’d like the shirt to fit through the winter.  I know from the quality of your other clothing that the fabric and stitching will hold up well.

As I mentioned before, I understand that your target market it typically tradespeople and not children.  Still, I need to remind you that the population with Down syndrome in the United States is roughly 400,000.  Of your roughly 200 employees, 76 know someone with Down syndrome and it’s about a coin toss that you have at least one employee with a relative with Down syndrome.  Wouldn’t it be a terrific PR coup to help this population by selling clothing that is proportioned better for them?  You have hinged one of your main marketing points as the horror of having one’s buttocks on display:



Great – you offer the opportunity for dignity to the general population.  How about extending that opportunity to their population as well?  I mean, look at that plumber – he’s hardly bending over.  Now compare it to my daughter:

balletSeriously – she’s not even trying to stretch.  This isn’t just little girl flexibility – it’s part and parcel of having low muscle tone.  Alice is several years older than this picture and is every bit as flexible.  A “normal” shirt doesn’t stand a chance.  If you made a long-tail with appropriately sized long sleeves, I would buy at least a half dozen every year.  That sure beats spending 6 hours modifying shirts so that they look good or just dealing with hastily chopped off sleeves.  How about it?


Steve Hawley

Update: This is the Response I’ve gotten from Duluth Trading Company (the first non-robot response to date):

Dear Steve:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. Customer input helps us tailor and improve our products and services. We are happy to forward your comments to our management team.

Please contact Customer Service toll-free at 877-382-2345 or email us at with any questions or concerns. Customer Service is available Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm CST.

We look forward to the opportunity to assist you.


Jackie S.

Which if you understand support is about as much of a non-response as you can give.  It’s impersonal, contains non-specific truths, and sets no expectation for any kind of response.  As such, anything else from DTC at this point will be a surprise.



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