It’s being called “stress-free shirting” by its creator.
But its magnetic technology replacing traditional buttons could also be a boon to those whose hand movements are limited.
This fall, PVH Corp., which owns the brand, launched a Van Heusen’s men’s dress shirt designed with MagnaClickTM adaptive technology. The shirt began rolling out at some JCPenney and Kohl’s stores and online, and at Amazon.com.
Hidden inside the front placket and cuffs of the MagnaClick dress shirts are magnets that connect and perform the function of buttons.
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“We believe this is a game-changing product that offers a stylish, high-quality solution for consumers with limited dexterity or those seeking an alternative to buttons,” said David Sirkin, president of the dress furnishings group at PVH.
Last year, PVH generated more than $8 billion in revenue. The company also owns the Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Izod, Arrow, Speedo, Warner’s and Olga brands.
“This is truly a major milestone, for retailers to carry adaptive clothing at national chains and help this underserved market,” said Maura Horton, CEO of MagnaReady LLC and founder of MagnaClick.
“It is truly revolutionary,” Horton said of the technology. “Buttons have long been a mainstay as a way to close clothing. Velcro was introduced and patented in early 1950s. This is the first hands-free closure mechanism in over 60 years … to be patented and mainstreamed.”
Like many creations with impact, this was a deeply personal one for Horton.
“My husband was unfortunately diagnosed at an early age with Parkinson’s disease,” she said. “He was a career college football coach, and one day after a game he was stuck in a locker room trying to change … but was unable to button his shirt in time to catch the team plane.”
One side effect of Parkinson’s is limited dexterity. Horton recalled that it could sometimes take her husband, Don, 20 minutes to button his shirt.
A player by the name of Russell Wilson (who is now an NFL quarterback Seattle Seahawks) saw her husband’s struggle and buttoned his shirt in silence.
“Needless to say, my husband was humbled by needing assistance with something that is so personal and most people take for granted,” she said. “When he relayed the story to me, I could hear the frustration and sense of defeat in his voice.”
Horton said she conceived of MagnaClick to help make life easier for him and others.
There are some who buy the shirts just because they are easy to wear, she said.
But clearly, “the largest groups that are helped by our technology are what I call the ‘Silver Tsunami' — the aging baby boomers,” Horton said. “Our oldest customer is 96 and the youngest is 18.”
“Baby boomers or the aging population aren’t familiar with casual Fridays,” she said. “They still like to dress and maintain their dignity and style as they had previously.”
Parkinson’s affects up to one million people; arthritis affects more than 55 million. Others the magnetic technology might help are stroke survivors, wounded service members, the visually impaired, and those with ALS, tremors or neuropathy.
“This is definitely a growing category for us,” said Horton. (MagnaReady is working on other products, she said, though she wouldn’t elaborate.) “The market potential of the Silver Tsunami, combined with those that are differently abled, is tremendous.”