CSU apparel and merchandising faculty recognized with national awards

The Apparel and Merchandising program in the Department of Design and Merchandising collectively received an impressive number of awards at the 2019 International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA) annual meeting. Faculty and students received two Paper of Distinction awards, and new Assistant Professor, Kristen Morris, brought home two awards from the conference.

First accredited program in the nation

Apparel and Merchandising faculty stand with the program's certificate of accreditation.
Faculty with the TAPAC Accreditation Certificate.

The Apparel and Merchandising program in the Department of Design and Merchandising was recently approved by the Textile and Apparel Programs Accreditation Commission (TAPAC) of the ITAA as the first accredited program in the nation. The department went through an extensive accreditation process, including an onsite visit, to achieve this milestone.

Programs are required to review their administration, faculty, facilities, equipment, and student policies before they can be accredited. These are all used to ensure that student learning outcomes achieve the highest level of expectations. Students leaving TAPAC accredited programs will be prepared for current needs of relevant industry upon receiving their degrees.

Paper of Distinction Award, Social Psychological Track

Jennifer Paff Ogle, professor, Courtney Morgan, a master’s student,and Karen Hyllegard, department head, along with Kelly Reddy-Best of Iowa State University, were recognized with the Paper of Distinction Award, Social Psychological Track, for their paper “’I kicked those babies off and put the typical lesbian Birkenstocks on:’ Authentic style-fashion-dress negotiations of lesbian married couples on their wedding day.” The award recognizes excellence in scholarship covering appearance management, identity, group behavior, popular culture, body image, acculturation, gender, and dress.

Since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, there have been over a million same-sex marriages in the United States. The researchers conducted an in-depth, exploratory study on how lesbian married couples in the United States negotiated their style, fashion, and dress on their wedding day. The work was guided by theory exploring authenticity as related to self-expression through appearance. Four themes that emerged included (1) ambivalence, re-negotiations, and labor surrounding the identity or concept of “bride” or what it means to be a bride; (2) gender expressions and experiences as central to the negotiation and construction of style-fashion-dress for the wedding day; (3) representations of the authentic self in wedding day style-fashion-dress; and (4) heteronormative experiences. The gender and other symbolic negotiations in the couples’ style-fashion-dress led to an authentic expression of self, resulting in feelings of empowerment for these couples on their wedding days, despite the fact that their style-fashion-dress sometimes prompted feelings of ambivalence, labor, re-negotiations and/or heteronormative experiences. Findings suggest implications for lesbian, queer, and heterosexual focused wedding retailers and event planners to consider in order to provide an affirming experience for the increasing number of same sex married couples in the United States.

Paper of Distinction Award, Culture Track

Rebecca Maria Dias, a summer graduate of the program who is now an assistant professor at Radford University, and Bharath Ramkumar of State University of New York were recognized with the Paper of Distinction Award, Culture Track, for their paper “Sustaining indigenous textile artisans and their art in the north eastern region of India.” The award recognizes excellence in scholarship covering cross-cultural comparisons, critical theory, ethnic studies, feminist theory, ethnographic studies, and anthropological approach.

With the population of indigenous tribes around the world at a steady decline, studying textile artisans and the art forms belonging to these tribal cultures can provide insights into a side of the global textile industry which is still relatively untouched by commercialization. Dias’ research presents an ethnographic study conducted on the lived experiences of indigenous women textile artisans in the state of Meghalaya, India. The results uncovered a profound connection that the artisans shared with their traditional textile art forms, such as silk rearing, spinning, dyeing and weaving. Furthermore, recent government support, artisans’ personal intention to revive the traditional art form, and ingenuity employed in every step of the production process, drove the sustenance of the artisans’ livelihood and their art form. An interpretive explanation provides evidence for the connection between, and the sustenance of, the artisan and their art.

Kristen Morris holds her two award certificates.
Kristen Morris

Rising Star Award

Kristen Morris, an assistant professor, is the recipient of the 2019 ITAA Rising Star Award. This award is intended for untenured junior faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, research or scholarly work, and service that is commensurate with their faculty appointment. Morris joined the CSU faculty this year from the University of Missouri, where she spent the previous four years.

Morris’ research is driven by one core question: How can researchers increase all apparel users’ health and wellbeing through the design of apparel products? She focuses on addressing the unique apparel needs of underserved target markets; enhancing the functional performance of apparel; and advancing design and product development processes thorough user-centered design to meet users’ needs. Her scholarship also involves creative design, and she has had 20 design pieces exhibited in juried venues including the ITAA where she received 8 design awards. Morris also received the ITAA Award for Creative and Innovative Employment of Techniques in 2018.

Sustainable design award

Morris is also the winner of the 2019 Educators for Socially Responsible Apparel Practices – ESRAP – Award for Sustainable Design. This award recognizes excellence in design development that is focused on issues of sustainability through the selection of materials, processes, and outcomes.  This may include sustaining and improving the well-being of people, the processes that enhance sustainability, and design choices that sustain the environment.

A model wearing Morris' aqua colored active wear garments.
Morris’ garments from Adaptive Active

Adaptive Active, the award winning design, reflects the need for activewear that is inclusive of people living with disabilities and reflects how people with disabilities are physically active individuals. The design consists of three separate activewear garments including a vest, shell, and jumper, with all three garments having features that make putting on and removing the clothing easier. For example, the lower half of the vest is removable for people who are in a seated position. The shoulder seam of the jumper unsnaps to create a larger armhole, and the shell secures with magnets at each shoulder. Morris then used body scans of a fit model in both standing and seated positions to develop half-scale dress forms. Patterns were draped on the half-scale forms and digitized into Adobe Illustrator where the laser cut embellishments were added. Final patterns were increased to full-scale in Illustrator, laser cut, and constructed using industrial sewing techniques.

The Department of Design and Merchandising is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.