CSU product development seniors showcase their research and prototypes in the Inclusive Innovations Exhibit

Students and reception attendees mingle and look at posters

Seniors studying product development in the apparel and merchandising major in the Colorado State University Department of Design and Merchandising showcased senior projects with a reception and awards ceremony in December. The work was part of the AM 475 course and served as the senior capstone experience. Kristen Morris, assistant professor in Design and Merchandising, led the course.

The project

Students were tasked with identifying a specific population or target market in need of adaptable clothing including those with prosthetic limbs, arthritis, relying on a wheelchair for mobility, diabetes in need of injection access, visual impartments, and others. Through research, students gained a better understanding of the challenges these populations face with non-adaptive clothing.

After identifying target market needs, students created adaptive design solutions making clothing more accessible to their specified market. Students researched existing market solutions and competitors.  As the students gained a better understanding of adaptive design principles, they also researched appropriate materials to accompany the designs.

Students shared designs through flat technical drawings that included trims, closures, and an outline for basic construction. Students also created the garments in CLO3D, a computer program that allows for 3D renderings of apparel designs.

Students then went on to create technical packages detailing how their adaptive clothing line would go into production including details on materials, pricing and costing, and construction.

Finally, students prototyped one garment or developed samples of one innovative feature of their adaptive line.

Inclusive Innovations Exhibit

Funding for this event was awarded in whole through a competitive grant presented to the Department of Design and Merchandising by Cotton Incorporated.

Morris shared that the grant from Cotton Incorporated opened a lot of possibilities for the course:

“The purpose of the exhibit was to share knowledge with the public and campus community about how cotton performance technologies can add value to clothing for various users, particularly those living with disabilities. The project adds value to the existing product development curriculum by furthering students’ awareness and understanding of cotton fiber and advanced cotton performance technologies as they prepare to enter the apparel industry.”

Morris continued, “Cotton is well suited to address the needs of people in adaptive apparel because it is naturally hypoallergenic and soft, making it a sensory favorable fiber. Furthermore, cotton performance technologies may help overcome practical and aesthetic obstacles experienced by diverse users with their clothing. This project was a catalyst for students to think inclusively about design and about cotton as a barrier-breaking fiber in adaptive apparel.”

Supplies for student prototyping were also provided by the grant from Cotton Incorporated, minimizing the financial burden for students.

Award recipients, judges, Dean Lise Youngblade, and Assistant Professor Kristen Morris
Award recipients, judges, Dean Lise Youngblade, and Assistant Professor Kristen Morris

Award winners

It was a special night as students from the senior class won awards for inclusive design and excellence in prototyping. Check out the websites created by the students to learn more about their senior projects.

1st Place – Inclusive Design – Jared Tarzian
Jared Tarzian created a line of clothing adapted for wheelchair users incorporating darts that reshaped the fit of the pants and a cropped jacket to avoid sitting on the fabric and restricting mobility.

2nd Place – Inclusive Design – Dylan Frost
Dylan Frost designed adaptive apparel for people who depend on a wheelchair for mobility. He used in-depth market research to inform design choices around material durability and fit.

3rd Place – Inclusive Design – Gabe Murray
Gabe Murray developed a line of apparel centered on dressing ease and comfort for people with prosthetic limbs.

Honorable Mention – Inclusive Design – Emily Vittorio
Emily Vittorio created a line of trendy resort wear for people with prosthetic limbs, prioritizing style with garment utility.

Honorable Mention – Inclusive Design – Abby McIntire
Abby McIntire created a line of fashionable workwear for people with arthritis or conditions limiting their fine motor skills emphasizing ease in getting dressed.

Excellence in Prototyping – Quatia Thompson
Quatia Thompson drafted her prototype pattern by hand, developed custom graphics for her sample jacket, and dyed her own fabric for prototyping this project.

Excellence in Prototyping – James Ewsuk
James Ewsuk created a line of clothing for people with visual impairments. His prototype consisted of a pair of pants with tremendous fit and a braille garment tag created with a 3D printer.

The judges

Morris secured a panel of judges to evaluate the students. Evaluations were conducted by leading industry professionals and people identifying as having a disability. Thank you to the following judges who provided feedback to the students and assigned awards for the evening:

Heath Olson, Vice President, Company Stores-West at Tommy Hilfiger

Rustin Hughes, Founder of B-Bold Adaptive Sports

Katy Fetters, World Cerebral Palsy and Founder of CPStrong

Halimat Ipaye, doctoral candidate in the Department of Textile and Apparel Management at the University of Missouri and McNair Scholar

Hallie Kupfer, Materials Developer at Smartwool and Colorado State University Master’s student

Savannah Boyle, Colorado State University Master’s student, who helped develop the course project and final exhibition

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