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Functional apparel designer says ‘Technology is your friend’

Industry News, News | October 20, 2016 | By:

mauerpicMaureen MacGillivray, Ph.D., tells her students to think of their fashion designs as “product development” and to get used to wearing lots of hats.

MacGillivray presented an overview of what a functional apparel designer does Oct. 20 at the 2016 IFAI Expo in Charlotte, N.C.

MacGillivray’s work at the Center for Merchandising and Design Technology, Central Michigan University, requires her to take a multidisciplinary approach, including the knowledge of biologists, chemists, engineers and social scientists. And she always emphasizes the importance of involving the end user in “getting it right.”

MacGillivray recently had the opportunity to redesign a surgical gown that will be Ebola resistant. The company who approached her saw no need for her to talk to doctors who actually wear the gowns, but MacGillivray insisted in doing so before she moved forward with the project.

Aside from end user information, MacGillivray says her university department is fortunate to have access to lots of technology, including a thermal sweating manikin, an environmental chamber, a sweating guard hotplate, a 3 D printer and a 3 D body scanner. All of these items help student understand that “technology is your friend,” says MacGillivray.

Despite this technology, students still need to work hard on the basics of sewing, she says, because this is a skill that they don’t necessarily have when they begin college.

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