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Technology keeps Mount Mary’s fashion program on the cutting edge

More than ever, technology informs and enables the creative vision of students.

By Mount Mary University

Posted on June 4, 2018

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In today’s world of fashion, it takes more than technical skills and creativity to become a designer. Students need a high degree of technological proficiency to work, create and operate the industry tools of today.

More than ever, technology informs and enables the creative vision of students.

“We prepare our students to take their creativity and filter it through the realities of the industry,” said Jessica Frantal ’08, a tech enthusiast and Mount Mary’s newest member of the fashion faculty.

For example, when junior Ashley Duncan created a concept for a neckline and shoulder foundation of interconnected, dimensional rings, 3D printing was required to turn her idea into a unified textile pattern.

New faculty member Jessica Frantal helped senior fashion designer Ashley Duncan to produce 3D printouts of some of her design elements.

“I’m always impressed with our students – how creative, smart and savvy they are,” Frantal said. “It’s exciting to give them the tools they need to exercise their creativity.”

“I’m always impressed with our students – how creative, smart and savvy they are,” Frantal said. “It’s exciting to give them the tools they need to exercise their creativity.”

Jessica Frantal ’08
Assistant Professor, Fashion Department

On the other end of the production cycle, Merchandise Management students are using technology to address the consumer experience, using virtual reality and augmented reality to enhance the shopping experience.

“Mount Mary is small but we’re innovative,” said Trish Kuehnl of the department’s Fashion Merchandise Management program.

TECHNOLOGY BRINGS NEW DIRECTION TO INDUSTRY
There’s an upheaval in the way clothes are designed, produced and sold, creating opportunities for new ideas, said Frantal, who was a technical designer for Harley-Davidson before turning to teaching.

At the center of these changes is technology, which is an integral part of fashion in ways the average consumer doesn’t realize,” she said. “Right now is a very exciting time for the fashion industry.”

Technological advances influence every step of fashion development, from pattern design and concepting to production and functionality, and Frantal has been putting her technical knowledge to work for the students. More and more, design students are learning to code and to use CAD drafting software for pattern designs.

New faculty member Jessica Frantal incorporates technology into her own fashion designs.

“They’ll need to understand and speak the language of tech to do their jobs as designers,” Frantal said. New technology, coupled with an upheaval in conventional retailing, means that retailers are faced with the task of reinventing themselves – “most likely through technology,” Kuehnl said. Some of those technologies include virtual reality and augmented reality designed to facilitate online shopping.

“My hopes for the merchandise management program is to bring in more exposure to these different formats, especially with IKEA coming into the area. They are on the forefront of using virtual reality and augmented reality in their shopping experiences.”

SOFTWARE: VIRTUAL MODELING
A growing use of software in fashion design is 3D rendering, which lets students test out different fabrics and patterns before even sewing. This involves using Optitex software with built-in algorithms for different textile characteristics such as stretch coefficient and draping. The system virtually sews together a garment design, creating a virtual, rotatable model to highlight design issues. “There’s a huge move in the industry to 3D render first samples instead of actually sewing them,” Frantal said. “Retailers like Target now make decisions on clothing lines based on computer renderings. Using tech like this in the classroom is giving students the advantage they need to get into rewarding fashion careers.”

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