by Val Birk, Amy Leahy, and Diana Saiki

The fashion program is excited to share the innovative use of technology preparing students to effectively learn about, make, and sell fashion. The following are recent projects that highlight how the fashion program is "going high tech."

Apparel Design has seen great technological growth in the last couple of years with the introduction of the Go-Rio Fabric Plotter, the Lectra Plotter and 3-D modeling in the CAD course. We are so privileged to be one of the few universities to have access to this equipment. Students are now able to design and print their own fabric to use on original designs. They are also to see their fabric designs on a 3-D figure before they actually construct a garment. How exciting for the students to be able to include these advantages in their portfolios!

Fashion Merchandising Through funding from a creative teaching grant, the buying class is moving into the virtual world of Second Life® (a 3-D virtual World). A virtual boutique has been built with a kiosk available for every student ‘buyer'. This project, currently being pilot tested, provides the Fashion Merchandising students an opportunity to test their buying decisions. Although buying simulations are utilized in the classroom, these can only provide a limited experience. In the past, students in the buying course produced a buying plan for a simulated retailer, similar to the 6-month buying plan that buyers employed in the fashion industry complete. However, in the industry, professional buyers receive direct feedback on the success and adequacy of their plan from the sale of products. Students have not received this feedback. Actual sales figures weren't produced so students did not see if their plan might be successful or, how it could be adjusted to be successful when sales are not as expected (either more or less than the plan). Because of a need for an authentic working environment, the development of a virtual store environment provides an answer to the classroom limitations and adds valuable experience for students. The virtual environment has provided student ‘buyers' the opportunity to display their assortments and receive sales information to determine the success of their assortment thus providing them with a complete view of the potential success of their plan.

Even Costume History goes high tech with a recently funded project where students and fashion faculty will create an online display featuring the pieces in the Beeman Historic Costume Collection. The group will be involved with developing the online display from researching a historic theme, making a pleasing visual display and website, and creating a related education program. In this synergistic way students will gain professional experience using technology to best feature apparel and textiles in the collection and to teach others in the community and beyond fashion lessons of the past.