Students at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently teamed up to create product concepts exploring the use of advanced fibers and technology, and the projects hint at what might be in store for the footwear business. Three students from each school were selected to join the program.
The initiative was in collaboration with the nonprofit Advanced Functional Fabrics of America. The participants also developed marketing strategies to accompany the projects.
“This workshop validates the benefits of bringing FIT and MIT students together. For this specific workshop, they explored the possibilities of advanced knitting and 3-D printing,” said Joanne Arbuckle, deputy to the president for industry partnerships at FIT. “As the fashion industry becomes more and more dependent on advanced textiles, students who have the experience this workshop has provided will prove to be the industry’s next leaders.”
Over two weeks, the students visited both campuses and participated in workshops, as well as learning and mentoring sessions. The students held presentations at FIT’s campus last week to showcase their completed projects. Among concepts demonstrated: an item that — by adjusting the straps — could be worn as a long dress or apron, and a color-changing garment.
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Given the textiles’ versatility, footwear companies might borrow these best practices and develop products that are multifunctional and durable, ultimately resulting in a more sustainable industry over time. This appeared to be a priority for these students, suggesting the next generation of designers will be focused on eco-friendly materials and production.
Reflecting upon their experiences, the students said the focus on entrepreneurship and inspiration were the main benefits and draws. The students also said the capability to maximize on the strengths and resources of the academic institutions were highlights.
Veronica Apsan, an FIT graduate and fashion design major with a specialization in sportswear, said that the schools’ partnership signaled the importance of collaboration within the industry: “Putting together our talents is truly the future.”
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