Fashion students win top award at international conference

Team leader Rachel Dugger, fashion design graduate, models the Nebulous look. (Photo Courtesy of Yingying Wu, assistant professor of fashion design)

Three Kansas State graduates received the Optitex Technology Award during the 2020 International Textile and Apparel Association annual conference.

K-State students previously won this award in 2017.

The recipients of this year’s awards, Rachel Dugger, Dani Hall and Kelly Grogan are recent fashion design graduates. Dugger and Hall graduated in Dec. 2019 and Grogan in May 2020.

The award the K-State graduate students applied for was based on the technology used to create an outfit, Grogan said.

Assistant professor of fashion design Yingying Wu said in the past, the acceptance rate for showing a design during the conference was between 30 and 40 percent.

“ITAA conference is a really internationally recognized and prestigious conference and is very hard to even get inside the design exhibition,” Wu said. “Our design abstract was accepted by ITAA in June. Then in August, we were informed that [the students’] design was accepted to the conference, and then 2 weeks ago we were informed that their look was selected to be the recipient of the award.”

The students used 2D digital pattern drafting and 3D virtual simulation and textile digital printing technology. They mostly used Optitex, which is one of the most cutting-edge technologies, Grogan said.

“We were using them as part of a class at K-State, but prior to that specific course we had not used them before, and we would not have been able to use this technology if Academy Sports had not sponsored this class,” Grogan said.

Wu said Academy Sports provides support for the students.

The Optitex Technology Award went to their Nebulous design, which was based on a prompt from Academy Sports.

“Our prompt was related to activewear, and we were given a color scheme to go off of,” Grogan said. “We choose to go more everyday-wear, but we wanted to make garments that would still be wearable for activities like hiking.”

The design goal was for the outfit to be comfortable enough to be able to move in, hike in, climb in and not look like typical activewear.

As team captain, Dugger played a big role in the design’s mood board.

“I wanted to do a focus on hillside, calm, tranquil scenery, but also bring in some erogenous apparel but keeping comfortable and peaceful,” Dugger said.

Wu said the goal of the project was to prepare students for apparel, fashion design and production in computer technologies. She said she is very excited for the upcoming years and future submissions to the conference.

“Technology is getting even more valuable now. The industry is becoming more technology-driven due to [COVID-19] and the ease of creating 3D simulations for designers,” Dugger said.