A Child's Canvas
The concept for this design was to utilize the Frankie Dress as the canvas to experiment with various digitally created prints co-designed with children. The collaboration with children, specifically this design with one child, Mavis, allowed for the inclusion and participation of her wants and needs through her creative thought. Frankie Welch as a textile designer collaborated with her clients, as well as companies to design unique prints that were tools of branding and identity. The digital print was created from a coloring sheet abstracted from Welch’s 1970 Cherry Blossom Scarf Pattern that Mavis colored, along with the writing of her name.
Allowing Mavis to design her dress was a creative explosion and allowed for the child to have agency in expressing themselves through dress. Children’s lives are constructed by their caregivers and social constructs outside their control. They are a hidden voice with creative ideas demanding to be heard. In the current climate of social and cultural upheaval, we as a society should break our toxic cycle of projecting our constructs onto the next generation and allow children to be the boss of their body or at least how they choose to dress. This design perspective is a new approach that is ready to be further explored.
Genderless clothing has recently emerged as a trend and even new standard in fashion (Segalov, 2020). The term “genderless” can also refer to “agender,” “gender fluidity,” or “gender neutral,” which refers to the state of being without a clear gender identity (Robinson, 2019) and allows the wearer to use products to create styles according to individual personality and taste from a neutral perspective (Kim, Cho, & Park, 2022).
User-centered design aids in ensuring the needs and wants of the end user are satisfied and guide the design process (Morris, Park, & Sarkar, 2017). A survey of 262 parents collected in June 2021 included an open-ended question regarding frustrations in children’s clothing, many responses described the “financial burden of not being able to hand down clothing” between children of different genders and “wishing children’s clothing weren’t so gendered.” In addition, there was a call out by respondents regarding closures, more specifically the frustration of zippers and buttons on children’s clothing that prevent the child from dressing themselves. Therefore, rooted in Bye’s (2010), problem-based design research through user-centered design, this project began with the identified problem of creating genderless children’s clothing considering the agency of the child to dress themselves.
Graduate Design Mentorship
Rush Tok Project - soon to come!
Undergraduate Design Mentorship
At the University of Georgia, there is a program to entice undergraduates to engage in faculty-mentored research called the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. I greatly enjoy mentoring students in design scholarship through this program utilizing either historical inquiry or user-centered design theories. These semester projects enhance students' design skills and knowledge along with their portfolios. Below are a selection of projects I have mentored, showing the creative design process along with a briedf writte up by the student. In the Spring, CURO hosts a symposium for students to present their research. Included below is also the powerpoint deck.
Add a Little Bit of Spice
Pierce Pittman class of 2021
This design research project employs a historically informed analysis as a framework to examine scarf prints from Alexandria, VA based designer Frankie Welch, to inform design practices. This project incorporates historic artifacts for examination, inspiration and idea generation (Parsons, 2015) to then design and construct a modern day garment. Using Frankie Welch as inspiration helped to structure how the student would execute his design process as a first time designer. Welch provided a rich collection to draw inspiration from, specifically her transition from large-scaled, bold prints to smaller-scaled tossed prints, shown in Figure 1 prints for the spice company, McCormick in the late 1970s.
I'm Diggin' It
Sara Ros class of 2021
Frankie Welch was an exceptional entrepreneur, collaborating with various organizations and businesses throughout her nearly 40-year career. She was commissioned to design prints, scarves, and garments in her bold, unique textile designs. Her 1976 commissioned McDonald’s scarf was released and soon merchandised widely into several accessories and garments (Callahan, 2022). After working with the Welch private collection and viewing her wide array of corporate merchandise and design, the McDonald’s Frankie Dress and scarf mesmerized the student. These historic artifacts were such a statement of capitalism and integrated into the U.S. culture. Sara wanted to play up the hilarity of such a system that has brought with it such problems.
After narrowing the inspiration, Sara quickly got to work in Lectra’s Print software designing several adaptations using the iconic arches of the McDonald’s logo. She created three different versions of the print with four colorways each. Next, she utilized a Mutoh sublimation printer to heat transfer strike-offs of my prints on several 100% polyester and 95/5 poly/spandex fabrics. Sara landed on a 100% heavy polyester satin for my final printed fabric. At the same time as experimenting with the print fabrication, she was prototyping several design versions, playing with the belt and wrapping/cinching effect on the Frankie Dress.
To gain more insight into the students' work and CURO presentations, here is the powerpoint presentation given by Pierce and Sara in April 2021.
The Beauty of Plurality
Emma Ryals class of 2022
The research purpose was to design for an underserved market that would not typically be targeted through the industry standard of mass production. The traditional design process used in the fashion industry does not center the actual user, but the assumption of what the consumer needs and wants (McAndrews and Brooks, 2020). However, the user-centered design process allows for designers to center the user to create appropriate products (Morris, Park, & Sarkar, 2017). Traditionally, there has been a gap in the childrenswear market for parents that are looking for genderless clothing. The goal was to serve expectant parents not wanting to know the gender, practical parents choosing to save clothes for future children, or parents of boy/girl twins. Research into traditional childrenswear exposed the common uses of words, motifs, colors, and materials that place the child in distinctive categories and imply differences between the futures of boys and girls. Because of this, Emma carefully chose specific design details that aligned with her design problem and inquiry. As someone who will soon be entering the industry, Emma believes she has the power to be a change agent in how clothing is designed to include more people and shift consumers' perceptions from a stereotypical market to a more inclusive one.