Textiles and apparel play an important role in everyone’s daily life – from clothing to the textiles that surround us in our homes, cars, businesses, public spaces, and even in the outdoors – and in the global economy. According to Fashion United, the global apparel market in 2018 was valued at $3 trillion, employed 58 million people and accounted for 2 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. In the United States, the domestic market is valued at $386 billion and employs 1.8 million people, 79% of whom work for apparel retailers.
The fashion industry focuses on culturally creative and diverse products and has potential to cultivate small businesses in Louisiana and across the nation. There has been an increase in the number of fashion entrepreneurs in Louisiana. Many graduates of the department have started their own businesses in apparel design and fashion merchandising.
The Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising prepares students to enter this vast and changing world through creativity and an eye to the future. Among the many innovations in the department is the development of a Digital Design Technology Hub to provide students and faculty with the latest technology used in the apparel industry. Starting with the fall semester of 2017, students can digitally design a garment and fit it on a 3-D computer-generated avatar.
The new computer classroom, together with the department’s 3-D and 4-D body scanner (4-D adds the capability of recording the dimension of body movement), will also allow students to create their designs, obtain a body scan of their model, print a pattern scaled to the model’s figure and then construct their garments. They will even be able to design and print fabrics specifically for their garments on a new textile printer. Student works are shown to the public every spring in the Fashion Association’s annual student fashion show.
Textile scientists investigate natural and synthetic organic polymers used in textile materials, together with preparation of sustainable composites made of plant-derived polymers and fibers. The cultural and historical significance of textiles and apparel is also extremely important. The department houses the LSU Textile and Costume Museum. The museum's holdings are global in scope and include prehistoric and ethnic textiles and garments as well as contemporary high fashions and high-tech textiles. The museum supports the teaching and research efforts of faculty and students. Special collections within the museum preserve a vital part of local, state and regional history. The museum's LSU collection documents innumerable aspects of the university's unique history. Its Louisiana collection includes Native American and Acadian textile artifacts, inaugural garments of previous governors and their families, Red Cross attire used during the Katrina recovery effort, and post-World War II feed sack clothing. The university recently provided new physical space to the museum where it will have a much larger public exhibition gallery with a dedicated entrance.
The Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising works to expand its scope and continue to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed in the contemporary job market. Graduates are sought after to fill design and merchandising management positions in the fashion industry. Many students after participating in national and international internships choose to stay in Louisiana to use their skills and increase the recognition of Louisiana as an important player in the fashion world.