A textiles professor works to make the clothing and accessories industries more inclusive.
Katherine Annett-Hitchcock, associate professor in the Wilson College of Textiles, is working to ensure that the fashion industry becomes more thoughtful about how to design clothes and accessories for a wider array of people. Last spring, she partnered with Kathryn Wozniak, an assistant professor of industrial design, to mentor students who produced clothes for a fashion show held by the N.C. Spinal Cord Injury Association.
At the heart of Annett-Hitchcock’s effort is the concept of “universal design.” It’s the notion that products and spaces can and should be designed to fit the needs of people who have varying physical and intellectual abilities. She offers the example of a shirt with an adaptable sleeve to leave an amputee with the choice to reveal or not reveal the limb. Universal design was developed as a concept by Ron Mace ’66, an architect who founded the Center for Universal Design in the College of Design.
Sabrina Martin ’21 and Mary Grace Wilder ’22, two students Annett-Hitchcock mentored, are set to launch a fashion collection that offers adaptive clothing options to address many needs, including those stemming from Parkinson’s disease and Down syndrome.