Desai: Apparel-making technology research should be advanced

Krupali Desai

I’ve heard multiple times that almost all our clothing, shoes and bags are made by people who aren’t being paid a living wage. So I got to thinking: How is it that we have made so much technological progress in areas such as food packaging and computer manufacturing, and still most of our outfits are made one by one with long hours of tedious labor and sewing?

I looked up where and how most automated sewing research is being carried out and was surprised to find how few there were. Solar cells, on the other hand, are researched at a staggering number of universities. While solar car technology is immensely important, with a limited supply of gas and the wonderful possibility of us breathing clean air, apparel manufacturing also has its potential benefits.

Making economical industrial-scale sewing machines that can easily change sewing patterns to match the evergreen styles in fashion and various sizes still remains a technological standard to establish.

As quality clothing becomes efficient to manufacture, companies can produce more at a low cost. This would lead to a higher gross domestic product of countries, bettering our economy and improving the economy of developing countries. This would enable governments of developing countries to improve education and shelter for children, for instance.

People previously in labor-intensive jobs that didn’t pay well can be moved to higher-paying technological, marketing, or creative departments. Jobs in areas like distribution, maintenance and advertising could open up as demand for apparel goes up and prices decline, combating unemployment.

With an outstanding program in industrial and mechanical engineering, as well as fashion design and apparel merchandising, Iowa State would be a fitting place to do research in this area.

Machines able to cut and stitch elaborate designer clothing and accessories on a large scale without the use of a lot of labor would be an important breakthrough in the realm of clothing manufacturing. Inventions of equipment such as those that attach various buttons or embellishments like sequins to clothing and shoe soles would tremendously advance the multi-billion dollar fashion industry.