WE OFTEN THINK OF FASHION and envision models, runways, red carpets or designer labels. What if it could impact the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness? What if fashion could create garments for patients who are limited by medical devices or treatments?

Texas Woman’s Remy Odukomaiya and her students from the Mass Production Techniques course are doing just that. They’re smashing fashion boundaries and designing apparel for underserved communities.

In 2022, Odukomaiya’s students created outfits designed specifically for the needs of those experiencing homelessness.

The 2023 class crafted clothing for children in prolonged hospital treatments who were encumbered by medical devices and equipment. It’s not the glitz and glam of runway shows, but it’s a lot more rewarding.

The Mass Production Techniques class visited Scottish Rite for Children in Dallas, one of the top pediatric orthopedic centers in the nation, where severe scoliosis patients reside to undergo treatments. To heal the spine, a child is fitted with a halo, which is braced around the chest and shoulders and bolted into the skull.

Because the clothes kids love to wear like sweatshirts and sports jerseys are next to impossible to put on over the halo and brace, the project required a fundamental shift in the design and patterning of their clothing.

“It’s a whole different level of thinking,” says Odukomaiya. “It’s not only about the aesthetics, it’s about functionality. We’re designing it, and we’re asking what the function is. Is it useful? Is it needed?”

And this may just be the tip of the fashion design iceberg. How many other communities are out there and in need of the creative approaches from TWU’s Fashion Design and Merchandising students?