UAPB students make garments glow with LED technology

Will Hehemann School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

IMG_8101Students of merchandising, textiles and design at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff were busy affixing light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures to fashion apparel and accessories during a recent fashion technology workshop hosted by the Arts and Science Center (ASC) for Southeast Arkansas.

Dr. Lenore Shoults, executive director for the ASC, said students entering the modern fashion industry would be at an advantage if they learned how to incorporate LED lighting into fashion design. The process involves choosing the correct batteries, soldering connections and sewing circuits using conductive thread.

Dr. Shoults presented several examples of fashion wear that incorporate LED lights, including fedoras and a shawl that emitted multiple points of light. The students then began creating their own glowing fashion apparel using fabric, LED fixtures and batteries.

“LED lighting is often used in theater and Halloween costumes, and is more frequently being incorporated in fashion shows,” Dr. Kaye Crippen, associate professor of the Merchandising, Textiles and Design (MTD) Department, said. “There are now fields called ‘smart textiles’ and ‘smart apparel.’ These textiles have internal circuits to take advanced measurements such as body temperature and heart rate.”

Ashley Smith, digital media specialist at the ASC, said knowledge of computer programming is useful in this type of design, as specific lighting effects such as glowing or twinkling require the designer to write programs that can be uploaded to a microchip.

During the workshop, Breanna Adkins, a freshman MTD major, created a floral brooch with a purple glow at its center. She said learning about LED lighting in fashion design and creating her own luminous apparel was an interesting experience.

“The workshop was a great way to encourage students to be more interested in technology used in apparel and textiles,” Dr. Crippen said. “Over the next few months, they will continue to explore more techniques to enhance clothing and accessories using this type of technology.”

Yunru Shen, instructor for the MTD program, said learning about LED lighting techniques will help students gain diverse experience in technical and design areas and prepare them for internship and job opportunities.

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