For young designers, the chance to work with one of the biggest names in fashion is one thing. But to help design a product for them that fills a gap is a dream. Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) grad Jessie Croll is living that dream as a product designer for lululemon.
The 27-year-old is a long-distance trail runner, which requires her to be self-supported and bring along water and nutrition for several hours.
“At a certain point in my training, I started thinking about how strange it was to have a system for supporting a water reservoir on your back and a separate system for your breast support on the front, realizing that most products on the market had been designed for men and hadn’t considered sports bras to be a part of the layering strategy at all,” says Croll.
“Thanks to a lot of collaboration between bag designers, bra developers, and researchers; what started as a passion project evolved into a very real and functional product.”
The final product, called the Enlite Hydraffinity Vest, is now on the market.
Re-thinking fashion is an everyday occurrence for Croll and her colleagues.
“On any given day I could be helping conduct research, building 3D models to explore design ideas, or creating physical prototypes to test in the lab,” she says.
Graduating from the Technical Apparel Design program at KPU’s Wilson School of Design in 2015 helped Croll unlock the opportunity to work at lululemon. Her journey started with a little inspiration while she was working in architectural design.
“I was first introduced to the Whitespace Innovation team while working for the architecture and design firm responsible for the interiors of the Innovation Workshop at lululemon's head office,” she says.
She chose the Wilson School of Design because it was career specific and gave her the opportunity to learn from industry experts.
“During my first semester at KPU, I had the opportunity to put my work in front of industry leaders from lululemon's Whitespace Innovation team. This exposure ultimately turned into a research assistant opportunity which then transitioned into a full-time design role on the Innovation Team.”
And Croll has advice to anyone thinking about working in technical apparel:
“Use every opportunity to embrace emerging technologies in your work – the industry is changing so quickly so being adaptable to new ways of working will lead to opportunities for interesting projects and collaborations.”
Learn more about the Technical Apparel Design program here.
Story by Sucheta Singh