Research at the intersection of sustainability, technology, and inclusivity

Dr. Kirsten Schaefer is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at KITE, the research arm of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in the University Health Network, and a sessional instructor at the School of Fashion at Toronto Metropolitan University. She specializes in creative problem-solving and textile applications for healthcare and wellbeing, including developing textile sensors for monitoring and treatment. Kirsten’s doctoral research focused on how 3D knitting technology impacts the textile & apparel design process. She carries this with her into her current research, which engages 3D knit technologies for developing healthcare-related textiles.

With a background in interdisciplinary, functional, and inclusive design, including a self-produced modular bridal collection in 2011 and an international award-winning post-mastectomy sleepwear co-design in 2012, Kirsten believes in facing fashion challenges through innovative design solutions. She has applied this approach to her MA research, creating bridal wear that merges zero-waste pattern cutting (producing a bold, unique aesthetic without fabric waste) with a modular design (enabling post-wedding garment restyling) to maximize garment use and eliminate waste. She believes that sustainability is a perpetual negotiation between the designer and all available resources; technology is changing the way all industries operate and how they operate with each other. A sustainable, ethical approach to fashion requires collaboration, innovation, and an open mind to be willing to take great leaps and achieve a better fashion system for the future.

Kirsten has presented her research at multiple local and international academic conferences, winning multiple awards for her collaborative research efforts. Recently, her collaborative, interdisciplinary project, The Right Fit: A Clothing Needs Assessment of Women with Plus-Size Bodies (20+), earned accolades at the International Textile & Apparel Association's 2017 annual conference, receiving the Alvanon Research Award.

Interested in collaborating? Start a conversation at kirsten.schaefer@gmail.com