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May Chae

Associate Professor, Art and Design

Life Hall
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I am the head of Fashion Design and Merchandising (FADM). I have been at Montclair since 2016, having first taught at the University of Idaho and second taught at Marymount University. My background and experience in research and teaching are embraced with community-engaged pedagogies, scholarship, and project work. I continuously incorporate my research into teaching for the benefit of learning outcomes that can result in fashion design students being more creative, engaged, and critical thinkers.

Teaching at MSU:
ARTX 422 Draping
ARTX 409 Fashion Internship
ARTX 398 Fashion Product Development
ARTX 345 Fashion Study Abroad (2023 London; 2018 Florence + Milan)
ARTX 330 Digital Applications for Fashion
ARTX 322 Flat Pattern

Professional Memberships:
International Textile and Apparel Association (ITAA)
Costume Society of America (CSA)
American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS)


Research and Scholarship:

Adaptive/inclusive clothing design for people with physical disabilities
Community engagement pedagogy and research
Functional design
Fiber Arts
Fashion technology
Creative design and juried exhibitions
Cotton Incorporated grants

Research Projects

Sustainable adaptive/inclusive clothing design for people with physical disabilities (2022-2023 CETL fellowship)

My current community-engaged research/teaching project is focusing on an exploratory study about inclusive clothing design for seniors with mobility issues. This particular research/teaching project is to assist seniors with limited disposable incomes in their clothing and dressing through sustainable practices (e.g., upcycling garments) embedded throughout the creative design process. Under my guidance and mentorship, fashion design students will be directly working with senior volunteers at the First Montclair House during the upcoming semester to solve problems associated with clothing and affordability and create prototypes reflected by the needs and wants of the seniors. Consequently, those prototypes will be showcased at the FADM annual fashion show.

Adaptive Cotton Clothing for People With Physical Disabilities (Cotton Grant $10,000)

The purpose of this research project was to develop prototypes of garments that met the needs and wants of male and female adults (18 and older) with physical and mobility impairments. I believe that adaptive clothing could enhance the quality of life for the wearers by allowing them to move freely and confidently and to look good while doing so.

This research project was conducted in an upper-level fashion design studio class on flat pattern techniques. This class was a key part of the curriculum because it taught creative ways to design and make adaptive clothing, the most challenging aspect of which is choosing the right fabric. Fabrics for adaptive clothing are important for ensuring comfort, fit, flexibility, and match. Therefore, I selected high-performance cotton fabrics (e.g., TransDRY®, STORM COTTON®, TOUGH COTTON®) with moisture-wicking properties to meet the needs of people with physical and mobility impairments.

Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, students remotely presented their final prototype garments to the class. The work of each student was evaluated by six external reviewers: Jenna Caccavo, senior trend forecaster at Cotton Inc.; Amy Gurowitz, female interview participant; Gary Buchheister, male interview participant; Janice Smolowitz, Dean, School of Nursing (RN, Ph.D., EdD, DNP, ANP-BC); Courtney Reinisch, Professor, School of Nursing (DNP, FNP-BC); and Abby Lillethun, Department Chair of Art and Design, Fashion Studies Professor. The judging criteria were the FEA aspects of adaptive cotton apparel described earlier. After the final presentation, the top three winners in each category and one additional winner for best craftsmanship for both men’s and women’s garments were announced.