CWU News

Fashion, Function, and Fertility: Versatile Maternity Coat Wins Competition

Andrea Eklund, Central Washington University professor of Apparel, Textiles, and Andrea Eklund stands with coatMerchandising, won Best in Show for her original design at the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) conference. The competition was a double-blind, peer-reviewed competition with more than 30 design submissions.

AAFCS is an association for family and consumer sciences professionals and students—many who are educators, administrators, human service and business professionals, and consultants.

“It was amazing to be chosen,” Eklund said. “It’s nice to be validated by professionals from the apparel industry and other professors who know design.”

Eklund’s winning design is a versatile functional coat that expands through each phase of pregnancy. After childbirth it can be worn as a coat and as a baby carrier by placing an infant in the hidden front pocket.

Eklund’s design inspiration originated from her experience as a new mother. She sought a solution to the cumbersome ritual when taking her child outside in inclement weather.

“I was so uncomfortable,” Eklund said. “I would have my jacket on, then I’d have to put the carrier over it, then a blanket over the baby—it was so many layers and bulky over my jacket.”

In testing the pattern, Eklund used her infant to assure the fit and comfort of the product. Her final design is constructed of 100 percent cotton herringbone for easy cleaning and a touch of fashion—something that new moms can appreciate.

Numerous conference attendees gave Eklund positive feedback and encouraged her to patent her design. She is taking their advice and is in the process of patenting the design with the hope of selling it to a company that can add it to their line and mass produce it.

During Eklund’s tenure, she has won numerous design awards—both national and international. As a professor she brings her talents into her teaching of Apparel, Textiles, and Merchandising (ATM) students. The ATM program has a strong industry connection with the robust apparel industry in the Pacific Northwest which has many apparel corporate headquarters located between Everett and Portland. Seattle is the seventh largest apparel manufacturing center in the United States and the fourth largest in fashion design jobs.

Visit the Apparel, Textiles, and Merchandising web page to learn more about this creative and diverse program.

Pictured: Andrea Eklund stands next to her winning designs--a maternity coat and her baby.

Media contact: Dawn Alford, public affairs coordinator, 509-963-1484,