Six University of Idaho students recently found themselves presenting to one of the biggest brands in the world. The apparel, textiles and design students created swimwear designs for Nike Swim – gaining real-world experience.

Sumiko Kalish, Nike Swim design director, and U of I Senior Instructor Lori Wahl challenged Wahl’s students to identify an opportunity that Nike Swim wasn’t addressing and design a product to meet that need.

Students researched Nike Swim’s strengths and weaknesses and incorporated Nike’s brand values, which focus on sustainability, engaging girls and women in sports, and inclusivity.

Olivia Chandler, Rachel Houle and Madison Machen – team Scintillate – identified a need for more style and color options for plus-size women. Daisy Blowers, Maggie Zee and Jaeda Schnuerle – team Sea & Shore – addressed the lack of paddle sport suits for young girls.

Scintillate designed a two-piece suit with an adjustable top using recycled polyester. Strap adjustments were 3D printed using UV reactive filament that changes colors when exposed to UV rays.

Sea & Shore created a one-piece shortie swimsuit using high-stretch knit and a plant-based zipper. Velcro straps open over the shoulder, and the sides include extra seams that can be ripped out to extend the size to grow with the customer.

The teams also designed complimentary deck wear using performance cotton. Scintillate used a fabric treated with Wicking Windows by Cotton, Inc. The skin-facing side of the fabric includes a printed pattern that distributes moisture for evaporation. The team flipped the fabric, putting the pattern on the outside to hide wet areas caused by a wet swimsuit.

Sea & Shore created a zero-waste cover-up made from terry cloth with snaps made from plants and recycled bottles. The snaps allow the cover-up to be adjusted to grow with the customer. When unsnapped, it can be used as a towel.

“Working with upcoming designers to see through fresh eyes opportunities for our Nike Swim consumer was really exciting,” Kalish said. “Their research was thorough and showed areas for design opportunities within sustainability, extended sizes and versatile swim.”

The project culminated with a trip to Portland, Oregon, to present final prototypes to Kalish and her team.

“The students showed up at the Nike Swim office prepared and ready to show their designs,” Kalish said. “Their digital presentations, inspiration boards and design creations came to life on our mannequins and really inspired our team.”