Alumni Stories

Jessica Amaral

Fashion Design

Senior Technical Director for Gap, Inc.
The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago


My education was not solely fashion design-based, which made me prepared for a career in technical design. Learning how to make patterns, correct patterns, and construct garments prepared me to do that for a living. I was always the student that liked sewing clothes more than drawing them, so a career in technical design was perfect for me. Jessica Amaral , Senior Technical Director for Gap, Inc. Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design, 2004 , The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago

Senior Technical Director for Gap, Inc.

Jessica Amaral is a senior technical director for Gap, Inc, where she is a liaison between the design and production departments. “I look at my job as the engineer of fashion. I take the designer’s sketch and relay every bit of information to our vendors so that we can have a 3D garment. That means patterns, measurements, and fittings are all things that I do on a daily basis.” She works one-on-one with overseas vendors to ensure proper construction, execution, and fit.

Prior to working for Gap, Jessica was an intern for Betsey Johnson girls knits and swim. She also worked in technical design for Ralph Lauren women's sweaters and knits and Brooks Brothers girls and toddler girls’ swim and sweaters.

She says that a typical work day includes addressing emails from vendors regarding print and pattern layouts or color approvals. “Then, depending on the day, I will prep all of our fit samples (steam and measure) for a fitting with production, merchants, and designers. Our fittings on a live model can last anywhere from one to four hours depending on the season. We fit our samples on the model to ensure a perfect fit and quality according to our Gap standards.”

Jessica mentions that as a technical designer, she applies patternmaking techniques to create a better overall fit for the customer. “We are constantly creating, and constantly working. I've managed my time by ensuring that I also make my personal life a priority. Giving yourself time off from work and leaving at a normal time allows me to be better at my job and allows me to continue to love my job.” She adds that nothing good comes without commitment—and that she knew that when she started her job that she’d be working long hours, taking trips overseas, and sleeping in factories. “I chose the path of sweaters and swim, which are two very different animals in the fashion industry. Sweaters are not constructed like every other garment on the market, therefore it took a lot of dedication and research to learn the ins and outs of sweater manufacturing.”

She states that nearly every industry has its own road blocks, but overcoming them makes accomplishing a goal feel even better. “I believe that in addition to overall look and aesthetic, a customer comes back to a store for the fit. If a customer loves the way a garment fits, they will continue to return to that store because you make them feel good about themselves. This is my goal and I work everyday to make the best fitting garments so that our customers feel great living in our clothes.”

Jessica was excited to see the benefits of her work while traveling abroad. “There is always a language barrier, but what breaks that barrier is the ability to do the same work, and the ability to utilize the machines in the exact same way despite any language barriers. When I realized I could work across the globe and share a common goal with people that didn't speak my language, I knew that [my work had paid off].”

Jessica, who in 2004 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from The Illinois Institute of Art—Chicago, says that her education provided a strong background in patternmaking and garment construction—showing her many sides of the industry. “I was

always the student that liked sewing clothes more than drawing them, so a career in technical design was perfect for me and the education [I received] prepared me for a career in either design or technical design.” 

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