In the 23 years that Dr. Yvette Harps-Logan has been a member of the TMD faculty at URI, the thing that first attracted her to the department has remained the same. “We have a potpourri of everything!” she says. “We cover all the different components of the fashion industry and blend into other disciplines as well. It’s not just about learning to be a buyer for stores, or be a store manager. We are truly interdisciplinary.”
When Dr. Harps-Logan was going through college, she thought she was going to be a German interpreter for the U.N. She was sewing a lot of her own clothes and her friends were always telling her that she had a great fashion sense. When her language studies failed to challenge her in the way she wanted, she began to cast around for a career change. Drawing on her love of putting different clothing articles together to create a signature look, she decided maybe she could become a designer. Back then, studying fashion fell under the purview of “home economics.” Dr. Harps-Logan knew she wasn’t interested in the cooking side of that specialty. “I still don’t want to learn how to cook!” she laughs. “But the fashion side of home economics really grabbed me and held my interest.”
Her intuition proved correct, when her career change has led to a fruitful career at URI, and thousands of meaningful connections with students over the years. Her role in the department includes student advising and internship coordination. “I love seeing students bloom. I share information with them and they find a lifelong commitment and passion in their careers.”
Dr. Harps-Logan is the retailing expert on the faculty team. “It’s the business component in fashion merchandising and design,” she explains. She specializes in clothing buying preference and consumer behavior. This includes topics such as visual merchandising and window displays. But it’s not as straightforward as it might sound. “We take more chemistry than the nursing students,” Dr. Harps-Logan says. “We study psychology. And we really encourage all our students to do internships. That way they have the book theory and also the hands-on experience.”
The hands-on emphasis is something Dr. Harps-Logan models in her own research projects. She has recently teamed up with the psychology department, working with their behavioral scientists to look at consumer actions. “People buy apparel depending on their cultural values, their ethnicity, their gender, their religion, and so on,” she explains. “We are looking at the reasons why people make certain purchases.”
This year, Dr. Harps-Logan was honored with two different awards. She was declared APAW Professional Woman of the Year and also received the Faculty Excellence Award from the Multicultural Center.