Faculty: Donna Gustavsen


A graduate of RISD Apparel Design in 1970, Donna Gustavsen has been teaching in the Apparel Design Dept. for twelve years as a full-time faculty member and has been Acting Department Head/Department Head for the past four years. She has worked to bring new opportunities to the students of the Apparel Design Department. Special initiatives include:

In fall 2007, through the sponsorship of the Italian Trade Commission, an interdepartmental initiative gave Apparel seniors the opportunity to collaborate with Textile seniors and graduate students to create apparel collections. In 2008, this collaboration evolved into an interdepartmental course, Fabric to Form.

In 2009, students were invited to redesign basic cardigan sweaters for the GAP. Students from numerous departments participated, and the final 50 sweaters were exhibited and sold at the GAP Innovation flagship store in New York.

This spring, the Apparel Design Dept., along with the Textile, Jewelry, and Light Metals Departments, will be partnering with ELLE Magazine. Work of twenty-five RISD students will be featured online and in ELLE magazine, as well as in a fashion show during fashion week at Lincoln Center in NYC.

The Apparel Design senior internship program and recruitment events have been expanded, and continue to offer students opportunities to intern with design studios in New York and the west coast, as well as international opportunities.

Ms. Gustavsen has worked as an apparel designer for over twenty-five years. Initially starting her career in bridal design, she has designed children’s wear for the Baby Dior and Mia Bambini lines, as well as sportswear and dresses for the Susan Bristol Co. Working within her independent design studio, she has done design work for diverse markets and clients, such as The Limited, Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Galleria Sport, etc.

One of her major areas of interest has been in functional apparel design. She designed active sportswear and technical outerwear for Reebok International, developing new fabric innovations and extreme weather protective clothing. Contoured biking clothing for Rhode Gear USA and technical ski knitwear for Skane Ltd. were also among her design projects.

Her latest focus has been in soft medical products. She designed an athletic mask for cold induced asthmatics for Aeolus Medical. Her sling/shirt design for shoulder injuries requiring immobilization is in the patent process. Future projects include research and design of new hospital gown concepts.

Donna Gustavsen

Donna Gustavsen

Associate Professor

  • BFA, Rhode Island School of Design


  • APPAR-3141
  • APPAR-3140
  • APPAR-3122
Apparel Foreground 2
Jenny Lai, 10, Messenger