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Product, then procurement: MUST

My Take | July 24, 2015 | By:

Mary Hennessy, president of Industrial Fabrics Association International, has provided this guest editorial.

Something very exciting and potentially game-changing is occurring in the military market: IFAI members will soon have the opportunity to get into the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) supply pipeline before contracts and specifications are issued. It’s called MUST—Military Uniform System Technology. The initial demonstration and proof of concept of MUST is being tested and validated over the next six months, designed to show how the specialty fabrics industry can provide credible, timely and accurate information to the U.S. military about currently available commercial fabrics and accessories.

The potential benefits of reversing the process are clear. It will:

  • Give the military access to information about the most up-to-date and innovative products available
  • Shorten the time between design and fulfillment, up to 12–18 months
  • Reduce the number of competing specs between the services
  • Create synergy between the military and industry
  • Ensure that troops will be outfitted with the best gear, quickly, efficiently and potentially more economically

This is in the works through a grant awarded to Dr. Maureen MacGillivray, professor of apparel merchandising and design at Central Michigan University (our cover story this issue). Dr. MacGillivray, chair of IFAI’s Advanced Textile Products Division, is working with IFAI and AdvanTech to develop and populate a database of companies and products that could be considered by DLA and DOD. (AdvanTech is a service provider with extensive experience in providing technology for sourcing.) This is the first project for IFAI’s Military Division, and a great way for companies to work together on something with the potential to greatly increase access to the military market.

I encourage you to participate. This MUST demonstration will work only if there is good participation and support from our industry. Getting involved is easy: just visit the MUST web portal and submit your product specifications.

Don’t worry about privacy. Your login is PIN-protected, and users at DLA and DOD are required to submit login and password. Your information is protected by three layers of security, in a well-tested process. A similar method has been used for state DOTs; they have been able to see specifications for road construction fabrics, and it has proved a successful strategy to expand that market.

If your company supplies fabric, uniforms, cold or hot weather gear, workout clothing, back packs, sleeping bags, equipment covers and bags, tents, fasteners, webbing, zippers or other products in demand by the military, Berry compliant or not, please visit the website and enter your product information.

There is no charge. This is simply another way that IFAI is working to expand business opportunities throughout our industry. Thanks to Dr. MacGillivray, doing business with the military just got easier.


Maureen MacGillivray, Ph.D., is professor of apparel merchandising and design at Central Michigan University, working with product developers to design and test functional apparel—and with students to teach them that “functional design is multidisciplinary, with the user at the very center of that design process.” Companies come to the lab to test products in development, and students are often involved in helping with testing and evaluation. “It’s great for students as a learning opportunity,” says MacGillivray, “and for companies because they’ve got this ready population of consumers.”

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