Meet the Researcher: Dr Sahar Arshi

Dr Sahar Arshi became a research fellow in the School of Design at the University of Leeds in October, having studied and researched across the UK as well as in her native Iran.

Alongside Professor Ningtao Mao, Sahar is working on one of Future Fashion Factory’s core research themes: developing new technologies that communicate the look and feel of a fabric without the need to send a physical sample.

Dr Sahar Arshi at the University of Leeds

The project starts with Leeds University Fabric Handle Evaluation System (LUFHES), a patented technology created by Professor Mao. LUFHES evaluates and quantifies fabric tactile properties to indicate how people perceive the fabric’s look, feel, and drape. Using this system and other techniques, fabric tactile properties will be characterised and reproduced with specialist haptic technologies.

Drawing on her expertise in combining arts with computer sciences, Sahar is working on a data-driven system to determine how fabric tactile properties will be communicated with subjective touch feel of fabrics of specific group of users.

Sahar spoke to WTIN about this project and its wider impacts in depth. Read the WTIN feature

By reducing the need to send fabric swatches between buyers and suppliers worldwide, the project aims to shorten product lead times and cut waste in the product development process. It also has the power to transform e-commerce by giving online shoppers the chance to ‘feel’ a garment before placing an order.

To help develop and refine this new tool, Sahar would like to work with companies, designers, textile and fashion professionals interested in experiencing our system or having their fabrics tested, analysed and simulated. As more data fed into the process and more feedback from you, she explains, the more powerful the tool will be in providing all the right information.

With expertise and skills in artificial intelligence, mathematical modelling, and data mining, Sahar is interested in working on collaborative projects relating to data-driven design and digital communication of fabric touch feel and aesthetics. As a musician whose PhD thesis focused on creating new Persian music using artificial intelligence tools, she is excited by working in the interface between technology and creativity.

If you are interested in working with Sahar on the communication of fabric touch feel and aesthetics, or you have any idea for a project that may combine computer science with creativity in the fashion industry, Sahar would like to hear from you. Contact her at