Fashion Theory

Journal Information
ISSN / EISSN : 1362-704X / 1751-7419
Published by: Informa UK Limited (10.1080)
Total articles ≅ 1,045
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Latest articles in this journal

Breda Luthar,
Published: 1 December 2021
This study investigates jeans use as well as the discursive practices that framed jeans-wearing in 1960s and 1970s socialist Yugoslavia. We adopt a practice theory approach that goes beyond the expressive capacity of jeans and focuses on their material and practical capacity as an epitome of cultural transformation. Practices discussed include embodied practices enabled by jeans and those that have jeans as their target, such as smuggling, dreaming, remaking, appreciation of authentic jeans and rejection of domestic substitutes, emotions about jeans, wearing jeans, and public narratives regarding jeans. We find that the significance of jeans-wearing was created by difficulty of access, the practice of semi-legal smuggling, contact with the West, and the “Italianness” of jeans. Jeans are conceptualized as a key point of connection between material and social transformation and a new structure of feeling, including the intimate experience of the body and its public presentation. We argue that the study of material artifacts as integral to certain practices helps us approach the larger systemic dimensions of (socialist) subjectivity and social transformation against the backdrop of the symbolic boundaries that divided East and West.
Published: 28 October 2021
Non-sedentary cultures have existed on the scholarly fringes and historiographical outskirts of the art-historical canon: there they remain to this day, buried between dated opposites like “east” and “west,” “high” and “minor” arts, torn by interdisciplinary tensions in art history, archaeology and ethnography. Nomadic societies are usually considered in cross-cultural studies only insofar as they can act as sufficiently expedient intermediaries linking settled empires in the designated “East” and “West,” hence the recent fascination with the Pontic Scythians who bordered, traded and fought with ancient Greece, or the Xiongnu whose nomadic confederation became a geopolitical threat to early imperial China. Yet, early pastoral nomads bordering China and Greece left behind a rich corpus of gold adornment which points to an elaborate system of image-making and highly conceptual designs rooted in zoomorphism. The following article focuses on the strategies of self-fashioning and funerary decor employed in the entombment of the elite in the early nomadic societies of Central Eurasia. Golden suits, composed of metonymically conveyed animal images, along with foreign exotica, were the normative elements of a noble’s funeral. Adornment had to showcase the elite’s life on earth as that of a daring, globally recognized politician and a proud steppe resident.
Connie Karol Burks
Published: 27 October 2021
During her relatively brief but prolific career, spanning 1947–1954, Barbara Goalen became one of the most successful and widely-recognized fashion models in postwar Britain. Using extant material in her personal archive now housed in the Archive of Art and Design along with other image and text-based sources, this article traces the creation of Goalen’s public persona from anonymous face to renowned personality. Formed predominantly through images and text in mass media, it explores how this constructed ‘model persona’ powerfully denoted a particular aspect of the cultural zeitgeist in Britain at the time. Drawing on theories of photography, semiotics and celebrity the article discusses how Goalen represented and embodied a prescribed ‘ideal’ of society both physically, with her ‘look’, and culturally, with her persona, reflecting the dominant esthetic and cultural standards perpetuated by the fashion industry, and wider society, at the time. Following the growing body of work examining the significance of models in fashion history, this article uses Goalen as an example to demonstrate the important and active contributions that models make toward creating images and disseminating fashion culture, as well as representing a visual legacy of a moment in fashion.
Published: 26 October 2021
The early twentieth-century Broadway stages and US vaudeville circuits boasted numerous successful performers, costumiers, producers and directors who understood that their luxurious costumes were crucial to a production’s success because they supported the show’s narrative and the performer’s personal brand. Costumes were themselves “actors” that performed via an actress’s body to reflect the social, cultural and economic landscapes they inhabited, spinning tales of notoriety, extravagance and celebrity that proved potent to audiences. In some cases, however, Broadway and vaudeville costumes were unruly, behaving in unintended ways and telling audiences stories that differed from a show’s narrative and highlighting social anxieties that audiences had come to the theater to escape. Drawing on theories of agency in costume and textile semantics, this article analyses early twentieth-century accounts of costumes behaving badly to argue that those reviled as disgusting by theater critics and audiences reflected classed fears of poverty and disease.
Published: 11 October 2021
During the 1970s, people in the United States founded gay and lesbian choruses for political activism, coming out, and celebration. We examined the history of one of these choruses, the Des Moines Gay Men’s Chorus (DMGMC). We asked, how do their bodies in motion and styling-fashioning-dressing produce, distribute, and negotiate queer representations? How do they appear across space and time? How can these style-fashion-dress acts open multiple interpretations and dialectical subtleties? To answer these questions, we analyzed the original DMGMC slogan T-shirt, the digital archive of historical LGBT T-shirts, performance videos and imagery, song lyrics, news articles, and oral histories. The chorus members negotiated queer sensibilities, choral traditions, activism, and community building through their T-shirts and performance costumes in complex ways. They negotiated queer representations by creating temporary queer spaces during the AIDS crisis and highlighting how community and visibility have been significant in gay history. However, the chorus often prioritized an appropriate kind of gay man via dress, which they reinforced through racial-power dynamics, complex-gender associations related to tuxedos, and cabaret performance outfits that included nun’s habits. The chorus’ various collective styles esthetically represent how gay men’s choruses navigate entanglements of tradition, gayness, and music while reclaiming oppressive symbology.
Published: 11 October 2021
This study critically examines, on the one hand, how digital online shopping sites in China, mainly Taobao and Jingdong, have presented UK fashion to the Chinese market. Given the prevailing trend of online shopping for clothing in China, the transnational flow of UK fashion to China is largely monopolized and manipulated by these digital giants. Illustrated in this paper is China’s increasing power to shape and articulate UK/British fashion discourse through various retailers as “cultural translators” in the domestic market, and however, the translation was largely made to sell “counterfeit UK fashion,” resulting in a phenomenon of culture piracy. On the other hand, on the international market, to reflect China’s “going out strategy,” literally these digital online shopping sites also collaborate with UK fashion designers to promote UK fashion in and outside China. The paper discusses the implications for China’s extension of soft power over the fashion industry within and outside China.
Published: 11 October 2021
The phenomenon of “digital fashion” has been lately addressed in media as the next significant step in the fashion industry. The increasing use of the 3D-software in fashion design processes is part of a wider “fashion 4.0” digitalization process. This article frames the phenomenon of digital fashion and presents an in-depth case study research on two pioneering companies in this area, Atacac and The Fabricant. How and why are they building their fashion design practice on digital 3D-design? How are these companies redefining the fashion design culture and the fashion designer? Drawing from sociology of professions, this article proposes that digital fashion is an emerging subfield within the field of fashion design, differentiating itself from the professional conventions and building new strategies of jurisdiction and legitimation. Driven by sociotechnical affordances and elevation of professional pride through ethical, conceptual, artistic and skill differentiation, digital fashion designer becomes also a digital artisan. In the increasingly virtual, or “phygital” space and a networked synergetic community of digital fashion, the professional, authorial, bodily and material boundaries of designers become fluid, transforming the traditional figure of fashion designer.
Published: 11 October 2021
In this article, I revisit J.C. Flügel’s conception of the “Great Masculine Renunciation” and its lasting effect on fashion scholarship. Coined in Flügel’s 1930 book The Psychology of Clothes, the term was quickly adopted by early dress historians, though it has often been used in extraction from its original context. Flügel’s framework of psychology both illuminated and limited his analysis of men’s clothing: I compare his early 20th-century psychological analysis to the real historical style changes between the 18th and 19th centuries, and the profound, lasting impact they had not just on men, but on broader understandings of gender, class, and nationality. I challenge Flügel’s definition of the changes in fashions that did occur at the end of the 18th century as essentially about masculinity—by far the more profound impact has been the associated assigning of women’s dress to the character of “fashion,” a role which had previously been held by both genders of the upper class. While it is not invalid to consider this esthetic shift in terms of a loss for men, it also allowed for women’s fashion to be marked as fashion, and for women and nonwhite, non-western, or non-heteronormative men to be marked as “other.”
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