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VAC32: Decolonizing Fashion Studies: Rethinking Curriculum, Collections, and Creative Practice


Within fashion studies education and scholarship, we seek to identify ways to dismantle racism, classism, sexism, ableism, ageism, xenophobia, transphobia, and fatphobia in curriculum, university teaching collections, and creative design practice.

Open to New People

Inactive since: 2022

  • Syracuse University
  • Cornell University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology

Collaborative Goals

Our goals are threefold and focus on ways to make curriculum, collections, and creative practice more accessible, equitable, inclusive, and anti-discriminatory. Fashion -- as a creative practice, complex industry, quotidian experience, and powerful site of subject formation -- is both full of productive possibility and yet also problematic in the ways that the industry, fashion museums, and even university curricula tend to perpetuate classism, sexism, ableism, racism, ageism, xenophobia, transphobia, and fatphobia. Dismantling structures of inequality in Fashion Studies requires that we analyze the current content of our programs, devise innovative pedagogical interventions, and develop initiatives and strategies that will diversify the curriculum, collections, and research projects, in addition to our student body and faculty.

In this Working Group, we have explored initiatives and possibilities that embed social justice within the pedagogical spectrum we employ in training students and the scholarship and research we conduct. We ask:

  • How can we make our curricula more inclusive, accessible, and anti-discriminatory?
  • How will we decolonize our fashion-related collections and diversify in ways that are respectful and ethical?
  • How might our scholarly research, creative practice, and curatorial endeavors actively counter and critique forms of discrimination?

Group Organizers

Courtney Asztalos

Lead Curator, Curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts Business Unit, Syracuse University

Denise N. Green

Associate Professor of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, Cornell University

Jeffrey Mayer

Professor of Fashion Design, Syracuse University

Judith A. Byfield

Professor of History, Cornell University

Kirsten Schoonmaker

Assistant Teaching Professor, Fashion Design, Syracuse University

Marcie Farwell

Textile Industry Curator, Cornell University

Melissa Dawson

Assistant Professor of Industrial Design, Rochester Institute of Technology

Group Outcomes