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The Individual & the Collective: Fashion Communication & Society

Julie Hillery,
Core: Social and Behavioral Sciences


Fashion communicates! And with the popularity of social media today there is no time in history where this may be more applicable. Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that 30 years ago, people living in cities saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day. Today hat number is around 5000! TV shows such as Project Runway, The Housewives’, and What Not to Wear, along with movies such as The Devil Wears Prada also fuels society’s awareness of fashion. Through the media, fashion images provide a language used to communicate about one’s self-image, roles, and status within society. This class will look at the language fashion creates and analyze the ways individuals translate, interpret and manipulate that language. Popular theories of fashion will provide the framework for analysis. 

Fashion as Communication. London: Routledge Press.

Barthes, R., & Stafford, A. (2006). The language of fashion. Oxford: Berg.

In addition to the required books above, reading assignments will be in the form of articles from both scholarly and popular media, books, websites, and will be available for electronic download.

Journals for reference:

Journal of Fashion Theory

Clothing and Textiles Research Journal

Fashion Practice

Additional References available online through the Berg Fashion Library (I will provide since this is a subscription-baseddatabase) 



TEDtalks on fashion:

Additional Materials: There are many films, tv shows, blogs, websites and fashion magazines that we will use each week for our discussions and activities.

We will also use Ted Talks, You Tube videos, blogs, and other popular social media for current events related to the course. 

Students will complete short assignments based on readings and weekly topics, lead one class discussion and complete two writing assignments including analysis of fashion magazine advertisements, and a course blog post. In addition students will have weekly assignments and will also be expected to participate in class discussions and activities.

Dr. Hillery earned her B.S. and M.S. from Ohio State University and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison inTextiles and Clothing, and has received numerous teaching awards. She has published two books: Ethics for the Fashion Industry and Guide to Fashion Career Planning: Job Search, Résumés, and Strategies for Success, in addition to numerous articles related to clothing and society, retailing, and best practices in teaching.