Refashioning Fashion

Pigments for sale on market stall, Goa, India.

What is fashion? For many of us, fashion is associated with glamour, prestige and sometimes rebelliousness. It's what we see on runways, in magazines and movies, and on celebrity style blogs. It is the creative combination of colors, fabrics, textures, and design.  

BUT beyond these beguiling exteriors lie some troubling truths—truths we fail to confront when we think about clothing as if they were simply objects or just "things."

Who makes the clothes we wear and at what cost? What are the environmental impacts of fashion, and who is most affected by this? Why are the standard bearers of fashion—the models—almost all white, waiflike women? Who gets to decide which aesthetics and body types are worthy of display? Finally, why are we compelled to consume fashion and who really is this enriching?

The answers to these questions reveal the ugly side of fashion: a world fraught with exploitation, ecological degradation, and disillusionment—realities hidden within the threads and seams of clothes we all wear.

Can any of this be changed? Can any of this be REFASHIONED?

These are the underlying questions that Sandhya Ganapathy and her First Year Seminar students are exploring. Beginning with a journey deep into "the heart of fashion" (i.e. our closets), to an exploration of fashion houses and style icons, to an examination of the manufacturing processes which makes fashion possible, this seminar will grapple not only with fashion’s ugliness but also search for the possibility of redemption. A world of fashion that is more humane, and ecologically and socially just. 

Project team