Critical analyses of fashion’s role in society have revealed its significance as a cultural phenomenon. Recent academic studies have cited fashion’s contributions to visual culture, gender studies, art history, material culture and cultural studies, crucially highlighting fashion as a key factor in the formation of identity. In recent decades, fashion’s complex meanings have been interpreted and quantified by researchers, scholars and theorists, subsequently revealing its credibility as a legitimate academic discipline.

Fashion Studies will contribute to the university’s existing post-graduate programmes in History of Art, Cinema Studies, Literature, Theatre Studies, Ethnology, Media and Communication, History of Ideas, Cultural Studies and Gender Studies. Fashion Studies will be inter-disciplinary in scope and engage with practitioners in Architecture, Product Design, Social Psychology, Textile Technology, New Media and in the fashion business itself. These collaborations are intended to reveal new interpretations of the body, highlight clothing’s role as a communicative device, explore fashion’s consumption of cyberspace and physical space, and chart fashion’s gradual interface with technology.

‘Fashion Studies enables the university to research and develop an important area which has been neglected in academia, revealing its significance to the humanities and the social sciences,’ said KĂ„re Bremer, Vice-Chancellor of Stockholm University. ‘The university will initiate alliances with institutions in Europe, North America and the Far East who also research the theoretical basis of fashion.

According to Professor Kerstin DahlbÀck, former Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Fashion Studies will also make a response to the fashion industry.

‘Because Fashion Studies explores the connections between fashion as a cultural form and fashion as a market-driven force, the programme will appeal to Liberal Arts graduates but also provide a deeper understanding of fashion to those already working in the industry,’ she said. ‘Students will also be able to target research interests toward new developments in the fashion business.

Fashion Studies was established following a generous grant from the Erling-Persson Family Foundation designated for research and education in fashion. Ingrid Giertz-MĂ„rtenson, former director of the Swedish Fashion Council, was engaged by the Faculty of Humanities to initiate and develop the establishment of a centre for fashion studies. ‘Despite its historical and cultural significance, fashion has often been dismissed as a trivial subject,’ she said. ‘The support of the Erling-Persson Family Foundation has helped create something entirely new: a programme that will study the theoretical basis of fashion yet enrich students with an understanding of how the industry works in practice.’

The grant from the Erling-Persson Family Foundation will remunerate a full professorship in Fashion Studies, grant an honorarium to a visiting professor and provide scholarships for two doctoral scholars. The professorship will be advertised this Spring and Fashion Studies will commence in Autumn 2006, making Stockholm University the first academic institution to establish fashion as a legitimate academic discipline.

Contact information:
KĂ„re Bremer, Vice-Chancellor Stockholm University, phone +46 8 16 22 71, email rektor@su.se
Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Humanities Stockholm University, phone +46 8 674 76 16, email, astrid@mail.film.su.se
Sten Wikander, the Erling-Persson Family Foundation, phone +46 8641 50 23

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