The Object of Fashion: methodological approaches to the history of fashion

Fashion Studies Essays That Say So Much

Speaking of objects of fashion, The Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, an anthology of fashion studies and history of dress, published an essay by Giorgio Riello entitled “The object of fashion: methodological approaches to the history of fashion.” In it, Riello discusses three different approaches to the study of fashion and fashion history, making it a great start for teaching at the undergraduate level.

Visit The Journal of Aesthetics and Culture‘s website to download the essay.

Below is Riello’s abstract for his fashion studies methodologies essay:


This essay considers the role of artefacts in the historical study of dress and fashion and suggests the existence of three different approaches. The field of history of dress and costume has a long tradition going back to the nineteenth century. It adopts the methodologies of art history and considers artefacts as central to the analysis of different periods and themes. In the last few decades the emergence of fashion studies has been interpreted as a distancing from artefacts. It is here claimed that fashion studies brought theoretical rigour and embraced a deductive methodology of analysis in which artefacts still played an important function. The final part of this essay introduces the reader to what I call the material culture of fashion, a hybrid methodology borrowed from anthropology and archeology in which the object is central in the study of social, cultural and economic practices that are time specific. It shows in particular the challenges and paybacks of such an approach.

Citation: Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 3, 2011 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v3i0.8865


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