Photo of Laura sitting at her desk looking at a computer screen in front of her. On her desk are a water bottle, a tea kettle, an open notebook with handwriting, and an unfinished embroidery.

Fashion in Focus: Where to learn about fashion in 2024

January marks the start of a new year for many of us and with it come along new intentions, ideas, and paths for exploration.

Most of my life has been tied to an academic calendar that starts somewhere between July and September, so in past years I’ve felt like the start of the year actually occurs then. But this year, more than ever in my life, January does mark a new beginning for me, as I prepare for my big move and starting a new job in the UK. And, in the process, I’m trying to envision everything that I want to experience in this new book.

To me, starting afresh means learning new things and making space for everything that sparks my curiosity. In my list this year is practicing my Portuguese- and Quechua-speaking skills, learning to add beads and appliqués to my embroideries, and of course, continuing to understand as much as I can about the true diversity of fashion.

If you want to join me in this last mission, I’ve gathered five spaces where you can learn about fashion from non-hegemonic perspectives.

1. The Zay Initiative’s Friend Group

The Zay Initiative was founded by Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, with the aim to preserve cultural heritage through the collection, documentation and digital archiving of Arab historical attire and their stories. By joining the Zay Initiative’s Patreon, you will get access to a full library of online lectures and research papers, and participate in a variety of events focused on Arab fashion.

2. History of African and Diaspora Fashion – An Introductory Course

This course offers an introduction to the diverse, millenary histories of fashion across the African continent and diaspora and contemporary African fashion. Hosted by The Council for International African Fashion Education’s (CIAFE), it aims to demystify the simplistic ideas that have been erroneously spread about African fashion by closing an important gap in global knowledge of fashion and decolonizing fashion curricula.

3. The Tatreez and Tea Lecture Archive

Tatreez and Tea is an educational arts initiative focused on the preservation, documentation and research of Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian embroidery (or tatreez) and dressmaking traditions. Its lecture archive is a repository of 12 pre-recorded lectures by Wafa Ghnaim that discuss some of the latest subjects in dress and art history as it relates to tatreez and Palestinian, Syrian and Jordanian fashion arts.

4.  What Women Wore to the Revolution

In the first online course hosted by the creators of Dressed podcast, Cassidy Zachary will take us on a journey through the many changes faced by Euro-North American women’s fashion between the 1850s and 1920s. It traces the history of fashion as it connects to women’s rights, innovations led by female creatives, the modernization of female labor, and the challenging of societal norms around race, gender, and social status.

5. Re/dressing Fashion Book Club

I sometimes doubt if I should include my own offerings in these roundups because I’d like to highlight the important work that others are doing to move beyond hegemonic narratives of fashion. But I just couldn’t leave out my monthly book club—which is one of my favorite learning spaces. Not only do we get to read and discuss the work of incredible authors, but we also learn from the immense knowledge of everyone who joins month by month.

One last thing before I leave you: If you’re trying to figure out how to organize your time to find enough space for your goals and wellbeing, please consider reviewing my guide on reverse scheduling. I’ve been using this time-management technique since I started my Ph.D. and I honestly swear by it!

Thank you, thank you for reading and until next time!

—L 🩷

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