Instructor & Co-Organizer,  "Fashion and Justice" (a workshop)

July 15, 2017

Location: The University Center at The New School, New York

Fashion forms part of a society’s rich tapestry and can serve as an entry point into contemplating how marginalized and racialized communities understand themselves and their place in the world. FASHION & JUSTICE is a daylong workshop that examines the role of fashion in challenging inequality through sartorial ingenuity. The schedule will include an analysis of artwork and artistic projects, partial film screenings, review of relevant literature, conversations with guest speakers, and a look at designers, artists, journalists, curators, photographers, and academics who explore the fashion system through a critical lens. Participants will leave the workshop with a #fashionandjustice syllabus equipping them with tools to understand how marginalized communities harness fashion to negotiate the complexities of power and visibility (and the lack thereof), proposing substantive solutions for a more just fashion system.

The Instructors:
Jonathan Michael Square, PhD
Jonathan Michael Square is a writer and professor of history at Harvard University, specializing in fashion and visual culture in the African Diaspora. Jonathan received a Ph.D in history from New York University, a master’s from the University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor’s from Cornell University.

Kimberly M. Jenkins, M.A.
Kimberly Jenkins is a visiting assistant professor of fashion history and theory at Pratt Institute and part-time lecturer at Parsons School of Design. Kimberly specializes in the sociocultural and historical influences behind why we wear what we wear, specifically addressing how politics, psychology, race and gender shapes the way we ‘fashion’ our identity.

Guest Speakers:
Elizabeth Way, Assistant Curator, The Museum at F.I.T.
Elizabeth Way is an assistant curator at the Museum at FIT where she was instrumental in curating and organizing the recent Black Fashion Designers exhibition and symposium. She has also published a study of African-American dressmakers Elizabeth Keckley and Ann Lowe for Fashion Theory.

Joy Douglas, Fashion Designer, Parsons BFA ’17
Joy Marie Douglas is a fashion designer, photographer, and artist from Los Angeles, California. Joy earned her bachelor's degree in Fine Art at Parsons School of Design where she majored in Fashion Design. The social, political, and environmental impacts of fashion are topics that Joy has focused heavily upon within her personal research and design career. Her senior thesis was titled, "REBRANDED: Redefining post-incarceration identity".

Morning Session
– Check-in (The University Center at The New School, 66 Fifth Avenue)
– Welcome and participant Introductions, Jonathan Michael Square and Kimberly M. Jenkins
– “Fashioning the Self in Slavery and Freedom” and “Fashion in the Family Archive,” Jonathan Square

Afternoon Session (following one-hour lunch break)
– "Fashion and Race," Kimberly Jenkins
– "REBRANDED: Redefining post-incarceration identity," Joy Douglas and Kimberly Jenkins in conversation
– Guest lecture on the dress practice of Sam Cooke by Elizabeth Way
– “Epilogue: Proposing Fashion Futures,” Kimberly Jenkins
– Closing reception

Press coverage: "These Professors Are Here To 'School The Ignorant' On Race And Fashion", NYLON (July 14, 2017)

Co-Founder & Contributor, The Fashion Studies Journal (FSJ)

(Re)Launched: August 2016

A relaunch and expansion of its previous iteration, my fashion studies cohort has given FSJ a new look and developed an online platform that supports peers in the field of fashion studies. 

Our mission is as follows: 

"The Fashion Studies Journal (FSJ) is a quarterly online journal. Founded in 2012 by students in the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons School of Design (New York, NY), it began as a platform for graduate-level writing in the emerging field of fashion studies. In our first years, we were a strictly academic publication, approaching fashion phenomena from cerebral, critical, and at times (we hate to admit it) inaccessible angles. In 2016, however, we are shifting our emphasis away from strictly academic writing, and we are here to make connections: between ideas and objects, and between ourselves and the fashion-literate population at-large.  

At FSJ, we seek to carve a space to addresses current issues facing the contemporary fashion landscape, while simultaneously examining these issues through a critical lens of history and theory. As a multivalent practice that embodies not simply concerns of industry and design, but also those pertaining to gender, race, politics and cultural heritage, fashion undoubtedly merits both a critical and celebratory approach, and it is the goal of FSJ to unwrap, analyze and present fashion to our readers in a way that is both true to its spirit while also discerning of its nuanced nature. Our varied editorial approach – from substantive news reporting to in-depth academically driven essays – is not only geared to offer our readership a novel perspective, but also provides a platform for a wide range of contributors, from emerging academics and journalists, to established practitioners and scholars.

Beyond publishing, FSJ also seeks to break down the "fourth wall" of academic writing by forging real, person-to-person connections through an open peer-review process, but also through events such as our biannual Fashion & Spinach dinner series, book clubs, workshops, film screenings, and clothing swaps. Indeed, at its core, FSJ stands as a community for fashion thinkers of all backgrounds, and it is our hope to engage, challenge and inspire our readership to continue building this community and furthering the cause of this common pursuit."

Co-Author, "The Fashion and Race Syllabus"

Launched: July 2016

Authored alongside my Parsons School of Design peer, Rikki Byrd, we have created a new research project entitled, "The Fashion and Race Syllabus" in effort to organize and call attention to scholarship that addresses the intersection of fashion and race, and decentralizes Western fashion history.

Our mission is as follows: 

"In 2008, writer Vicki Woods posed a bold and unsettling question in Vogue magazine’s July issue: “Is Fashion Racist?” It meant something, for one of fashion’s most prestigious publications to acknowledge, or at least beg the question, of racism in the aspirational industry that is fashion. This question evokes a topic worthy of further study, as new conversations in fashion criticism have emerged in recent years to further complicate existing discourses as it pertains to the social construct of race and ethnicity, challenging accepted standards of beauty and shifting the power dynamic within the fashion system. Through selected readings and links to resources in the media, this syllabus will investigate the ways in which fashioned identities emerge within a racialized context in an effort to gain access, visibility and power.

While reading, please note that this list is by no means exhaustive, though we are optimistic that our syllabus will expand as the discourse regarding fashion and race broadens its authorship and becomes concretized within the academic discipline of Fashion Studies. Building upon the interdisciplinary nature of fashion, this living  document revisits classic texts and celebrates new research within neighboring fields such as Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, Africana Studies, Gender Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, ultimately developing a framework that decentralizes and complicates our understanding of fashion history."

Photo credit: Alen MacWeeney, photo project, "New York Subways" (1977)

Co-Founding Editor, Fashion Studies Journal (FSJ)

Volume I, Issue I: "What is Fashion Studies?" (2012), a collaborative publishing project with Lauren Downing Peters, Anya Kurennaya, Laura Palmer Peach and Laura Snelgrove.

"FSJ is an interdisciplinary journal created by the first cohort of students from the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons The New School for Design. The Purpose of this journal is to materialize innovations in fashion theory, criticism, and design, and to provide an accessible platform for those outside of academia to realize the profound meanings in the away we dress and the motivations behind it." –Fashion Studies Journal

Co-Founding Editor, BIAS: Journal of Dress Practice (sponsored by the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons School of Design)

Issue 1, "Fashion + Healing" (2013), a collaborative publishing project with Laura Palmer Peach, Rachel Kinnard, Sara Idacavage and Alessandro Esculapio.

I contributed a piece entitled “Fashioning a Rite of Passage” that appears on page 28identifying resilience in divorcée dress practice.

"BIAS is an academic journal organized by the Dress Practice Collective. The Dress Practice Collective is a New School student-run organization aimed at joining elements of visual culture, fashion theory, design studies and personal practice." –Dress Practice Collective

Co-Organizer & Host, Fashion Studies Journal presents: "Fashion & Spinach"

June 26, 2015

Location: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

A supper club hosted in Brooklyn for emerging fashion scholars in collaboration with Lauren Downing Peters, Anya Kurennaya, Rachel Kinnard and Laura Snelgrove.

"Inspired by Elizabeth Hawes’ Fashion is Spinach (1938), Fashion & Spinach is an intimate dinner party for those hungry to discuss fashion and dress with a community of like-minded party animals.

The event was born of a desire to make meaningful connections among this amazing peer group of people working in and around fashion in New York City. There never seems to be enough time for real conversation at the endless cocktail receptions, standing around awkwardly holding a plate of snacks and a plastic glass sloshing over with wine, waiting to get a word in edgewise with the star of the event.

We (the FSJ team) found ourselves craving a space to engage with our community more personally and spread the excitement we feel about the diversity of ways you’re engaging with clothing, art, theory, and media. 

The first Fashion & Spinach event occurred on June 26, 2015. A wonderful group of fashion scholars and practitioners met around a table of bountiful food and flowing wine and shared thoughts and ideas about fashion and dress. It was a beautiful evening!"

Fashion Studies Journal

Photo credit: Anya Kurennaya