I’m sure when many of you think “fashion week” you might be thinking designer clothes you can’t afford or the beautiful places called New York or Paris. Well this week UW-L is bringing there own fashion week to campus, but it’s not what you are thinking. The focus of this fashion week is to bring awareness to the issues of social justice and bring up other topics you don’t normally think about when you think of fashion. The organizer of the event, Terry Glenn Lilley, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He says, “I think many people view fashion as a trivial pursuit, or at least not a subject of serious academic inquiry. But fashion is used to express and contest identity, both at the individual and the collective level. Fashion is also at the intersection of imitation and distinction, production and consumption, agency and structure. In these ways, fashion is more than just “fashion”- it’s a window into some pretty important questions..” Fashion can be fun and a cool way to express yourself, but along with that, fashion is an industry and sometimes you don’t see what goes on behind the scenes.
I was pretty unaware of everything that goes on behind the shirt I am wearing. I knew that a majority of the clothes I was wearing, and that majority of what others are wearing, were made in places like China and Vietnam. I didn’t think too much of this until about a year ago when I ran into an article on ethical fashion and the exposure on how most factories in placed like China and Vietnam are treating their workers. I began to think about the person who made the shirt I was wearing and what they are going through. That really changed my outlook on what I was deciding to wear every day. The issue of ethical fashion is what got Dr. Lilley interested as well.
When asking Dr. Lilley what his role was in this event he replied with, “I’m the organizer. A few years back, I attended a talk on ethical fashion by an alum (Ashleyn Przedwiecki). It got me thinking about opening a broader conversation about social justice issues through the lens of fashion here on campus. I kicked around the idea for about a year before pulling together a group of folks to help me pull it through.” I then followed up with why he wanted to get involved and he said, “I’m a social justice scholar. Fashion is a lens that will draw in students not normally engaged in social justice conversations at the same time that it offers the opportunity for some rich analysis and conversations.”
I think one of the struggles we face when trying to solve the issues of ethics when it comes to fashion is for 1. people are unaware of the issue and 2. it can be easy to just throw the issues in the back of your mind when you are not seeing the direct effects when you buy a new shirt from your favorite store in the mall. Fashion also raises problems regarding what you should and should not wear based on your gender. I asked Dr. Lilley why these issues related to fashion are important and he responded, “Precisely because so many find it unimportant. Fashion often gets dismissed as trivial because of its association with the feminine (we see the same distinctions made with what gets considered art and what gets considered as craft, by the way). In that way, fashion reveals something incredibly important about the way gender operates in society.”
There are going to be so many amazing events going on this next week with UW-L’s fashion week and expect to leave with your perspective changed in some ways. I asked Dr. Terry Lilley on what he thinks students should expect when attending and he says, “Students should expect to have their concept of fashion broadened. They should expect to find that there are many disciplines that have something important to say about fashion. They should expect to her from some incredible scholars, activists, designers, and models. And they should expect to walk away from the week with the understanding that fashion is a way to get at a lot of pretty big questions.”
Come on out this week and check out the events (listed below) going on!
Here is the list of events going on this week:
Monday 23 October 2017
1400 Centennial, 7pm
Dr. Tanisha Ford, University of Delaware “Fashioning the Movement: Resistance and Appropriation From Black Power to #BlackLivesMatter”
Author of the book, “Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul”, and 2016 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award recipient from the Organization of American Historians, Dr. Ford will discuss the history of soul style as a site and strategy of resistance. For more information on Dr. Ford, please see http://www.tanishacford.com/
Tuesday 24 October 2017
1309 Centennial, 6 pm
Mariah Idrissi “Changing the Face of Fashion”
In partnership with the UWL Anti-Islamophobia Working Group, our UWL Visiting Artist of Color, Mariah Idrissi connects two worlds- the world of fashion and Muslim women- by her experience as one of the first Muslim model in an H&M promo. Mariah explores the changing and evolving role of inclusion in fashion, and the importance of representation in all fields, and especially fashion. She also explores the ways representation in fashion and elsewhere can lead to breaking down barriers of misconceptions and Islamophobia.
Wednesday 25 October 2017
Graff Main Auditorium, 4:30 pm
Screening of the Documentary film, The True Cost
Wednesday 25 October 2017
1400 Centennial, 7pm
Dr. Anupama Pasricha, St. Catherine’s University “Sustainability 360: Triple Top Line in the Fashion Industry”
Sustainability is imperative in today’s business model – whether it be in the fashion industry or elsewhere, in fast fashion or slow fashion. We need to engage in purposeful business decisions grounded in shared values. The presentation will focus on Elkington’s Triple Bottom Line (which Dr. Pasricha refer to as the Triple Top Line) and the drivers and key strategies for transforming the industry towards greater sustainability. It will encompass all components, such as design, sourcing, operations, marketing, merchandising, and distribution. She will share about her work and collaborations in addition to success stories from the fashion industry.
Thursday 26 October 2017
Student Union Theater, 7pm
Oskar Ly “Fashion, Art, and Social Enterprise at the Margins”
Oskar is a Hmong French American artist and cultural producer. Her work. Her work has focused across Hmong and LGBTQ identity, social enterprise and community building. Over the last decade, she founded her fashion art label, Os.Couture (est. 2006), wrote WOMN + WOMN, a musical about three generations of Queer Hmong womn, and led cultural productions such as the SOY New Year, Fresh Traditions Fashion Show and the Little Mekong Night Markets. Oskar is the founder of ArtCrop, the first Hmong artist residency and art subscription modeled after community supported agriculture/art (CSA). The artshare subscription is available this fall 2017 through Hmong American Farmers Association and will feature materials sourced through Red Green Rivers artisans. ArtCrop aims to create sustainable opportunities for artists and farmers (cultural makers), and invites all to a more rooted Hmong experience. She is also the Community Connections Manager at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, with a focus on racial equity and community engagement.
At this event, Oskar will share how her art, organizing and design aesthetics reflect and inform her broader activism. Centered in the practice of identity, collaboration and movement building, her approach is informed through immersing herself in the process and community she is based in. Her work redefines and challenges norms while embracing cultural expression in identity and spaces. She explores alternative sustainable models, engaging other cultural makers to forge deeper relationships to one another and the places they live in to establish shared economies. Learn more about Oskar at oskarlyart.com.
Friday 27 October 2017
Symposium and Fashion show Hall of Nations,
Centennial, 9:55 am-3:10 pm
Session I: Presentations, 9:55-10:50 am
-“How the Gender Dichotomy is ‘Made Real’ through Fashion: A History of the Three-Piece Suit and the Corset”, Dr. Ariel Beaujot -“Environmentally-Friendly Faces: Sustainable Makeup”, Emily Stoll, English -“Fashion against Animal Cruelty”, Kaelyn Bencs and Brianne Bencs, Undecided
Session II: Presentations, 11-11:55 am
-“Fashion and the Fetish in Renaissance Poetry”, Dr. Natalie Eschenbaum -“Invisible Femme”, Emma Gavink, Political Science -“Politics and Patriarchy: A Look at Diplomatic Women”, Sophie Jaume, Political Science -“A Wave of Sustainability”, Olivia Dineen, Management
Runway Show, 12-1 pm
-A runway show featuring the original designs of UWL students, faculty, and staff
Posters and Demonstrations, 1:10-2:05 pm
-A collection of posters and demonstrations connecting issues of social justice and fashion.
Session III: Presentations, 2:15-3:10 pm
-“‘Fashion’s Latest Whims Need Not Alarm Us’: Women’s Fashion and Nationalist Politics in 1930s Ireland”, Dr. Kenneth Shonk, History -“Hearing the Right Device”, Karlie Stefan, Public Administration -“Well ‘dressed’ Men: The Double Standard of De-Gendering Fashion”, Tucker De Guelle, Biochemistry
Closing Reception: 3:30-5 pm
-Hall of Nations