Ask any student what a day at AMFI entails and most of the answers you get are going to be something like ‘updating my process book’, ‘researching sustainable clothing factories in China’ or ‘toiling away for every single waking moment in the sewing room, until I can’t tell what’s fabric and what are my own tired fingers’.
Answers you might not expect to hear include ‘investigating Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity‘ or ‘discussing the power balances in today’s digital data economy in relation to Foucault’s theory of neoliberal politics.’
These are real answers though, from students at AMFI taking part in the Fashion Theories minor. Closer to a university BA course, Fashion Theories teaches students to analyse the fashion industry in an academic manner.
The minor is split into three parts: the body, (popular) culture, and marketing. Students examine theories from Deleuze to Kotler, Bourdieu to Baudrillard and a whole lot in between, each constructing three academic papers on topics such as #instagay, Kim K, or Dutch football fans, to name only a few of the range of topics explored.
This can seem like a lot to process, particularly for those more accustomed to analysing garment patterns rather than academic papers. However, those who do take part in the minor are often surprised by how much the intricacies can be applied to a further understanding of everyday life and of the fashion industry. I asked a few Fashion Theories students what they considered the most valuable thing they learnt in the last semester and how it will help them as they continue their life at AMFI or in the big bad world.
How a lot of different theories that mostly have nothing to do with fashion, can still relate back to that world. I’ve acquired a totally different perception of the world (and then tried to bring all it back to fashion… a hard job to do, but in the end quite rewarding).
Dominique van den Broek
3rd year, Cultural Heritage at Reinwardt Academie
That basically everything around us in society, e.g. gender, is socially constructed. This was quite a shocking realisation but also very exciting, because this means anything can be changed as well – in order to attack power inequalities and to construct ideas that create a more balanced and equal environment.
Florentina van Stapele
4th Year, International Fashion & Branding at AMFI
I have learned that fashion is maybe the most encompassing subject in our world and that you can relate almost all things to it. Deleuze’s theories really inspired me to take the chance and think differently about things happening in the world.
3rd Year, Fashion & Management at AMFI
Personally, I was shocked with the fact that Europe (or Western culture) has such a strong voice in comparison to the rest of the world. We ignore certain cultures and take over their beauty ideals, for example. Fashion Theories has pushed me into different directions, even challenging opinions I thought I was quite sure of.
alumna 2016 International Fashion & Branding at AMFI
There is no right or wrong in philosophy. And I learned to question everything. Seriously, EVERYTHING.
4th Year, Lifestyle & Design at Willem de Kooning Academy
For me, one of the most valuable aspects of Fashion Theories is that it allows students to consider the fashion industry from new angles, as well as to take a step back and consider the field as a whole. We ask why often, and in the process, open new doors to discover and create, and to diversify our points of view.
Article by fourth-year International Fashion & Branding student Clemency Newman.