If you’ve ever had to explain why fashion is “important” (as many a fashion enthusiast has), chances are the reasons one would use to defend fashion have been dissected in great detail, intelligently, by those in the field of “fashion studies.” Sociology, anthropology, economics, art history, gender, and race studies—these are but a few of the umbrellas under which fashion can be discussed. For anyone battling the general perception that the fashion is vapid and superficial, fashion studies is an affirmation that there is a smart way to speak about clothing.
Unfortunately, like most academic work, the literature can be intimidating to the average reader. Enter The Fashion Studies Journal, a new publication that straddles the line between academia and popular journalism. “We’re part of this whole new guard of thinking about fashion,” said co-founder and editor-in-chief Kim Jenkins, who began the journal when she was studying at Parsons in 2012. “My vision was that I wanted to make fashion studies accessible to everyone. I want it to be this open, fun thing.”
It is not the only academic journal of fashion studies to work with journalists and writers, but its current online format allows for a democratization of its content, deliberately reaching the widest possible audience without compromising the quality of the writing.
“[Other journals] tend to publish the work of more established scholars, and they tend to take a really, really critical stance on contemporary fashion,” explained co-founder and managing editor Lauren Downing Peters. “We wanted to have the critical angle, but we also wanted to leave room for people to celebrate fashion, and to enjoy fashion, which I think is another gap that we were seeking to fill. Often times, fashion criticism can be just that—too overtly critical.”