Master’s Theses of the Inaugural MA Fashion Studies Class of 2012

The MA Fashion Studies program was founded as the first graduate program of its kind in Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory in 2010. Envisioned as a program fostering the critical, cultural analysis of fashion, as object, image, practice, the students in this program have exceeded all expectations in contributing with their innovative research projects to the advancement of the field.

Exploring a wide array of themes and diverse dimensions of fashion, from the mediation and imaginary of fashion to its materialization in everyday practice, the Masters Thesis projects enter original fields of inquiry and illuminate the complex relationship of fashion, body and identity in the contemporary world.

Tressa Brathwaite graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, specializing in Business Administration with a focus on International Business. Tressa works within the fields of fashion, advertising, public relations, and international affairs. Her thesis examines grotesque fashion in the 1980s and early 21st century. She enjoys learning languages, and is currently studying French.

Fashion as a Mirror of Opulence and a Shadow of Death: A Cultural and Social Investigation of the Reappearance of 1980s New York Fashion in the early 21st Century

New York City in the 1980s, a city spiraling into social and economic decay and decline, became transformed into a powerful place for the generation of high and popular culture, including fashion. The Costume Institute within the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1980s appeared to have encouraged bourgeois values within a society with seemingly mirrored opposing realities. Innovative ideas in the arts, and most notably within the fashion industry, were reflected in the clothes worn by celebrities and icons like those associated with the No Wave movement. The styles of members of the late 1970s post punk New York band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks embraced an aesthetic of fashion which reflected the rawness and vulgarity of the period. Fashion icons such as Rihanna, in the 21st century, appear to reflect the similar landscape of the period, through a style, which mirrors the choices of those icons in the downtown New York scene in the late 1970s – 1980s.
The New York City nightlife contributed to the burgeoning of a raw artform within art, music and, most importantly, fashion. A similar sentiment is seen in the 21st century, evident through a recession, and a metropolis living on the edge through fashion. Does the individual refer to former times which exemplify a similar social landscape to pattern methods of dress practices? How does the New Yorker decipher the binaries of beauty and ugliness through fashion? The chaos of a metropolis coupled with contradictory inner moral values of the spirit seem to justify the reappearance of 1980s New York fashion at the beginning of the 21st century. This thesis will examine the phenomenology of fashion in New York during the 1980s, and investigate and account for noticeable revivals of the styles of that period, since the start of the 21st century.

 

Corrinne Crewe, a UK national, entered fashion as a model for top designers around the world and competed successfully in contests such as Supermodel Zimbabwe and Miss Universe-Zimbabwe. She holds a BA in Social Studies with Sociology and Philosophy from the Open University in the UK. Corrinne is an active person with numerous interests such as tennis, cycling, street dance, human anatomy and nutrition, reflexology and massage.

The Dichotomy of Western and non-Western Fashion: The Impact of the New Wave of Fashion Designers from Africa and of African Descent on the Global Fashion Market

African fashion designers have become more globally apparent since the early 1960s when some of the greats of African fashion became known such as Alphadi (born Sidahmed Seidnaly), Oumou Sy and Lamine Kouyate of XulyBët. Their work has been instrumental, and paved the way for a new wave of emerging African designers (from Africa and its Diaspora) entering global fashion markets in the 21st century. This thesis focuses on high fashion designers from Africa and its diaspora, revealing the barriers they face when entering global fashion markets. In doing so, this study interrogates the cultural assumptions and hegemonic beliefs surrounding African fashion. For instance, historically some scholars have claimed fashion is an indicator of modernity, exclusive to the West. In contrast, a number of scholars, designers, and fashion enthusiasts are challenging these assumptions and new international platforms promoting the work of African designers are developing. African fashion is certainly not static, despite aspects of cultural preservation seen in their garments through the use of the most common cultural identifier, African fabric. The thesis explores the lasting effects of colonization, and the work of African designers whose advance in global fashion is still often impeded by the wrong perception of their use of African fabrics; through the association of national identity with their designs; by the lack of exposure in publicizing and marketing of their apparel; and by the shortage of distribution channels to sell their clothes. Focusing on the work of a group of four emerging high fashion designers, ARISE magazine and its respective fashion shows, the thesis demonstrates the active role that is taken to expose African talent.

E.P. Cutler is an internationally published fashion journalist with over seven years of experience writing for print and online publications. She worked as the Archival Researcher for the full-length feature documentary film, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival.

The Beautiful Other: Deconstructing the Media Discourse Surrounding Transgender Fashion Model, Lea T

In August 2010, transgender model Lea T appeared in a nude photograph, shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot for Vogue Paris. The picture featured Lea T in the process of transitioning, revealing both her budding breasts (from estrogen hormone treatment) and a glimpse of her biological male genitalia. After the picture ran, Lea T received significant media coverage. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the media discourse surrounding Lea T. By examining news articles, magazine columns, blogs, and a television segment by Oprah, I argue the media positioned Lea T within the confines of only two categories: Other and beautiful. Building on the seminal work of Edward Said, I utilize his terminology “Other,” not in relation to Orientalism, but in relation to how the media situated Lea T as “alien or lesser than” because of her gender. Using Susan Stewart’s work, On Longing, I explore how the media used “shock and amaze” tactics, previously relegated to early 20th century sideshows, to marginalize Lea T. I then analyze how the fashion media situated Lea T as beautiful (within the confines of high fashion standards), dismissing her gender as a “non-issue” because of her beauty. By analyzing the media discourse about Lea T, this thesis illuminates numerous issues, such as: the binary sex/gender system, fear and ignorance about transgender individuals, the standards (and power) of beauty, and the influence of fashion models today.

Charlotte Davis grew up outside Columbus, Ohio, graduated from Tufts University with a major in English, and moved to New York. She was drawn to Fashion Studies out of her compulsion to understand the social motivations and implications of our actions, and how we ‘fashion’ our own realities.

The Ethical Consumer: An Exploration of her Negotiations of the Fashion Paradigm

Ethical fashion carries with it a seductive message of empowerment. The consumer who purchases ethical fashion does so because she believes that she can change the world by purchasing products that do less harm and more good. This thesis is an exploration of the consumer’s intentions and motivations as she navigates the ethical apparel industry. How does the ethical fashion consumer perform her identity? Why is she drawn to ethical fashion? What makes her different from the consumer who does not seek out ethical fashion? In this thesis I aim to deconstruct the external influences that produce the consumer’s desire to participate in ethical fashion, including perceived outward pressure to live healthier more holistic lives. I look at the ways that the brand constructs itself online in order to tap into the consumer’s desires, to understand how technology has influenced the rise of ethical fashion. Finally, through participant/observer research on shopping trips and in the home, I attempt to draw out and analyze the consumer’s posited reasons for purchasing ethical fashion. What are her motivations while shopping for ethical fashion, and what special values are these material iterations of moral ideologies imbued with? All of this is meant to work towards a multidimensional understanding of how the consumer negotiates belief, desire, and need within the ethical fashion paradigm.

Lauren Downing graduated with honors from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010 where she studied Art History and Anthropology. Lauren’s work in the MA Fashion Studies program explores the intersections between fashion and everyday life, with a particular emphasis on how fashion is mediated through the democratic platform of the fashion blog. Her MA thesis considers how self-identifying fat women cultivate fashionable self-identities within a market that is slow to adopt high fashion trends.

Fashionably Fatshionable: A Consideration of the Dress Practices of Self-Proclaimed Fat Women

Within the strict confines of the image-driven world of fashion, there is little room for the fat female body, let alone her garments. However, this culture of discrimination is not limited to the fashion industry; within western society, the fat tolerance movement, born out of the discipline of Fat Studies in the twenty-first century, still struggles to find mainstream acceptance and big bodies remain consigned to the margins of aesthetic acceptability. With limited options in garments colloquially referred to as plus-size or curvy that are most often relegated to the nether regions of clothing stores and are excluded from the pages of high fashion periodicals, these women have historically been limited in their engagement with high fashion as mainstream designers simply have not had the desire, impetus nor means to cater to larger bodies. However, with the advent of the era of social media and the blogosphere and the proliferation of dedicated plus-size online shopping outlets, a homegrown, fat fashion culture has emerged to serve a population of self-proclaimed fatshionistas (a contraction of fat and fashionista) who have grown weary of shapeless, conservative, plus-size garments and seek a richer and more substantial engagement with popular fashions. Through the exchange of images, personal stories of adversity and triumph, and shopping and styling advice, these women have found a way to subvert a fashion system that has heretofore excluded them.Yet even within this insular community, there remains room for interpretation regarding what exactly fat fashion is, how fat women should dress and where the plus-size fashion industry is headed. Seeking to critically engage with the practices of self-fashioning, my research takes an individualized approach by utilizing interviews and collecting fashion life histories, which examine the myriad ways three self-identifying plus-size women of varying ages and races engage with fashion. Through this methodology, I aim to shed light on how the fatness and fashionability are negotiated on the corpulent body through the activation and deactivation of these identities.

Maniezheh Firouzi studied journalism, biochemistry, and Spanish at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her research interests include but are not limited to: the political economy of fashion, urbanization and urban planning, the Middle East, popular culture, and the intermingling strictures of food, fashion, and architecture.

Sex and the Fashion City: Carrie Bradshaw and the Discourses of Fashion in Sex & the City

This thesis elucidates how the Sex and the City series and films can be employed to create deeper understandings of fashion as text, identity, practice, object, and concept. In it, fashion and urbanity are privileged over the discourses of sex that abound in contemporary academia. Carrie Bradshaw’s embodied identity and choice of fashions are framed as a bricolage of vintage and luxury, (k)notted with connotations of elite New York society but re-interpreted according to Carrie’s sensibilities. Big, Aidan, and Petrovsky are not understood simply as romantic interests but allegories of fashion cities to which Carrie commits. Her acceptance of the fashion and jewelry then becomes a representation of not only her disposition towards the men and urbanities they personify, but her place in New York (or the larger world) that she desires to have with them. The more intimate or private representations of Carrie are analyzed: namely, her closet. Her closet is a fount of order and chaos, memories, secrets, old outfits and new shoes, ponderings, and old items re-found; the closet is also a passageway to the outside world. Arguably, a room of one’s own in the third wave feminist age is a woman’s closet. Lastly, the franchise is liminal; it collapses the real and the fictional with respect to New York as a fashion city, singlehood, and the growing urbanization of societies that makes understanding fashion and its relationship to the city ever prescient.

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Rachel François received her BA in Sociology from Bryn Mawr College. Rachel is interested in fashion as a practice of personal and collective meaning-making in realms of popular culture. Her MA thesis allows her to explore the intersections of fashion and music through the interdisciplinary lenses of Black Studies, Cultural Studies and Fashion Studies.

“This is Luxury Rap”: It’s Swagger We Can Finally Afford: A Perspective on Luxury Fashion in Hip Hop through Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne LP

Hip Hop artists are conservatively accused of encouraging mindless conspicuous consumption of expensive luxury goods, also referred to as the “bling-bling” lifestyle, in their songs and music videos. However, if we consider the symbolic value luxury extends to a culture that represents a predominantly Black urban youth demographic, there is a larger conversation occurring that pertains to social and political negotiation. A luxury lifestyle, embodied by the male Hip Hop figure, is an audacious assertion of mobility, autonomy and power in a neoliberal structure. To perceive Hip Hop’s representation of luxury in this way activates the agency of the Hip Hop artist to consciously use luxury as a tool to make the Black body visible in a national context that rendered it indiscernible. This study reimagines consumption as a transgressive tool used by Hip Hop artists Jay-Z and Kanye West through their collaborative album Watch the Throne (2011) to subvert traditional ideologies of the American dream and its actors. They exemplify the tenacity and self-definition of Hip Hop in particular and the Black diaspora in general.

Maeve Kelly is interested in costume design, particularly for film and television comedy. Her Masters thesis explores the link between clothing and humor, specifically through the costumes of Rachel Dratch’s characters on the sketch comedy series, Saturday Night Live.

I Look at Her and Immediately Start Laughing: How Saturday Night Live and Rachel Dratch Make Clothes Funny

This thesis examines the link between clothing and humor by exploring the costumes on the sketch comedy television show, Saturday Night Live, specifically those performed by comedienne Rachel Dratch. By studying the costumes of five characters – her Ally McBeal impression, Sheldon from the “Wake Up, Wakefield!” sketches, Virginia Klarvin of “The Lovers” sketches, Debbie Downer, and Qrlpt*xk – it argues that comedic costumes can be categorized as accurate, exaggerated or bizarre. This classification system is predicated on the level of familiarity between the character and the viewer, which is evoked by the costume itself.In order to demonstrate the successful evocation of familiar characters to the viewer, this thesis applies concepts of fashion theory to each costume to explain what is communicated about the character by its worn garments. Within this thesis, the messages conveyed by the clothing include gender, age, profession, and demeanor. Because the focus is on the link between clothing and humor, rather than clothing and personal signifiers, it is crucial to examine how these messages are subverted in order to be considered funny. Using concepts of humor theory, then, this thesis concludes that costumes are not merely connected to humor, but instead are an integral part of the audience’s amusement and the success of a comedic situation.Although costume design is occasionally addressed within the field of fashion studies, it is typically in reference to films with artfully designed or sensationalized costumes, such as historical period films or films where the characters are particularly fashionable. While films and television shows with average or plain costumes are generally neglected in discussions of costume design, the costumes in comedy films and television shows are overlooked entirely.This thesis provides original research and valuable insight to the field of fashion studies by suggesting that clothing is embedded with emotional cues that trigger amusement, in addition to previous research that suggests its capability to evoke recognition and information.

Nami Kim received her BA from Emory University in Economics and Art History before receiving her MA in Fashion Studies at Parsons The New School for Design. Her master’s thesis explores the inherent paradoxes of the dress practices in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while maintaining a broader interest in dress and the female form.

“Your Body is a Temple”: Modesty as a Spiritual Principle in Mormonism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) believes that bodies are temples and thus sacred. As a result, church authorities encourage modest dress among its members, particularly women, to conceal the sacred body. Modesty is readily applied after one is endowed in a temple ceremony, thereafter wearing sacred undergarments that should never show. Before one’s endowments, modesty is expected among the church’s youth, priming them to eventually wear garments. Beyond preparation for garments, however, Mormon women undergo negotiations in dressing modestly, as there is historical evidence and current implications that the female body has the power to tempt the opposite sex into sexual sin. Through official church documents and addresses given by church authorities, I explore the doctrinal basis for Mormon dress practices among unendowed members. I investigate the paradoxical reasons for modest dress among Mormon women, that is, clothing and covering the body temple or the body temptress. Do clothes cover the sacred or the seductress? With the inherent links among modesty, chastity, and virtue, I find through interviews with endowed and unendowed Mormon women that maintaining the church’s guidelines for modesty allow practicing members to preserve their devotion as it eliminates or subdues what they view as sexual sin. My thesis argues that the amount of skin exposed on a member in the Mormon church is considered a measure of the strength of one’s testimony, reiterating the inherent paradox that the body is both a temple and a site of temptation. In spite of numerous contradictions in Mormonism, I discover that the church’s strength arises from these paradoxes. Despite the inference of femme fatale in the church’s push for modest dress, however, I discover that some Mormon women find possibilities in producing and shaping their identities through modesty rather than viewing the concept as a set of repressive guidelines.

Anya Kurennaya is a graduating student in Parsons’ MA Fashion Studies program, having previously studied linguistics and foreign languages at the University of New Mexico and McGill University. Her article “Wearable Technology: Design at the Seams” was published in the Spring 2011 issue of Parsons’ re:D: Alumni Magazine. She relishes studying the intersections between fashion, art, and graphic design but likes taking the academic edge off by making guacamole and watching 1980s glam metal videos.

Look What the Cat Dragged In: Gender, Sexuality and Authenticity in 1980s Glam Metal

Throughout rock music’s history, its stars have explored the boundaries of dress and sexuality, but none have done it quite as fascinatingly as those of glam metal, a particular subgenre of heavy metal which took hold in the United States in the mid-1980s. The stars of glam metal often appropriate modes of dressing culturally associated with the idea of the feminine, such as extensive and highly styled hair and makeup, yet they still successfully communicate overtly masculine, even hyper-masculine, personae designed to snare women through their clothing, lifestyle, and the presentation of both in popular media. The resultant balancing of sartorial signifiers demonstrates glam metal’s emphasis on projecting a carefully calibrated sense of masculinity to its audience. As musicologist Robert Walser writes, metal is a cultural entity that offers lots of opportunities for doing identity work, and accomplishing gender is one form of identity work that merits particular focus. Using the visual material contained within the metal imagery, “pin-up” or centerfold, and the music video, this project takes upon the task of understanding how glam metal musicians accomplish gender, with particular emphasis on the way ideas about masculinity are packaged and presented to the consumer of such imagery. This project engages with the musical genre’s efforts to construct ideologies using the process of bricolage and also to subvert popularly received notions of gender, sexuality, and authenticity.

In addition to completing her MA at Parsons, Saara Lankarani is a freelance bookings assistant atGQ. She has worked at Elle and Vogue magazines where she found inspiration for her thesis, which inspired the premedical track she is about to embark on. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, and though the cosmopolitan lifestyle suits her well, she still misses the trees.

Real & Fantasy Body: Understanding Media Perceptions of Beauty and Fitness through Victoria’s Secret and Nutrition

This study explores media-generated perceptions of beauty and femininity through an angle of fitness and health. Specifically, in analyzing the lingerie company Victoria’s Secret, researching the social progression of the media’s sexualized woman through Victoria’s Secret models in the United States 21st century alongside shifts in nutrition and dietary habits of everyday individuals, dissecting the unique dialogue between media and visual consumers. The overarching research question explored was: what kind of role does the ‘real’ human body play in media and marketing constructions of beauty? More specifically, how do these interwoven and simultaneously distant worlds interact with and influence one another?It does not appear as coincidence that as Victoria’s Secret models and the other fantasy bodies of the advertising world have become thinner, the weight and health of the average American citizen has declined. The dichotomy between real and fantasy bodies is a relevant and inescapable issue to modern consumers, and reflects the idea that, the technical details of the ‘fantasy’ body that exists in advertisements are, in effect, not actually significant; it is their divergence and dissimilarity from ‘real,’ everyday bodies that allow them to sustain such a point of fascination. Herein lies the idea of myth as outlined by theorist Roland Barthes, who argued that the real and lasting effects of a myth can render a myth real regardless of it’s validity. By unpacking a series of academic texts alongside data pertaining to the state of health in the United States and an assessment of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, it is understood that the realm of fantasy retains its allure so long as it remains unachievable, therefore, the fantasy body must, by definition, be out of reach for the majority of individuals in order to sustain its widespread success.

Christine Mace graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Fashion Marketing. Her senior thesis delved into the sociological and psychological aspects of women’s desires to achieve the “ideal,” as mediated by the fashion industry. During her graduate studies Christine has conducted extensive research on sexuality and the body, specifically focusing on it’s mediation through fashion advertising.

Fashion or Porn? The Hyper-Sexualization of Western Culture and the Commodification of Sex

The deregulation of the pornography industry has paved the way for mainstreaming hyper-sexualized imagery in fashion advertising. The thesis examines this increasing sexualization, and its impact on contemporary culture. The ever-changing definition of sexuality in fashion advertising is unpacked and contextualized. The burgeoning phenomenon of a pornified American and Western European secular society from 1970 to contemporary culture is examined in the historical use of sexuality in fashion advertising and the role Tom Ford has played in the mediation of that phenomenon. An analysis of fashion advertisements from Helmet Newton, Calvin Klein and Tom Ford illuminates the proliferation of sexualized imagery generated by the fashion industry and the impact its on society. Finally, the mainstreaming of pornography, its relationship with fashion advertising and the continuous acceptance of a porno-chic culture explore the question: When is fashion porn, and when does porn become fashion?

Nira Shlimovich received her BA degree from Tel Aviv University, where she studied Psychology and Philosophy.  She works as a Teaching Assistant in Parsons and has a diverse experience in the fashion industry. Her thesis explores the sartorial journeys of aspiring New York fashion professionals, with a focus on the complex process of negotiating identities in the contemporary fashion industry.

Sartorial Journeys: Negotiating the Self in the New York Fashion Industry

This paper explores the ways in which young women who moved to New York to pursue fashion careers perform their role within the industry through dress. What is behind their everyday dress choices? How do they construct their professional identities through personal style?  The first section of this paper includes an analysis of the New York fashion industry’s popular media portrayal, and reveals its stereotypic representation which feeds into the imagination of young women. The second part of this research is based on in-depth interviews that present the individual stories of three young women who moved to New York to work in the fashion industry. Looking at the aspirations and dress practices of these women serves as a lens to a broader understanding of the actual experiences in the industry as opposed to the glamorous ideal that the media portrays. For the women in this research the act of dressing becomes a means to negotiate anxiety and fantasy when they move to New York to work in fashion. The intuitive, playful engagement with dress is replaced by a more deliberate approach when they are forced to construct their professional identities. Rather than focusing on ways to stand out through extreme styles, the move to New York makes these women turn inwards, define and anchor their personal aesthetic while hoping to appear effortless and consistent. Facing the tough reality of the fashion industry, they use their personal style to reinforce the self as a means to navigate through different niches in the industry. In a time when a fashion career becomes increasingly desirable, this research asks to consider the power of dress in negotiating one’s place in the fashion industry, to acknowledge the contradicting forces that influence the construction of fashion professionals’ personal styles.

Laura Snelgrove graduated from McGill University with a degree in Cultural Studies, writing a senior thesis on fantasy and reality in fashion photography. After some years spent working as a writer and editor, Laura moved to New York to begin the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons, where her research interests have spanned subjects including queer style, dress and national identity, and the relationship between fashion and violence, as explored in her masters’ thesis.

“So Fabulous You Wouldn’t Dare Lay A Hand on Her”: McQueen’s Fashioning of the Tough Women

This thesis performs a reading of selected examples from the work of Alexander McQueen through the lens of violence awareness, a state of being in which one is conscious of the potential eruption and consequences of gender-based violence. Drawing on theories of the body as they relate to dress, fear, and public space, I investigate how the archetype of the ‘tough’ woman or ‘bad girl’ appears in McQueen’s work as one possible response to the threat of violence. At its root, the relationship between dress and violence is an issue facing the female body in space. To understand this interaction of space, body, and appearance in making identity culturally intelligible, I rely upon Joanne Entwistle’s definition of dress as “a situated bodily practice which is embedded within the social world.” Seeing violence and the fear thereof as a similarly embodied discursive experience, I contend that dress can be a site of empowerment against such fears, and I seek meaningful imaginative examples of this possibility within McQueen’s designs. Chapter one engages with existing work on McQueen in Fashion Studies, focusing on how the themes of violence, anxiety, and ambivalence have been addressed. Chapter two outlines the theoretical positioning of the thesis, based upon works from Fashion Studies and Cultural and Media Studies, as well as Sociology and Feminist Geography. Chapter three analyzes runway photographs from throughout McQueen’s career for evidence of violenceawareness in the version of ‘toughness’ he presented. Chapter four turns to photographs from the catalog from the 2011 retrospective of his work at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for further examination of how violence hovers like a ghost over the designer’s work.

Shelley Wu graduated from the University of California-Los Angeles with a BA in Fine Arts, with a concentration in painting and drawing. Shelley’s thesis work in the MA Fashion Studies program in Parsons’ School of Art and Design History and Theory explores the intersection between fashion and sports.

On and Off the Court: “Where Amazing Happens,” But Dress Accordingly: How the National Basketball Association Designs its Brand Image Through Regulating Dress and Players’ Appearances

This thesis examines the National Basketball Association as a cultural and fashion brand that is continually seeking to redefine its brand image.  Based on an investigation of the NBA team franchises, individual NBA players, and an exploration of the relation between basketball and hip-hop, it looks at how the NBA designs its brand image and reconstructs its identity by implementing dress regulations and controlling how its players dress both on and off the court.  First, I examine when the NBA controls a player’s formal uniform on the court, analyzing the retro marketing behind Hardwood Classics Nights and the role of nostalgia in the aesthetic of retro-inspired team uniforms.  Second, I study the 2005 NBA Player’s Dress Code, where the league attempts to implement a mandatory “business casual” minimum dress as a way to manage a player’s off court appearances.  The use of literary texts, media sources and visual images provide historical and theoretical perspectives.  Through the scope of fashion, dress and body practices, I illustrate the ways in which key moments in basketball history, the surging popularity of retro branding and the shifting aesthetic of hip-hop style all engage with one another to shape the NBA’s dynamic image over time.  Seeking to bring together sport and fashion studies, this work reveals how NBA dress regulations complicate narratives on racial identity, space and time.  In focusing on the visual representations of the NBA through team uniforms and player’s dress practices, the thesis offers an original investigation on the relationship between basketball, fashion, fan culture, identity and music through the negotiation of style, uniformity and differentiation in popular culture.

Originally published on Insights, The Magazine of Parsons School of Art and Design History and Theory.



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