LETTER FROM THE CO-EDITORS

 
 
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Issue 1/Volume 1


June 25, 2018
Toronto, ON, Canada
 

Two years ago, we decided to stop lamenting the problems with the system of journal publishing in fashion and change it. We not only occupied privileged positions as tenured professors but we also believed that we had the responsibility to do so for the good of the public and the future of fashion. We are a Fashion Historian trained in Art History and Material Culture and Fashion Sociologist with a background in Women’s Studies and Consumer Culture — who have both dabbled in creative work. We benefit from the constant interaction with creative practitioners in our workplace. We believe that collaboration can make our work and our field stronger and that our teaching, research, and practice suffers when it is siloed. Our goals in starting Fashion Studies are threefold. These aims are ambitious, but we are nothing if not idealists.

First, we wanted to transform the exploitative system of journal publishing that enables mammoth corporations to double-dip into taxpayer dollars. In our Canadian context, universities and national granting agencies are publicly funded: taxpayers are paying for the salaries and research grants of professors. When our work is ready to be published, academic journals — most owned by multi-million dollar companies including those in the field of fashion — keep our articles locked behind expensive paywalls. University libraries are forced to pay millions of dollars from their taxpayer-funded budgets to access the research that their own employees write, while the public — without access to university libraries—are forced to pay for each and every article. Should scholars want to make their articles freely available, journals ask them to pay in excess of $2000 CND from their personal research budgets. It was important to us that the work published here is available at no cost to all people and organizations who want to access it.

Second, the strength of fashion as an academic field is grounded it its rich transdisciplinarity, yet these diverse theoretical, creative, and industry voices have been siloed. Humanities scholars and Social Scientists publish in different spaces and rarely engage with each other’s contributions. Design-based and creative researchers have few formal academic venues in which to publish their work. There are also few channels for scholars and industry to exchange ideas, even though researchers provide critiques of and solutions for practice and industry offers contextual understandings to enhance research. Fashion Studies is dedicated to not only publishing interdisciplinary scholarly essays and creative work but also to creating dialogue between research and industry — starting with the panel at our launch event — which we will share.

Third, we hope to encourage researchers to not only advance knowledge but also to use that knowledge to change the world through fashion. Many horrific problems caused by the industry impact the world far beyond it, from the lack of diversity on and off the runway, to exploitative and inequitable labour practices, to ecologically unsustainable production and consumption systems. Fashion Studies is a forum for scholars to engage with these issues by uncovering the colonialist, white supremacist, patriarchal, ableist, and sizeist structures that are reinforced by fashion and also to initiate proposals that pave the way for a new system in which justice reigns.   

With all this in mind, we are thrilled to launch our first issue! In the 14 pieces included in this issue (thus far!), authors discuss topics including the politics and surveillance of Black hair at work; the psychology of clothing and happiness; the history of ogling, quizzing, and spying on the body in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; new creative research on tattooing and body adornment; and a street style photo essay on fashion in New York. As an online journal, issue 1 is ongoing until June 2019. We have rolling submissions, and we will continue to publish in this issue thanks to our online platform, because we are not constrained by a print format. While the journal is accessible online, readers may download all paginated articles. Be sure to regularly check our journal for new articles and we invite you to send us your submissions.

We want to thank Jaclyn Marcus, our journal’s editorial assistant from the MA Fashion at Ryerson University. Without her talent, hard work, and passionate belief in our mission, this journal would not have seen the light of your screen or smart phone. Alexa Jovanovic’s design vision has informed this project from the beginning. From our logo to the finished work, Alexa’s impeccable talent had translated our vision into a compelling, user-centred experience. We also appreciate Jake Benaim’s design help. Thank you to our international editorial board for believing in our journal and lending your enthusiastic support and expertise. We are also grateful to those who have generously served as peer-reviewers for the wide range of work that appears here. Blind peer-review is the gold standard of academic publishing, but it would not happen without the labour and criticality of busy experts in the field. Thank you to the Centre for Fashion Diversity & Social Change that is generously funded by the School of Fashion and the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University, and to Michel Ghanem for assisting with our launch event. Because we are an open-access journal, we require institutional support to share this knowledge with the world. Our Dean Charles Falzon, Associate Deans Charles Davis, and Jean Bruce, and Ryerson University Librarians Naomi Eichenlaub, Brian Cameron, and Ann Ludbrook have been encouraging of this endeavour from the start. We thank Jennifer MacInnis for her counsel and Rose Sandino for her assistance. Thank you to Adam Chboryk, Michelle Chaisson, Patrick Fung, Dasha Pasiy, and Dr. Jennifer Poole for their support. We have learned so much from pioneering scholars in our field and beyond, the generosity of our colleagues, and the creativity of our students. As tenured faculty members, we feel it is now our turn to welcome a new generation of diverse voices into the field that we love, and which welcomed us with such compassion and encouragement.

We acknowledge that the land on which this journal is housed is Indigenous.  On this land, there has been a vibrant fashion culture for over 15,000 years. While the field of fashion has referred to Indigenous clothing as “dress” or “costume,” we use the word “fashion” to transform the Western-centric boundaries and hierarchies of the fashion system and academic knowledge.

With incredible support, we have created this space for exchange. We now invite all of you to help build the future of Fashion Studies and our transdisciplinary field together. Academic and creative work is never complete but exists in a state of constant transformation. We hope that you will draw upon, critique, and continue the work published here in your teaching, research, and creative practice. May it inspire discussions in seminars, the development of analytical frameworks, the ideation of creative concepts, and the re-thinking of industry practices. We also hope that Fashion Studies is not just a journal but a space to foster dialogue and develop new international networks across disciplines. Happy viewing! Happy reading! Happy making!
 

Much love,
 

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Dr. Alison Matthews David

 

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Dr. Ben Barry

 

Co-Editors, Fashion Studies

Centre for Fashion Diversity & Social Change

Ryerson University