More than just clothing

Fashion Week aims to spark social justice conversations

UWL faculty, staff and students are weaving the world of fashion into an academic discussion.

“It’s not just aesthetics,” says Marc Manke, co-organizer of the event. “This is a cultural space.”

That is one thread of UWL’s upcoming Fashion Week. The event will look at social justice issues — including environmental sustainability, racial and other personal identities — through the lens of fashion.

“Things like fashion and other items from pop culture are easily dismissed, but there’s so much symbolism involved,” explains Terry Lilley, co-organizer of the event. “This can hopefully get students excited and bring people to discussions on social justice.”

Fashion Week starts Monday, Oct. 23, with a lecture by Tanisha Ford, the author of “Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul,” and 2016 Liberty Legacy Foundation award recipient from the Organization of American Historians. Ford will discuss the history of soul style as a strategy of resistance.

Throughout the week, programs include films, scholars and designers from around the country to explore how fashion connects with themes of gender, race, class, sexuality and the environment. More details can be found on the event’s Facebook Page.

The programs are a collaboration across multiple departments, colleges and student organizations. “While members in the College of Liberal Studies can provide critical insights and measure impacts, we don’t have the expertise on things like sustainable business models or creating alternative fabrics,” says Lilley. “Our peers in the other colleges can talk about that.”

Along with social justice conversations, there is also supplies available for students to create new pieces of clothing. Materials are available in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Office, 4300 Centennial Hall. The new styles will be modeled during a fashion show on the final day of Fashion Week during the Fashion Symposium in the Cameron Hall of Nations starting at noon.