University of Technology Sydney

83341 Fashion Intersections

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 83119 Thinking Fashion AND 83231 Fashion Cultures AND 85502 Researching Design Histories AND 85503 Thinking Through Design


As well as a commercial industry producing and selling material commodities, fashion is also a way to understand changes in material culture and collective tastes; it is an intangible system of signification; it is a socio-cultural act at the heart of our identities the scope of which has been hugely amplified by the dynamics of modernity and postmodernity; and it is an aesthetic activity which exceeds any instrumentality. It is a thing that all human cultures have done throughout all of their histories and so it has many faces, most still unstudied. This course is an outline of the myriad ways fashion can be understood and of the major disciplines and theories that have tried to encompass it. While once only considered by costume historians, art historians, and museum curators, fashion is now widely studied and theorised in disciplines as diverse as anthropology, linguistics, cultural studies, economics, and sociology. Further to this, it is often explained in reference to social class, gender, sexuality, culture, and power. Continuing on from the themes of Thinking Fashion, and Fashion Cultures this subject explores these many modalities of fashion.
Students have an opportunity in this subject to conduct individual research through visual and written modes investigating a range of fashion related visual materials and their scholarly interpretations including: the history of fashion imagery, fashion photography, film, advertising, museology, visual art and architecture, and fashion theory and practice texts. And most crucially for philosophical and creative discovery students have the opportunity to critically adapt individual historical and/or theoretical research into their own studio design practice.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

1. research, source and debate ideas as the basis for informed design development
2. analyse and interpret information to inform new avenues of personal research
3. explore creative interpretation of ideas into design solutions
4. explore a wide range of references to inform individual design practice
5. present appropriate visual and written representation of ideas and designs.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the social and ethical responsibilities of a fashion and textile designer (A.2)
  • Demonstrated understanding of appropriate academic and professional practice in the acknowledgement of others' work and ideas (A.3)
  • Ability to collaborate and work with others, including within diverse social and cultural contexts (C.1)
  • Effectively communicate concepts in fashion and textiles in performative, oral, visual and written forms (C.2)
  • Respond to constructive criticism and feedback (C.3)
  • Accuracy, rigour and care (P.5)
  • Analyse and synthesise knowledge in both visual and written forms to undertake in-depth research. (R.1)
  • Ability to construct well-supported arguments and rationale (R.2)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The term CAPRI is used for the five Design, Architecture and Building faculty graduate attribute categories where:

C = communication and groupwork

A = attitudes and values

P = practical and professional

R = research and critique

I = innovation and creativity.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs) are linked to these categories using codes (e.g. C-1, A-3, P-4, etc.).

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject has been designed to support learning in design theory, where there are both conceptual and practical implications. There is focus on the incremental development of critical thinking, writing skills and a self-defined understanding of praxis in design thinking (the exchange between design theory and practice). A Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach assists in developing critical and conceptual design thinking in response to student-identified problems.

One-hour weekly interactive lectures engage students with conceptual topics and encourages their response through the preparatory readings available on UTS online. This flipped-classroom approach offers dialogic learning opportunities where critique is a core-pedagogy. Concepts are discussed in depth during the 2.5 hour weekly studio sessions where students develop their ideas and respond to informed social analysis and critique, all of which contributes to the assessment tasks.

The Assessment tasks authentically activate critical thinking through PBL research, critical discussion and analysis. Students are expected to attend and participate in the interactive lecture sessions. As well as to prepare research to discuss in the studio during critique sessions, debates and presentations. The associated assessment tasks follow suggested progress patterns and offer opportunity for further reflection. They also allow for diversity in research topics and self-directed enquiry.

Teaching & learning strategies are supported through:

  1. Interactive lectures, including the use of live interviews and interactive flipped learning software like Nearpod or Baiboard.
  2. Dialogic and social learning opportunities, including a debate about controversial issues in Fashion (informed by self-directed and group scholarly research)
  3. Annotate supports the online collaborative interaction with reading materials. Critical reading is activated through the students' response to weekly questions
  4. UTS library – development of a research workshop
  5. UTS online e-portfolio is used to compile assessment tasks, reflective comments and feedback.

Feedback from the tutors is facilitated through both formative and summative assessments. In the studio sessions students receive formative feedback from peers and tutors. This group work offers a dialogic learning opportunity to support debate and intensify the practice of critique. The assessment tasks offer a balance between individual and group work and include: individual research; social discussion and peer feedback; and opportunities for reflective responses to formative feedback.

The design of assessment tasks for this subject has focussed on these key characteristics of authentic tasks (UNSW, 2016):

  • Real world relevance
  • Tasks are Ill-defined, requiring students to define the tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete the activity.
  • Comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time
  • Provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from different perspectives using a variety of resources
  • Provide the opportunity to collaborate
  • Provide the opportunity to reflect
  • Create polished products valuable in their own right rather than as preparation for something else
  • Allow competing solutions and diversity of outcome

Dimensions of authentic assessment has also being considered including (after Mueller, 2010):

  • Structure of problems – unpredictable
  • Cognitive activity – higher order
  • Learner agency – learner-defined
  • Application of learning – direct evidence

Reference: UNSW, (2016). Assessment Toolkit, Assessing Authentically (adapted from University of Wollongong, Faculty of Education resource (2005) – Authentic Task Design.

Content (topics)

The subject is facilitated through a combination of interactive lectures and studio classes. Opportunities for dialogic learning and discussion, visual learning and critical thinking are included in the program to promote research methods, inquiry, conceptual thinking and critique. Interactive lectures and online reading/response tools promote theoretical inquiry and observation of case studies that pre-empt research-led-design thinking and practice, they are forums for the contextualisation of briefs. The subject covers the following topic areas:

1. The main focuses of contemporary fashion scholarship.?

2. The language of clothes: semiotics of fashion and scholarly fashion theory discourse.?

3. Further issues of 'difference', for instance, cultural, sub-culture, disability, age, class structures, including the social psychology and philosophies of dress and an awareness of the role of dress in relation to cultural and social constructs.

4. An introduction to fashion theory and history.

5. Design thinking – challenging design practice through research-led design project work incorporating creative, reflective, critical and speculative design thinking.

Specific themes include:

  • The differences between fashion, clothing, dress, uniform and costume (fashion theory and sociology)
  • The construction and performance of gender through fashion and gender ambiguity (gender theory)
  • Fashion and semiotics (semiotics and image analysis)
  • Fashion history (relationship between history and theory, critical analysis of scholarly sources)
  • Design thinking – practical applications of theory and history to fashion design
  • Subcultural fashion manifestations and their role in socio-political cultural history
  • The philosophy of ethics in relation to sustainability in fashion (questioning the ecological, economic and social sustainability of the fashion industry)


Assessment task 1: Journal Article


This assessment task is aimed at developing a broad understanding of the discourses that Fashion Theory engages with, the ways in which the body has been theorised historically and current shifts in this understanding in relation to culture and the rise of Fashion Theory as a rigorous contribution to the fabric of research. In this task you will engage with visual and text based research methods and undertake critical analysis of key concepts in fashion theory. Research a key concept in fashion theory. Undertake a critical analysis of the selected theoretical idea/s and develop a synethesis of the findings from both visual and text based research methods. Clearly communicate a sequential interpretation of these ideas through academic writing and intepret this research through a set of visual images and accompanying text-based annotations. In this task you will engage with visual and text based research methods and undertake critical analysis of key concepts in fashion theory.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

A.3, C.1, C.2, C.3, P.5, R.1 and R.2

Type: Essay
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

A4 PDF file Written Essay Component to be 800 words and Visual Essay is to be 8 visuals max (3 minimum visuals to be created) with annotations.

Assessment task 2: Fashion Research Project


This assessment task requires students to devise a project that develops their own research practice for fashion design alongside an exegesis and in depth understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. Develop an individual design research project which synthesises fashion theory and visual practice-based research into a completed creative studio practice project.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

A.2, C.2, C.3, P.5 and R.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%

Minimum requirements

The DAB attendance policy requires students to attend no less than 80% of formal teaching sessions (lectures and tutorials) for each class they are enrolled in to remain eligible for assessment.

Required texts

Weekly Readings will be avaliable on UTS Online

BERG Fashion library (database) accessible through UTS library

Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, Oxford: Berg 1997- eJournal online access via UTS library

Recommended texts

Jansen, M. & Slade, T. 2020. Fashion Theory: Special Issue of Decoloniality and Fashion. Volume 24. Issue 6.

Agnès Rocamora & Anneke Smelik (Eds) 2015. Thinking Through Fashion: A Guide to Key Theorists. London: Taurus.

Michael Carter, 2017. Being Prepared: Aspects of Dress and Dressing. Sydney: Puncher and Wattmann.

Peter McNeil, 2018. Pretty Gentlemen: Macaroni Men and the Eighteenth-Century Fashion World. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Eicher, J. B. & Evenson. S. L. 2015. The Visible Self: Global Perspectives on Dress, Culture, and Society, 4th edn. London: Bloomsbury.

Miller-Spillman, K. A., Reilly, A. & Hunt-Hurst, P. (eds) 2012. The Meanings of Dress, 3rd edn. New York: Fairchild Books.

Welters, L. & Lillethun, A. (eds) 2011. The Fashion Reader, 2nd edn, Oxford: Bloomsbury.

Steele, V. (ed) 2010. The Berg Companion to Fashion, Oxford: Berg.

McNeil, P. (ed) 2008. Fashion: Critical and Primary Sources, Oxford: Berg.

McNeil, P. (ed) 2010. The Fashion History Reader: Global Perspectives, Routledge, New York.

McNeil, P. (ed) 2009. The Men’s Fashion Reader, Oxford: Berg.

Craik, J. 2009. Fashion: the Key Concepts, Oxford: Berg.

Francis, P. 2009. Inspiring Writing in Art and Design: Taking a Line for a Write, Intellect, Bristol & Chicago.


The V&A Fashion Theory reading list

Student support and other information Free journals on the web Daily News Record:

International Herald Tribune:

Ntouch: journal from the London Institute of Fashion.

Women's Wear Daily:

Other resources

UTS library Harvard referencing guide:

UTS library subject guide Fashion & Textiles:

The BERG Fashion Library database (via UTS library website)