This course offers an overview of the political economy of the 21st century fashion industry. Focusing on specific transnational supply chains, we follow the globalized production and consumption of garments and brands, and examine closely the debates about gender and globalization, economic and social development, labor standards, sustainability and activism. Some of the questions we will explore include: How do we account for the globalization of the garment industry? What are the politics of today’s global “fast fashion” industry both in the global South and in the North? Do alternatives such as ethical fashion initiatives by designers, programs for corporate social responsibility and campaigns of consumer activism offer meaningful interventions? What role do workers in the fashion industry—from garment workers to retail workers, to models—play in shaping discussions about a more just and sustainable future for fashion? We draw from interdisciplinary scholarship ranging from anthropology and sociology to media studies and race and ethnic studies. Readings for this course may include: Sarah Banet-Weiser’s Commodity Activism ; Jane Collins Threads: Gender, Labor Power in the Global Apparel Industry; Jill Esbenshade’s Monitoring Sweatshops: Workers, Consumers, and the Global Apparel Industry ; Kendra Coulter’s Revolutionizing Retail: Workers, Political Action, and Social Change ; Naila Kabeer’s The Power to Choose ; Nancy Plankey Videla We are in this Dance Together; and Lisa Richey’s Brand Aid .
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)