Fashion Theory

An Introduction

By Malcolm Barnard

© 2014 – Routledge

236 pages | 15 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415496216
pub: 2014-03-26
US Dollars$49.95
Hardback: 9780415496209
pub: 2014-04-02
US Dollars$160.00

Look Inside e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Fashion is both big business and big news. From models’ eating disorders and sweated labour to the glamour of a new season's trends, statements and arguments about fashion and the fashion industry can be found in every newspaper, consumer website and fashion blog. Books which define, analyse and explain the nature, production and consumption of fashion in terms of one theory or another abound. But what are the theories that run through all of these analyses, and how can they help us to understand fashion and clothing?

Fashion Theory: an introduction explains some of the most influential and important theories on fashion: it brings to light the presuppositions involved in the things we think and say about fashion every day and shows how they depend on those theories. This clear, accessible introduction contextualises and critiques the ways in which a wide range of disciplines have used different theoretical approaches to explain – and sometimes to explain away – the astonishing variety, complexity and beauty of fashion. Through engaging examples and case studies, this book explores:

  • fashion and clothing in history
  • fashion and clothing as communication
  • fashion as identity
  • fashion, clothing and the body
  • production and consumption
  • fashion, globalization and colonialism
  • fashion, fetish and the erotic.

This book will be an invaluable resource for students of cultural studies, sociology, gender studies, fashion design, textiles or the advertising, marketing and manufacturing of clothes.


There is thought-provoking, scholarly value in Barnard's summaries and examinations, Summing Up: Recommended.- C. E. Berg, Museum of History and Industry, CHOICE Review

‘Malcolm Barnard’s Fashion Theory is more than just "an introduction". He sets out a clear account of major theorists’ ideas in the context of key writers on fashion, and shows how some of the most abstract theory is implicated in the merest comment on, or second glance at, the clothes people wear. This book will be an invaluable resource for students of cultural studies, the social sciences and of course the many practical disciplines that study fashion. Anyone who wants to get seriously involved with fashion or clothing needs to be able to understand the ideas behind them – and Barnard’s book is the go-to place to get that understanding.’

Tim Dant, Professor of Sociology, Lancaster Universit, UK

‘Malcolm Barnard’s Fashion Theory: an introduction is the most comprehensive, convincing and yet accessible book imaginable as an introduction geared specifically for students in fashion design. The book is unique, lucid and utterly concrete in its message that no statement about fashion is innocent. Barnard manages to explicate not only the inevitably political dimension of fashion, but – and partly as an extension of this – to convey a deep and multidimensional sense of the relationship between fashion and representation.’

Brian Seitz, Professor of Philosophy, Babson College, US

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Fashion and Fashion Theories 3. What Fashion Is and Is Not 4. What Fashion and Clothing Do 5. Fashion and/in History 6. Fashion as Communication 7. Fashion, Identity and Difference 8. Fashion, Clothes and the Body 9. Fashion Production and Consumption 10. Modern and Postmodern Fashion 11. Globalization and Colonialism 12. Fashion and (the) Image 13. Fashion, Fetish and the Erotic 14. Conclusion

About the Author

Malcolm Barnard is Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at Loughborough University, where he teaches the history and theory of art and design. His interests lie in the theories and philosophies of art and design, especially the areas of fashion and graphic design.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
DESIGN / Fashion
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General