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Understanding Fashion: From Business to Culture

Discover the business of fashion and understand the cultural impact of the fashion industry with Institut Français de la Mode.

165,556 enrolled on this course

A Fashion industry model poses wearing a colourful outfit with tassel sleeves.
  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Take a deep dive into the fashion world with unique insights from Chanel & YSL

Curious about how the fashion industry has transformed and shaped Western culture over the last 150 years?

This 4-week course delves into the fashion world and investigates fashion as both a cultural phenomenon and a creative industry.

You will explore the interaction between fashion, society and business with top fashion designers and professors from Institut Français de la Mode.

Where does fashion actually come from? You will start the course by answering this question and learning about modern fashion and its contemporary relevance.

Explore the rise of the fashion industry during the industrial revolution and evaluate how brands incorporate modernity into their designs. The course features case studies from luxury fashion brands such as Gucci, Paul Smith, Jacquemus …

Investigate the role of fashion designers and brands

You will reflect on the relationship between fashion and politics, and ask whether fashion designers and brands have the power to be social actors.

You will also explore fashion codes and the language of fashion, considering whether fashion brands are indeed creative languages.

Understand consumption in the fashion industry

In your final week, you will investigate fashion consumption and develop an understanding of how fashion functions as a social marker and identity construct.

You will evaluate what it takes to create and develop a fashion collection, and you look at the intersections between trends, seasonality and innovation.

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  • Week 1

    Fashion and the rise of modern culture

    • Getting started

      Welcome to the course!

    • Fashion and modernity: the new as principle

      How did fashion come into being?

    • Three conceptions of modernity

      What are the three ways of being modern?

    • Case study: brands and ways to be modern

      What are the three fashion models of novelty? Let's study some examples!

    • Test Yourself

      What did you learn that first week?

  • Week 2

    Fashion and society

    • Fashion as a social distinction mechanism?

      Where does fashion originate from?

    • The functioning logics of the fashion field

      What are the logics of the fashion field?

    • The subcultural clothing: a bottom-up model?

      What is the bottom-up model?

    • Case study: fashion brands as social actors

      Can fashion brands really be social actors?

    • Test yourself

      What did you learn that second week?

  • Week 3

    Fashion as a language

    • The fashion code

      Is fashion really a language? Let's compare it to communication models!

    • Can fashion creation speak?

      If fashion cannot be considered as a language, but only as a "code", can it at least be meaningful?

    • How to read a silhouette?

      What is the method for reading a silhouette?

    • Test Yourself

      What did you learn that third week?

  • Week 4

    Fashion, production and consumption

    • Fashion as an industry

      What are the specificities of the fashion industry?

    • Fashion as consumption

      How to explain fashion consumption?

    • Case study: explaining attempts of the purchase of the little black dress

      How to explain a buying behaviour?

    • Alternative consumption, counter-cultures and counter-hegemonic bricolage

      How to define counter-cultural consumption?

    • General conclusion

      What did you learn this fourth week?

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop transdisciplinary knowledge and expertise aimed at understanding the logics of the contemporary fashion field
  • Identify the creative models of the different fashion houses and their conception of time
  • Explore the trends diffusion models
  • Interpret a fashion silhouette
  • Explain the construction of consumer behaviour

Who is the course for?

Whether you are passionate about fashion and interested in making a career in this field, or are a marketing student intrigued by consumer culture or indeed an experienced fashion professional looking to deepen your knowledge, this course is designed for you. Anyone looking to deepen and specialise their knowledge of the fashion industry will benefit greatly from the leanings on this course.

This course will also be relevant to fashion entrepreneurs who need a holistic view of the industry’s key success factors.

This course is supported by DEFI.

Who will you learn with?

I am a permanent professor at Institut Français de la Mode, where I teach fashion theory and fashion brands strategy. My background is in analytic philosophy and social sciences.

Who developed the course?

Institut Français de la Mode (IFM)

IFM (Institut Français de la Mode) is a higher education institution specialising in the textile, fashion, luxury and design industries, based in Paris, France.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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