Online course in Creative Arts & Media

Understanding Fashion: From Business to Culture

Explore the two inseparable aspects of fashion: commerce and culture.

  • Duration 4 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $54 Find out more

Why join the course?

There are two very different sides to ‘Fashion’: one is the apparel industry, and the other is the ‘Zeitgeist’ of a specific point in time. This semantic ambiguity is not a coincidence. The clothing industry was the first in History to rely on the principle of novelty, making new products desirable simply because they are new. For almost 150 years, fashion has been a deep cultural mechanism, that has transformed almost every part of Western culture.

What topics will you cover?

The course is structured into 4 chapters:

  1. Fashion and modernity: contemporary relevance, ‘Zeitgeist, and the desirability of the new.

  2. Fashion and society: the concept of trends, social distinction and selection, culture and subcultures.

  3. Fashion as a language: decoding silhouettes, the genre of fashion literature and fashion press.

  4. Fashion and consumption: fashion and gender, the emergence of ‘lifestyle’, fetishism.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

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?

The aim of this class is to introduce students to the inseparable commercial and cultural sides of fashion. It is intended for:

  • Marketing students or young professionals who want to specialise in fashion.

  • Experienced fashion professionals who want to refresh or enlarge their knowledge of the field.

  • Present or future fashion entrepreneurs who need a comprehensive view on the industry’s key success factors.

Who will you learn with?

Benjamin Simmenauer

Benjamin Simmenauer

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?

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

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.


Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 6 weeks


Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Unlimited (New!)
$239 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.