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Understanding Fashion: From Business to Culture

Institut Français de la Mode via FutureLearn

This course may be unavailable.


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.

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.


  • Fashion and the rise of modern culture
    • Getting started
    • Fashion and modernity: the new as principle
    • Three conceptions of modernity
    • Case study: brands and ways to be modern
    • Test Yourself
  • Fashion and society
    • Fashion as a social distinction mechanism?
    • The functioning logics of the fashion field
    • The subcultural clothing: a bottom-up model?
    • Case study: fashion brands as social actors
    • Test yourself
  • Fashion as a language
    • The fashion code
    • Can fashion creation speak?
    • How to read a silhouette?
    • Test Yourself
  • Fashion, production and consumption
    • Fashion as an industry
    • Fashion as consumption
    • Case study: explaining attempts of the purchase of the little black dress
    • Alternative consumption, counter-cultures and counter-hegemonic bricolage
    • General conclusion

Taught by

Adrian Kammarti


4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 403 ratings

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