The Fabric of Cultures 2.0: 2016-2017  is a research and pedagogic lab that aims at a deeper understanding of fashion and local and global clothing as powerful manifestations of human and aesthetic expression and as barometers of economic, social and technological transformations.

In 2016, a new configuration of the Fabric of Cultures project was launched as Fabric of Cultures 2.0: 2016-2017/Systems in the Making. The first question we faced in the 2.0 version was how to translate the new concepts of the project in such a way as to give it a new structure and create a framework within which to group 14-16 garments we wanted to examine and include in this initial archive. We decided upon the acronym T-I-P: T as in T- Shirts, I as in Intersections, and P as in Pleats. (See Gallery). Fabric of Cultures 2.0 has taken the form of classes and workshops guided by these concepts. Students reflected on concepts in blog posts organized by the categories, Memories, Observations, Craft. A conference in May 2017 follows, and in September this phase of the project will culminate in an exhibition at Queens College.

The project, originally launched as Fabric of Cultures: Fashion, Identity, Globalization at Queens College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, has a relatively long history that dates back to 2003. The initial idea for this project, which took on material form in 2006, was based on my experience as a teacher in both CUNY institutions as well as on my research on the relationship between fashion and identity in the context of the rich multicultural composition of the borough of Queens and New York in general

Fabric of Cultures was originally aimed at illustrating the intimate connections between theory and practice that are at the core of the study of the materiality of texts whether written or in the form of any process of curating or crafting. It resulted in two publications: a catalogue of the first exhibit and a volume of collected essays.

One of the most important outcomes of this multifaceted project was the awareness that fashion needed to be studied in larger social, cultural, economic and aesthetic contexts. Objects can be the medium of this important investigation. Fashion and clothing are part of cultural memory and heritage and contribute to shaping the way people interact, behave, consume etc. One other very important result was the recognition within CUNY of a new field of academic enquiry: Fashion Studies. A PhD concentration was approved at the Graduate Center, CUNY and later a track in Fashion Studies in the MA in Liberal Studies at the Graduate Center CUNY.

In 2.0, the Fabric of Cultures project has found another medium and has embraced a new perspective on theory and practice. Through the creation of a digital research and pedagogic lab, new collaborations with people interested in continuing or starting a collective interdisciplinary dialogue has informed the project.

– Eugenia Paulicelli

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