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Reporting back on ‘Fashion and Ethnicity’ Post-Grad Interest Group’s 2021 Meetups

various beaded bracelets laid out on a table
  • Written byPost-Grad Community
  • Published date28 April 2021
various beaded bracelets laid out on a table
Bracelets used for object analysis, PhD Candidate Anushka Tay (2020).

Written by the Fashion and Ethnicity Post-Grad Interest Group


We all wear clothes, but clothing and dress experiences vary significantly according to who wears them and their location. Recent meetings of the Fashion and Ethnicity Post-Grad Interest Group brought together students from various backgrounds and courses across University of the Arts London (UAL)  to participate in interactive workshops and lively discussions.

Our regular group meetups provide a welcoming and open space to consider the meanings and ramifications of ethnicity in fashion and dress practices worldwide.

— Fashion and Ethnicity Post-Grad Interest Group

London College of Fashion PhD student Anushka Tay led an object-handling workshop at our December 2020 meeting, which drew on her methodology for her PhD research in Chinese diaspora dress practices. Alongside the excitement, sparkle and glamour of Chinese dress, Anushka’s research delicately considers the familiar and the taken-for-granted amongst everyday objects.

During the workshop, members brought along two objects: a personal item of clothing and a second one which they felt reflected their culture or heritage. What this meant was open to interpretation! Members shared each item’s histories amongst the group, from a special piece of jewellery given to a treasured relative, to a sentimental sweatshirt reminiscent of a 1990s childhood. Anushka led participants through a series of activities, moving between individual reflection, creative writing tasks, and group discussion. It was a chance to tap into our assumptions, and make comparisons across cultures and time-periods.

various beaded bracelets laid out on a table
Bracelets used for object analysis, PhD Candidate Anushka Tay (2020).

Our first meeting of 2021 was an open session. Members brought their current interests and projects to the group, under the umbrella of three topics:

  • 'Embodied practice and the gaze'
  • 'Mimicry and re-appropriation of the post-colonial in fashion'
  • 'Design ethics and representations of dress cultures'

The discussion of these three topics bridged the gap between theory, practice, and social life by bringing in personal experience and anecdotes from members in attendance.

For the second meeting of 2021, which took place in March, the Fashion and Ethnicity Post-Grad Interest Group hosted an interactive workshop called “Language in Fashion and Sustainability” led by Rawan Maki, PhD Candidate at London College of Fashion. Through a series of guided reflected exercises, attendees considered the material, cognitive, and social aspects of objects which they had brought along and how those related to sustainability (or not!). Rawan then shared emerging findings from her research on language and sustainability within the Bahraini fashion context.

Activity Example

Bring an object that is the epitome of sustainability to you.

Why did you bring this item? What about this item signifies sustainability to you? (<1min)

Individually, with a notepad and paper or a document, brainstorm on the following qulalities of this object or garment:

  • Its material properties (1 min) What materials is it made of? How do they feel to you? Do its materials lend a function to you?
  • Your conitive relationship to it (1min) How does it make you feel? Do you see it as part of a ‘trend’ of affliliation?  What does it invoke in you?
  • Its social relationships, to you and others (1 min) Where was it purchased? What kind of life does it conduct, who sees it?
screenshot of the participants at Fashion and Ethnicity’ Post-Grad Interest Group
Participants at the Fashion and Ethnicity Post-Grad Interest Group

Language: Everyday, how fashion is experienced

table with arabic meaning translations
screenshot of the participants at Fashion and Ethnicity’ Post-Grad Interest Group
Participants at the Fashion and Ethnicity Post-Grad Interest Group

We welcome the UAL community and students to join our meetings, for a chance to discuss your studies, interests, and queries relating to 'fashion and ethnicity' in its broadest sense. Since our members come from a range of backgrounds, from design to engineering and from history to making, our group is an interesting cross-disciplinary space to host discussions outside of your course boundaries.

Next Meet

Fashion and Ethnicity's next meeting will be on Thursday, 6 May, at 2 pm – led by Kadian A Gosler – chairing a session on race, fashion, and the gaze titled 'Can I wear this? Should I wear this?: Who is allowed the pleasures of fashion?' She explores the violent gaze that threatens to alter and erode the wearers' experience of clothing. A group discussion will follow, exploring the use of reflexivity and auto-ethnography as a method to interrogate fashions' limitations and subvert patriarchal colonialism control on whose experiences matter.

Please RSVP via email to fashionandethnicity@gmail.com.

The Fashion and Ethnicity Post-Grad Interest Group meets on the first Thursday of each month online.

Open to PhD and MA students at UAL 

The group aims to be an open, inclusive group which welcomes postgraduate students at UAL and other interested parties.

Importantly, the group will host both researchers and practitioners, teachers and students, to facilitate new ways of understanding by providing opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaboration.

For more information about the group and what to expect from the meetings, please visit the Fashion and Ethnicity Post-Grad Interest Group page.


Post-Grad Interest Groups

UAL’s Post-Grad Community supports a growing number of issue-specific, cross-disciplinary interest groups led by postgraduate students and academics.

​These groups connect creatives with shared research/practice interests across different specialisms and subject areas.

PhD students have launched interest groups in the past to coincide with exhibitions and symposiums that they have organised under the same theme. Students have also used Interest Groups as a working group towards research or a standalone event or series.

​Want to start an Interest Group?

Visit the Post-Grad Interest Group Directory