Secondhand Fashion

Parsons School of Design: Art and Design History

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Secondhand Fashion
Spring 2023
Taught By: Heike Jenss
Section: A

CRN: 13945

Credits: 3

In this seminar we will explore the lives and histories of secondhand clothing. As our pre-worn and discarded clothes travel through time, and often across various countries around the world, they enter new uses: Being re-worn they take on new value when they become part of a new wearer’s life who invests these ‘old’ clothes with their own meaning. They also turn into new commodities, resold in a range of retail venues that assign them meanings such as ‘rags,’ ‘thrift,’ or ‘vintage.’ Rising to the rank of ‘collector’s item’ their function as a garment may even be put on hold, when old clothes make it into museum spaces. Yet, while historically clothes were of such high value that they served as currency, the overproduction of today’s fashion has an unprecedented environmental impact with so many clothes ending up as landfill. In this seminar we will explore this shifting value of clothing and fashion and ask how discarded clothes get revived, re-styled or re-designed, inhabited and invested with new meanings. Case-studies lead us into various historic and cultural contexts: from the reselling of secondhand clothes in nineteenth century China, connections between clothing waste and 'charity', reappropriations of military uniforms including in colonial contexts, secondhand clothes as symbols of resistance or individual style, for example in counter-hegemonic or youth contexts where they get entangled with politics around class, gender, race, place or nationality.

Open to: All university undergraduate students. Pre-requisite(s): first-year university writing course and at least two prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture. One of these courses should be 3000-level.

College: Parsons School of Design (PS)

Department: Art and Design History (PLAD)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 20

Add/Drop Deadline: February 5, 2023 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2023 (Sunday)

Seats Available: No

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 1:28am EDT 3/30/2023

Meeting Info:
Days: Wednesday
Times: 12:10pm - 2:50pm
Building: Academic Entrance 63 Fifth Ave
Room: 312
Date Range: 1/25/2023 - 5/10/2023