Special Fashion Research Network Reading Group with
Lauren Downing Peters (PhD Candidate, Stockholm University) on:
"Stoutwear: The Fashioning of a Body and of an Industry, 1915-1931''
Date: Thursday 15th December 2016
Venue: The Fashion Studio (Room 4.08/4.09), Coventry University London Campus, 109-117 Middlesex Street, London, E1 7JF
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street Station (Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines, and Mainline Rail)
To reserve your place at this event and to receive the readings in advance book via our Eventbrite page here
Lauren Downing Peters’ research emerges from Entwistle’s suggestion that “the body and dress operate dialectically: dress works on the body, imbuing it with social meaning, while the body is a dynamic field that gives life and fullness to dress” (2000: 327). Plus-size fashion is a key example of this process—a contemporary cultural battlefield of sorts that casts light on how the fashion industry has given meaning to (and has marginalized) the fat, female body, thereby lending weight to the aphorism, “you are what you wear.”
For her doctoral dissertation, however, Lauren moves beyond the contemporary debates surrounding plus-size fashion by exploring the origins of the industry and the historical discursive construction of the fat, female body within early twentieth century American fashion media. Long overlooked by fashion scholars, the discourses of and produced by the “stoutwear industry,” as it was known, made the fat, female body culturally meaningful. In a rapidly modernising society with growing productive capacities—particularly in the ready-made garment industry—however, the appropriately modern body was the slender body, while the “stout” body was rendered deviant. Stoutwear, however, emerged as a compensatory technology that, to borrow the words of Mary Douglas, brought order to the disorderly, fat, female body. Lauren's dissertation therefore takes an inter-disciplinary and multi-methodological approach by tracing how the stout body was discursively constructed within professional fashion media, through the design and materiality of stoutwear, and finally within women’s and fashion media and style guides, which proffered advice about how to “slenderise” the appearance of fat flesh.
About our supporter Coventry University London Campus (CULC):
Part of Coventry University, Modern University of the Year 2014, 2015 and 2016, University of the Year 2015 (Times Higher Education Awards) and ranked 15th in The Guardian University League Tables, Coventry University London Campus, is a rapidly growing and dynamic institution located in the heart of London’s Business District, a short walk from Liverpool Street Station, and the bustle of London’s Creative Industries and the Silicone Roundabout in Shoreditch.
The taught Fashion-focused Post-Graduate Programmes at CULC, including the MBA International Fashion Management and MSc International Fashion Marketing, have recently been joined by the newly launched BA (Hons) International Fashion Management and Marketing launched in autumn 2016. Attracting a cohort of aspiring fashion professionals from Belgium, China, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, UK and USA, the highly-experienced, industry-facing Fashion Team at CULC seek to develop and challenge the skills of the next generation of global fashion managers, entrepreneurs, and digital communications specialists.