Dr. Heike Jenss's research and teaching explores fashion as material culture and cultural practice, with an emphasis on identity and individualization, consumption, youth culture, vintage dress, and the relation of fashion and time. She received her MA and Ph.D. degree with summa cum laude from Dortmund University, where she studied Cultural Anthropology of Textiles at the Institute of Arts and Material Culture.
Before joining the faculty of Parsons The New School for Design, Dr. Jenss taught at Dortmund University and collaborated as a research fellow in the interdisciplinary project Uniformity in Motion: The Process of Uniformity in Body and Dress, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. She conducted an ethnographic study on the consumption of secondhand clothing and the embodiment of retro styles among youth in the contemporary sixties scene, which culminated in her first monograph, Sixties Dress Only: Mode und Konsum in der Retro-Szene der Mods (Campus 2007). Dr. Jenss has presented at international conferences and contributed articles to numerous publications, including Design Studies: A Reader and the journal Fashion Theory.
At Parsons, Dr. Jenss developed new undergraduate courses in fashion studies as well as the new MA in Fashion Studies program. Launched in fall 2010, this groundbreaking program offers students the opportunity to analyze the multiple dimensions of fashion, as object, image and practice through interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives. The program explores fashion as a key to the formation of identity, as a culture industry at the center of globalization, and as the subject of a growing scholarly discourse.