Fashion & Ethics
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
School: School of Art and Design History and Theory
Department: Art and Design History
Course Number: PLFS 3144
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Fashion Design History, Theory & Criticism
  • Sustainability
  • Social Justice
Fashion has been blamed for many unethical practices from promotion of unhealthy beauty ideals to counterfeiting to the use of sweatshops. This course will examine the specific dilemmas of fashion ethics, especially in relation to luxury, beauty standards, and sustainable practices. The course will rely on a broad range of readings, both theoretical and practical. From the philosophical perspective we will look at questions of imitation, deceit, and performance in relation to fashion. We will read Thorstein Veblen’s seminal text, Theory of the Leisure Class as well as other articles dealing with the philosophy of money. Additionally, the class will engage texts on materialism and consumerism, concluding with an in-depth examination of the ethical consequences of the sustainability movement. The concluding weeks will focus on particular issues addressed by sustainability – namely, human well-being and environmental concerns – and the practical ethical response to such a call to arms.
Course Open to: Majors Only
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: All university undergraduate degree students. Pre-requisites: first-year university writing course and at least one prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture.