Dress/Fashion History of Korea as a Field of Study

by Minjee Kim

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February 26, 2021

Over the past three decades, the field of dress and fashion history has expanded its horizons, embracing diverse historical accounts in non-Western dress/fashion. This effort has been paralleled by an attempt to decentralize the conventional Eurocentrism in fashion studies that viewed “fashion” as equating with Western modernity and “dress culture in other places” with lack thereof. Diversity and inclusivity in the fashion discourse, in part, have been shared by and visualized through the rise of fashion museology, which has included the debut of several Korean fashion exhibitions in Western museums. However, scholarship on the dress/fashion history of Korea that might serve to fill in the “diversity” in global fashion history has yet to appear. In this talk, Dr. Minjee Kim introduces the study of dress/fashion as a powerful tool for understanding the past and present society of Korea, through select artifacts. She reviews the field’s research history and current state of scholarship within South Korea and beyond, and addresses the need to foster scholarship in global settings. As the discipline’s methodology inherently relies on inter/cross-disciplinary and global perspectives, she calls for participation of scholars and students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

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