I prefer to think of fashion as a verb. For me, fashioning is an act of manipulation, and the art of “making do.” To study fashion is to study the intersection of materiality and subjectivity. It is the making of the self in relationship to others, and to “stuff.” The primary material for refashioning is the body and its various accoutrements, prosthetics, clothing, and devices. Flesh, ink, fibers, skin, plastics, and metal all intermix in the study of fashion, while still carrying with them their own individual histories branded into or bleeding from their every pore.
Fashion is first something one does–an action rather than a state of being or a static noun. Second, fashion concerns itself with both materiality and discursive representation. It is both the materials used and the meaning given to those materials. Third, fashion can be limited to the material and discourses at hand, while simultaneously offering the possibility for reinvention and imagination of something new. Finally, fashion is best studied in context, both historically and materially. It connects past and present. It is concerned with fields, factories, laboratories, shopping malls, runways, closets, sidewalks, and rag bins.