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Making it Work in Fashion Studies

Making it Work in Fashion Studies

This week, we're excited to share with you something that's been in the works for a long, long time...about two years in fact! As a collective of full- and part-time academic laborers, the matter of how we "make it work" in this nascent field is something that's constantly on our minds. Moreover, in speaking with you, our community, we've come to realize that it's something that you think a lot about, too, even if perhaps you don't have many opportunities and outlets to speak with others about your triumphs as well as your tribulations in the academic labor market. 

Thus, we're so proud to finally present to you a long overdue survey we’ve created to find out more about you and the work you do within fashion studies, and in particular how you feel about it and the life it provides you. Many of you may be familiar with the survey released earlier this year that asked for salary data from those working within the fashion industry in order to  share a clearer picture of what it looks like to work in the business today. In a similar spirit, we’d like to pull back the curtain on the conditions under which we’re all laboring, whether in universities and colleges, museums, or independently. We graciously request your (completely anonymous!) transparency to this end.

The survey is designed for all of us in this field, doing work with not only unclearly defined boundaries, but unclearly defined employment prospects. Indeed, as more and more people graduate from fashion-focused MA programs, it can feel like there are fewer and fewer full time jobs to go around, but also more and more opportunities to blaze new trails. It’s therefore not uncommon for highly-skilled and highly-knowledgeable fashion thinkers and practitioners to piece together unconventional, ad hoc careers from gigs, freelance work, and part-time teaching. 

We believe that this terrain deserves further investigation into the nature of the labor being done within it — work that is situated in the recesses of understanding, celebrating, and producing fashion.

When it comes to examining how we “make it work,” the purpose of this survey is to acknowledge the precarity that is rife within the field of fashion studies, but also to discover stories from individuals who are thriving! It’s our hope that the survey will culminate in a report that will support the laborers in our field, illuminating both inequity and resilience. With this collective knowledge, we hope to create an open dialogue and facilitate the possibility of learning from the experiences of others.

We feel that there is room for all of us to make our voices heard in the fashion system.

Indeed, we feel that there is room for all of us to make our voices heard in the fashion system, and we’d like you to see this survey as a chance for fashion studies scholars and practitioners to join the conversation. That being said, we also tried to carefully design the survey so that you have the opportunity to self-identify as a fashion studies scholar or practitioner, regardless of your exact job title, since our work can take so many different forms (for instance, those of you who work 9-5 jobs and then do research, for free, in your spare time). 

Likewise, since many of us are supplementing our academic work with side jobs, the questions about professional/non-academic work on this survey serve mainly to contextualize how fashion studies scholars "make it work” under these conditions. We have also left open the opportunity (through text boxes and chances to expand upon simple yes/no answers) to erode some assumptions we make and to actually learn something new about our field and who works in it.

All that being said, every question on the survey is optional, so please feel free to skip anything that doesn’t apply to your situation or that you don’t feel comfortable sharing. No identifying information will be included, so all of your responses will be completely anonymous.

Thank you so much for volunteering your valuable time and energy. We really look forward to collecting and sharing the responses with our community in the hopes of getting a clearer picture of what it means to be giving our time and passion to this line of work.

Rest assured that your answers will be completely anonymized. The survey does not request any identifying information (that you do not wish to provide), nor do you have to enter your email address to participate.


Click here to take the survey!


And please feel free to reach out to us at if you have any questions or experience any technical issues when taking the survey! Thank you so much for your honesty and transparency!

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