Two new resources

Two new resources caught my eye this week while conducting research on hanbok 한복 / 조선옷 or traditional Korean clothing: the Asian Fashion Archive and The Fashion and Race Database, both of which launched recently in 2020.

The Asian Fashion Archive is a digital project that highlights Asian fashion, culture, and history, and was developed by fashion educator and historian Faith Cooper in 2020 in response to anti-Asian racism she witnessed and experienced that year. According to the website, Cooper was “frustrated with the lack of Asian representation and negative portrayals of Asian people in Western media and fashion [and created the resource] to inspire, empower, and educate others.”

The website allows users to searching regionally and is divided into four main sections: Asian Americans, East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia, which are then subdivided nationally. There are a variety of resources including video clips, museums and exhibitions, podcasts, and publications, divided geographically. These curated collections include a mix of academic, museum and popular fashion media sources. There is a separate section of educational resources that include activity and teaching guides, as well as kid-friendly audiovisual resources.

The Fashion and Race Database was founded by fashion educator Kim Jenkins with the goal to “amplify the voices of those who have been racialized (and thus marginalized) in fashion, illuminate under-examined histories and address racism throughout the fashion system,” according to the website. While teaching at Parsons, Jenkins noticed that there was no single resource that explored the intersection of fashion and race–so she developed her own, gathering from a variety of sources.

The database is divided into five sections: Objects that matter, Profiles, The Library, Essays and News, and Community.

Screenshot / The Fashion and Race Database

Objects that matter focus on fashion objects, for example hanbok. Each entry features a selection of visual representations, a description, object details such as construction materials and usage, modern appropriation and influence, a bibliography and links for more information. Each entry is contributed by a scholar specialising in the subject matter.

Profiles (still a work in progress) are entries on leaders and changemakers, fashion designers, style icons and tastemakers, and historical persons.

The library contains topical and geographical reading lists, a bookshelf with WorldCat and publisher links, films and documentaries, recordings of lectures and panels, links to online exhibitions and archives, scholarly and popular articles, and podcasts. An issue I have with the library is that it heavily relies on browsing, as there are no delimiters or subcategories to choose from. However there is a search box for known item and site-wide general searching.

While the website heading says Essays and News, clicking on it will bring you to Essays and Opinion, a selection of blogs by site contributors.

Community is a mix of directories of persons, a calendar of events and opportunities such as job postings and calls for papers.

These two new resources, created by fashion educators for critical fashion studies, and to amplify diverse views and styles will certainly be beneficial for librarians, educators and students of fashion, textiles and costume studies. I think the mix of resources, from academic papers to Vogue articles to videos and podcasts–everyone will certainly find a mode à la mode to meet their informational needs.

Header image: Lee Kyung Sun (2016) Traditional Women’s Clothing of the 18th Century Joseon Dynasty. From the collection of Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation.

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