Critical Fashion Studies

The Critical Fashion Studies (CFS) research collective brings together fashion scholars, practitioners, and industry members to advance research on sustainability, ethics and innovation.

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Critical Fashion Studies collective

Based in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne, the collective is an ongoing research forum for critically-engaged approaches to fashion, with an emphasis on sustainability, ethical production and consumption, and innovative design practices. In this time of economic and environmental instability and transformation, the fashion industry, fashion practitioners, and fashion scholars have much to gain from a shared, critical dialogue.

Informed by the interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary focus of Cultural Studies, and drawing on the discipline’s long history of public research, the collective is a forum for building valuable connections across industry, academia and entrepreneurial practitioners, through which the exchange of knowledge and innovative practice can take place.


News and events

Founding members



Professor Natalya Lusty
Professor Natalya Lusty

Professor Natalya Lusty

Natalya is Professor of Cultural Studies and an ARC Future Fellow (2018-2021) in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. Her work examines the relationship between modernist cultural and political formations and contemporary aesthetic, political, and vernacular practices. Her Future Fellowship project investigates how the department store became an important institution for the transnational dissemination of modernist and avant-garde aesthetics alongside its cultivation of new forms of creative and educational experiences that transformed consumer experience. Two research threads on fashion have emerged from this project; the first examines the collaboration between Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli in the context of their extensive work with New York department stores. The second examines the broader history of the department store’s mission of social responsibility and consumer education with the current shift to corporate responsibility through ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability.

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Dr Harriette Richards
Dr Harriette Richards

Dr Harriette Richards

Dr Harriette Richards is a Research Associate in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include fashion in Aotearoa New Zealand, fashion and melancholia and ethical fashion futures. She is currently working on research investigating modern slavery and transparency in the Australian fashion industry and entrepreneurial experience at the digital frontier. Her work has been published in a range of journals including Cultural Studies, Gender, Work and Organization and the Journal of Fashion, Style and Popular Culture.

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Dr Rimi Khan
Dr Rimi Khan

Dr Rimi Khan

Dr Rimi Khan is a Lecturer in the School of Communication and Design at RMIT University Vietnam. Her research is broadly concerned with creativity, diverse citizenship and cultural economy. Her most recent work examines global youth cultures and ethical fashion economies. Her book, Art in Community: The Provisional Citizen (2016, Palgrave), examines the aesthetic, institutional and economic agendas that produce community.

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Network members

Modern Day Slavery

Modern Day Slavery

The Critical Fashion Studies (CFS) research collective, together with a research team from the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Melbourne, are part of a larger ongoing, independent, research-driven and multi-faceted approach to understanding modern slavery issues and solutions.

Consumers are largely unaware of the slavery inherent to their consumption or their role in creating demand, and businesses are uncertain of how to effectively communicate their slavery credentials to consumers. In the midst of this uncertainty and assumed responsibilities, modern slavery continues unabated and the supply of humans for slavery remains hidden.

Bringing collaborative research and insights together, Modern Day Slavery begins to tackle the global challenge of modern slavery and offer guidance for industry and government stakeholders struggling with the development, enforcement and implementation of modern slavery legislation.

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Supported by the School of Culture and Communication

Based in the School of Culture and Communication (SCC), the Collective brings together early and mid-career scholars and senior academics in the School and aims to foster cross-Faculty and industry collaboration. The Critical Fashion Studies research collective is the recipient of a SCC Research Themes Funding Grant for 2019, which has supported a two-day international conference in February 2020, with industry panels and a keynote speaker co-presented with the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). A SCC Engagement grant funded a one-day Fashion Futures Symposium in June 2019, which hosted leading Australian academics working in critical fashion studies, with an edited collection arising from the symposium due in 2020. We have also received a SCC Conference Funding Grant which will help support the 2020 conference.