World’s First Doctor in Fashion Science

World’s First Doctor in Fashion Science

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Philip Warkander. Photo: Sofia Esfandi

Philip Warkander is the first person in the world to hold a doctor’s degree in fashion science. He now works as a university lector at the Division of Fashion Science at Campus Helsingborg.

Text by: Sofia Esfandi                Translation: Carl-William Ersgård

How do you research fashion?
“At Lund University, fashion science is part of the humanities, and research works just as in the other art fields. Fashion science is sort of like a lens through which we can study our society. My field of study is fashion in relation to contemporary phenomena.

Why is fashion science important?
“The key question is ‘why are there human sciences?’ We study our surrounding in order to better understand culture, and humanities are the soul of society. As for fashion, it is a science that both reflects and drives the development of society. Fashion is more widespread than any other cultural expression, since all people wear clothes and thus must relate to the fashion industry.

Philip Warkander holds that fashion is important to study and analyse from a critical perspective. According to him, fashion is a complex subject with positive as well as negative aspects.

“In society, fashion is a way of expressing one’s identity and which group one belongs to. At the same time, the fashion industry also provides for people across the globe. But the other side of the fashion coin is consumption. A consumption that deepens the gap between rich and poor. In addition, we must not forget that the fashion industry, second only to the oiling industry, is the world’s most dangerous industry to the environment. Increased consumption leads to more problems for the climate.”

Is there a typical ‘student style’?
“Historically speaking, students of the humanities are, for example, associated with the duffel coat. Nowadays, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific student style, since students as a group have become more diverse. On the other hand, there are probably certain dress codes more common among some programmes than others, where for example class belonging is sometimes manifested in what you wear.

In 2013, Philip Warkander was the first person in the world to hold a doctor’s degree in fashion science. When I ask him why it was not until the 21st century that fashion became something to study at the university, he points at a classic academic norm.

Philip Warkander holds that subjects traditionally dominated by women are seen as less valuable in relation to those dominated by men. According to him, this is the reason why it was not until 2006 that fashion became science.

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In Sweden, fashion science has been a part of the humanities since 2006. Philip Warkander took his doctorate in 2013 with the thesis “This is all fake, this is all plastic, this is me – An ethnographic study of the interrelations between style, sexuality and gender in contemporary Stockholm.”

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