“You can't have fashion without victims," so goes the introduction to the series Project Catwalk. This statement expresses how many see fashion; an industry full of diva supermodels, combative and melodramatic fashion designers, glamorous clothing, competition, foreign travel and massive profit. Beyond the celebrity images and drama of such reality fashion shows as Project Runway Canada, America's Next Top Model, Superstar Hair Challenge and Fashion Television, there is a much more interesting world that involves sweatshops, fantasies, ideology, power, beauty, knowledge, status, media, labour, the global economy, and the serious business of imagining the trivial.
So who are the victims of fashion? Well, there are many victims; impoverished, brutalized and oppressed sweatshop workers in the developing world who produce the clothing we wear who earn far below a living wage, young women and men under pressure to maintain ideal beautiful bodies and fashionable clothing, youth encouraged to over-consume to be cool, older people ignored by the fashion industry and ethnic minorities that are racialized and stereotyped by the fashion industry. Through examining the victims of fashion, students will leave the class with an understanding not of fashion trends, but versed in the sociology of fashion.