The Courage of Fashion

Foucault and the relational materialist notion of fashion

In the last three decades, there has been a significant shift in the reception of Michel Foucault’s works within the field of fashion studies. This shift has helped us gain a better understanding of fashion as a crucial dispositif of governmentality and as a realm of the techniques of the self. However, these two conceptualizations of fashion fall short in explaining the contemporary industry’s crisis, marked by environmental destructiveness, and fail to accommodate novel critical approaches to clothing culture. 
A pivotal development in the reception of Foucault’s ideas in the past decade is Thomas Lemke’s perspective. Lemke’s approach draws upon the French philosopher’s new materialist critiques to demonstrate that relational materialism has always been an inherent aspect of Foucault’s work. This paper aims to bridge the gap between the field of fashion studies and relational materialism, exploring what insights into fashion and dress can be gleaned from Foucault’s relational materialist interpretation.
In this revised framework, the central category shifts from governmentality to parrhesia (truth-telling). The conclusion of this study delves into a fashion concept rooted in parrhesia, offering fresh insights into the intersection of fashion and truth-telling.

Released: Replika 129, 87–103.