Fashion Dissertation Topics

Example fashion dissertation topic 1:

The renaissance of tweed: A contemporary review of Harris Tweed

With sales surging, Harris Tweed has come back into fashion whereas, but a mere decade ago, the future of the company looked bleak. This dissertation charts the resurgence of tweed as an iconic material that celebrates the best of British design in the 21st century. Combining theory with practice, this dissertation uses not only interviews with designers, purchasers and consumers, but also looks at the way Harris Tweed is manufactured, and marketed globally. The ability to undertake primary interviews with the independent loom workers of the island would also be advantageous in the completion of this piece of work as would an interest in business modelling.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Breward, C., Conekin, B. and Cox, C. (eds) (2002). The Englishness of English dress. Oxford: Berg.
  • McDougall, K. (2011). ‘A case study for innovation in contemporary tweed’. IFFTI conference: Fashion and luxury: Between heritage and innovation, 11th – 14th April 2011, Paris.
  • Moisley, H.A. (1961). ‘Harris Tweed: A growing Highland industry’. Economic Geography, vol. 37(4), pp. 353-370.

Example fashion dissertation topic 2:

From shell suit to onesie: The enduring appeal of urban estate wear.

Combining fashion with aspects of sociology, this dissertation focuses on the people of Slough. In so doing it seeks to evaluate the reasons behind the enduring appeal of urban estate wear amongst sectors of the town’s inhabitants. Using both a thorough review of existing literature upon the subject as well as interviews with wearers (and those who abhor such clothing), this dissertation seeks to map the correlation (if any) between personal socio-economic factors and the wearing of these items. As a dissertation that crosses academic disciplines, this would be particularly suited to post-graduate level study.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bennett, J. (2013). ‘Chav-spotting in Britain: The representation of social class as private choice’. Social Semiotics, vol. 23(1), pp. 146-162.
  • Craik, J. (1994). The face of fashion: Cultural studies in fashion. London: Routledge.
  • Roach, M.E. and Eicher, J.B. (1979). ‘The language of personal adornment’. In, Cordwell, J.M., (ed.) The fabrics of culture: The anthropology of clothing and adornment. The Hague: Mouton, pp. 7-22.

Example fashion dissertation topic 3:

Discerning dog-wear: From plastic mac to boutique Barbour.

Focusing on the small dog market (toy poodles, dachshunds, Bichon Frise and the like), this dissertation investigates changing fashions within the world of pet accessories. Whereas once the lead was enough, the dissertation notes that wet weather dog wear has, over the past few years, been revolutionised: with Barbour now, for instance, offering tailored jackets for pampered pooches. Reviewing existing market trends and interviewing owners as to their preferences, (including the rise of the poodle carrier and the doggy backpack), this is a dissertation that addresses a niche but lucrative fashion market within a sector of the industry that is often academically overlooked.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Boetti, A. (2008). Fashion dogs: An explorative research of fashion apparel and accessories for dogs. Master’s thesis, Universit� della Svizzera Italiana.
  • Hirschman, E.C. (1994). ‘Consumers and their animal companions’. Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 20(4), pp. 616-632.
  • McEachern, M.G. and Cheetham, F. (2008). Consumer resistance in the pet marketplace. 1st International Conference on ‘Consumption and Consumer Resistance’, 28th November 2008, Paris.

Example fashion dissertation topic 4:

The decline of the tie: A social investigation.

From cravat, to bow-tie, through kipper, and to the skinny leather of the mods, neckwear has been evident in men’s clothing since Roman times. However, with the advent first of ‘dress down Fridays’ and, more recently, the embracing of non-tie wearing as a way of being ‘at one with the people’ by the political elite, the tie as an essential component of the wardrobe of the white collar working male seems threatened. This dissertation charts the rise and fall of the tie as a social phenomenon within fashion trends, charting its earliest usage to its variegated forms in the 1960s to its present day status.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Coelho, P.R. and McClure, J.E. (1993). ‘Toward an economic theory of fashion’. Economic Inquiry, vol. 31(4), pp. 595-608.
  • Crane, D. (2001). Fashion and its social agendas: Class, gender, and identity in clothing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Pendergast, S., Pendergast, T. and Hermsen, S. (2004). Fashion, costume, and culture: clothing, headwear, body decorations, and footwear through the ages, vol. 3. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Example fashion dissertation topic 5:

An investigation into the wearing of academic dress amongst Britain’s public school teachers: A traditional dress code in danger?

That the third edition of Shaw’s Academical Dress of Great Britain and Ireland had to be privately printed, rather than, as had hitherto been the case, printed by Phillimore, underlines the extent to which the wearing of academic dress within the teaching community has become side-lined in recent years. Though academic powerhouses such as Eton still require masters to wear white tie, it would appear that, to many in the staffrooms of Britain’s public and independent schools, the wearing of gowns is no longer deemed fashionable or necessary. Instead its wear is relegated to prize evenings and parents’ evenings (for which it may be hired). Interviewing a selection of staff, pupils and parents, from within four leading public schools in the West Midlands, this dissertation seeks to evaluate present-day perceptions of academic gowns in the classroom.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Groves, N. (ed.) (2011). Shaw’s academical dress of Great Britain and Ireland (3rd edn). London: The Burgon Society.
  • Hargreaves-Mawdsley, W.N. (1963). A history of academical dress in Europe until the end of the eighteenth century. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Shaw, G.W. (1995). Academical dress of British and Irish universities (2nd edn). Chichester: Phillimore.

Example fashion dissertation topic 6:

A critique as to the on-going appeal of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales as a fashion icon.

The effect of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales on the fashion industry in the UK continues to resound today. Not only was Diana a bellwether of her time, facilitating the careers of up-and-coming designers, but her sense of style remained accessible to the greater public – thus, Diana’s clothing ranged from the wedding dress that epitomised the 1980s, by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, to casual jeans and sweaters. This dissertation charts Diana’s championing of designers such as Catherine Walker, Versace, David Sassoon, Jacques Azagury, Christina Stambolian, and Bruce Oldfield throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and evaluates to what degree her influence continues to affect the fashion market and expectations of royal dress.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Clancy Steer, D. (2009). The 1980s and 1990s. Hove: Bailey.
  • Craik, J. (1994). The face of fashion: Cultural studies in fashion. London: Routledge.
  • McDowell, C. (2007). Diana style. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Example fashion dissertation topic 7:

Fetish wear and the middle classes: A rejoinder.

Inspired by the literary success of Fifty Shades of Grey and conscious rise of more ‘risqu�’ lingerie within Marks and Spencers (that staple of the middle classes), as well as the more mainstream acceptance of sexual practices previously kept well-behind private doors, this dissertation seeks to explain the rise of fetish wear amongst the middle classes. Using not only the company reports of M&S but also Agent Provocateur and Ann Summers, this is a dissertation that explores a hitherto under-researched aspect of high-street clothing. Though an interest in sociology would be advantageous for this study, it is primarily a fashion and fashion retailing dissertation that could also involve primary fieldwork. Indeed, it is a study that could also benefit from being conceptualised within the changing nature of relationships between mothers and daughters where ‘best-friendship’ has increasingly taken the place of traditional generational hierarchies.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Almond, K. (2011). ‘Suffering in fashion: The links that expose issues for the future production of garments and their appropriation as fashionable items’. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, vol. 4(3), pp. 153-160.
  • O’Donnell, K.A. (1999). ‘Good girls gone bad: The consumption of fetish fashion and the sexual empowerment of women’. Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 26, pp.184-189.
  • Steele, V. (1996). Fetish: Fashion, sex and power. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Example fashion dissertation topic 8:

From cat walk to soft furnishings: The crossover of fashion trends.

Evaluating trends in the summer and winter collections from 2005 – 2012, this dissertation comments on the crossovers that may be discerned between cat walk trends and soft furnishings within the High Street. Commenting not only on design and fabric, but also the aspirations of customers, this is a dissertation that could also make a significant contribution to a number of wider studies of fashion retailing and marketing. Enabling a specific focus to be drawn upon either the industry as a whole, or just a small part of it, the use of primary interviews with designers of collections and customers, should, within the confines of this study, be augmented by a thorough review of existing literature. This study also leads itself to international comparative work.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Pryczynska, E. and Anderwald, A. (2003). ‘The design connotations of clothing and interior fabrics in the aesthetic and application aspects, based on an analysis of recent fashion guidelines’. Fibres & Textiles in Eastern Europe, vol. 11(4-43), pp. 15-19.
  • Sproles, G.B. (1981). ‘Analyzing fashion life cycles: Principles and perspectives’. The Journal of Marketing, vol. 45(4), pp. 116-124.
  • Stansfield, J. and Whitfield, T.W. (2005). ‘Can future colour trends be predicted on the basis of past colour trends?: An empirical investigation’. Color Research & Application, vol. 30(3), pp. 235-242.

Example fashion dissertation topic 9:

Perceptions of a technological fashion icon: The Apple i-Pad.

Acknowledging that fashion plays a pivotal role in all aspects of contemporary living, this dissertation seeks to evaluate customer perceptions of Apple’s i-Pad. In so doing, this dissertation will interview 50 people who presently use the i-Pad and 50 who use an alternative tablet. In conducting face-to-face interviews the study will ask them as to the aesthetic design qualities of each that they like and dislike. Thereafter analysing the data using SPSS, this is a dissertation that combines an understanding of the wider remits of fashion along with primary data collection and statistical analysis: a dissertation that has the potential to help future fashion industry leaders to understand aspects of underlying trending within the public.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Arruda-Filho, E.J., Cabusas, J.A. and Dholakia, N. (2010). ‘Social behavior and brand devotion among iPhone innovators’. International Journal of Information Management, vol. 30(6), pp. 475-480.
  • Jenkins, E. (2008). ‘My iPod, my iCon: How and why do images become icons?’. Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 25(5), pp. 466-489.
  • Pearson, I. (2005). ‘The future of fashion’. Journal of the Communications Network, vol. 4(2), pp. 68-72.

Example fashion dissertation topic 10:

From Brideshead Revisited to Jack Wills: Changing student fashions. A comparative study of the Universities of Oxford and Oxford Brookes.

F�ted for its traditional image of striped blazers, boaters, spats, and young men punting in summer months, the reality of Oxbridge is now far removed from the stereotypical image conjured up by re-runs of Brideshead Revisited or media preoccupation with the dress codes of certain dining societies. In seeking to separate fashion facts from fashion fiction, this dissertation evaluates the extent to which there has been an homogenisation of student sartorial fashions in the ‘city of spires’. It thus not only undertakes primary interviews but also reviews, for instance, the reasoning behind the decision of some JCRs of the traditional Oxford colleges to have forbidden the wearing of tweed within their hallowed precincts.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Auty, S. and Elliott, R. (1998). ‘Social identity and the meaning of fashion brands’. European Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 3, pp. 1-10.
  • Sambroook, A. (2013). ‘Injecting a little fashion happiness into your life’. The Oxford Student Online. Available at: .
  • Xu, Y. and Paulins, V.A. (2005). ‘College students’ attitudes toward shopping online for apparel products: Exploring a rural versus urban campus’. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, vol. 9(4), pp. 420-433.

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