In conjunction with Items: Is Fashion Modern? and the related free online course Fashion as Design, for which I was an instructor (mo.ma/fashionasdesign) I spoke with designer Howard Davis about the New Breed, the Afrocentric boutique he cofounded that operated in the 1960s.

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From humble origins as an undergarment, to mass-produced fast-fashion staple, to highly collectible (and highly priced) commodity, the white T-shirt is a quintessential product of twentieth-century modernity and the ultimate sartorial and psychological blank canvas. Read my essay for Google Arts and Culture.

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March 2017, Brooklyn Rail: “Fashion is absolutely embedded in this conversation, and in multiple ways—as a marker of time and memory, a maker of status, or vehicle for fantastical escapism, certainly, it helps us mediate, describe, and explain modern life. We think of the decrepit clothes of the stonebreakers painted by Gustave Courbet that—ripped, patched,…

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Our discussion ranged from the historical (we’d never heard of early-20th-century “stoutwear” before Lauren schooled us) to the political (what does it mean to call out a certain fashion conversation as “plus size” in a country where the majority of women’s bodies might be described in this way?). We also learned that the concept of plus…

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