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Visual Fashion Communication


Lobinger K.

Course director

Tarnutzer S.



Course Description

Fashion communication and visual communication have always been intrinsically connected. For example, fashion brands have always been producers of fascinating and emotional advertising campaigns, and today influencers on social media strongly rely on networked photography for promoting products, brands and lifestyles. But visual fashion communication is not only an important element of aesthetic persuasion and of conveying information on products and brands, it also has – often unintended – social and cultural implications and effects on beauty and body norms that needs to be addressed. The course Visual Fashion Communication tackles these complexities and gives an overview of the power and effects of the visual mode. Students will learn to analyse small and larger sets of visuals for understanding their aesthetic, formal and representational logics. A historical view on the changing trends in visual fashion communication will help detect stereotypes and representational techniques that are discussed regarding their economic as well as social-cultural and ethical implications. At the same time, visual communication is more and more saturated with technologies of artificial intelligence, which necessitates a discussion of current innovations. The critical knowledge of visual fashion communication obtained in this course is essential for producers as well as audiences in current highly visualized environments, such as the fashion domain.

For further information, please consult the full-length syllabus provided on iCorsi.

Learning Methods

Active participation during the sessions is highly recommended. The teaching style is based on a dialogic and interactive setting. Interactive tasks will be included in various forms (e.g. in the form of Quizzes). Students are also encouraged to actively use the e-learning platform iCorsi for sharing their ideas, thoughts and interesting material with the other participants. Questions posted to iCorsi will also be taken up in class.

Group task:

The aim of the group task is to learn how to propose, structure and conduct a research project within the field of Visual Fashion Communication. Within the scope of this project, you will jointly create a paper (written report) as well as a short explanatory (video) presentation on your respective topic. Multiple feedback loops provided by the instructors serve as a continuous support throughout the whole process. Project findings will be presented and discussed in class.

Evaluation procedures and Grading criteria

The evaluation will be based on:

  • The exercises and the group task (30%), and on the final written exam with open-ended questions (70%)

  • Language of the exam: English


Due to the teaching style based on interaction and dialogue, attendance in class is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory. 

Required Materials

Mandatory readings:

  • Bell, P., & Milic, M. (2002). Goffman's Gender Advertisements revisited: combining content analysis with semiotic analysis. Visual Communication, 2(1), 203-222.

  • Gaimster, J. (2011). Visual research methods in fashion. Oxford: Berg Publishers. (selected chapters)

  • Lobinger, K. (2017). Visual research methods. In J. Matthes, C. S. Davis, & R. F. Potter (eds.), The international encyclopedia of communication research methods. New York: John Wiley & Sons. doi: 10.1002/9781118901731.iecrm0265.

Further readings will be provided on iCorsi two weeks before the respective session.