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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday October 17, 2019

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Georgia Evans

Georgia Evans

Senior Editorial Officer , Europeana Foundation

Fashion and the Politics of Heritage - EFHA International Conference 2019

The 8-9 November 2019 will see the sixth European Fashion Heritage Association (EFHA) International Conference take place in London. This year’s theme is Fashion and the Politics of Heritage, and this guest post from the EFHA team takes a look at some of the topics under discussion. 

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The European Fashion Heritage Association (established in 2014) brings together fashion institutions to encourage the valorisation and reuse of fashion heritage online. It is also an accredited aggregator for Europeana, serving 40 contributing institutions, and last year publishing 870,000 records in Europeana Collections. 

The organisation’s annual conference takes place next month, and - moving on from some of the core issues that emerged in the EFHA International conference 2018 - will explore the complexities linked to the definition of fashion heritage. The aim of the conference is to contribute to this ongoing conversation and offer new insights into academic discourse on the role of archives and fashion displays in museums, galleries and the digital realm. 

'Fashion and the Politics of Heritage' will be opened by Marco Rendina, EFHA Managing Director and chair of the Europeana Aggregators’ Forum, before moving on to a series of panels exploring the encounters between fashion, culture and history. The conference will contextualise the role of politics in these encounters, and investigate the diverse fashion narratives which deal with heritage. It will also focus on the processes of framing these narratives, and directly explore the practices of archiving and preserving fashion. The conference will gather professionals from some of the most established museums and fashion archives to reflect on their day-to-day practices, and finally will analyse queer heritage between academia and the museum.

The first panel of the conference, on ‘Questioning Heritage and Fashion’, is dedicated to cultural heritage in its material and digital forms, and includes a talk from Dr. Marie Riegels Melchior (University of Copenhagen) which discusses Europeana Fashion and the Google Cultural Institute’s ‘We Wear Culture’. It will explore why two of the largest international cultural heritage digitisation platforms have chosen fashion as themes, and the importance they afford to the digital preservation and communication of fashion. 

The line-up of speakers also includes academics Julia Petrov, Rhonda Garelick and Fabio Cleto, museums such as Centraal Museum Utrecht and the Museum of London, and brand archives from Missoni, Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood and Ermenegildo Zegna. Their presentations will tackle a variety of issues, including: cultural heritage in its material and digital forms, with reference to Europeana’s role in its dissemination; the management and role of archives for either museums or brands; the relationship between material culture and digital technologies; and the meaning of ‘politics’ in the context of the archive.