Online course: Fashion as Design (part of the Long term online programme: Modern and Contemporary Art and Design)

Dates: any time

Duration: 20 hours

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 out of 2302 ratings (see top rating courses here)

Participating countries: any country

Apply here: Application form

Organizer: The Museum of Modern Art at Coursera


  • FREE
  • $49 with sharable certificate

Fashion as Design

Among all objects of design, our clothes are the most universal and intimate. Like other kinds of design, fashion thrives on productive tensions between form and function, automation and craftsmanship, standardization and customization, universality and self-expression, and pragmatism and utopian vision. It exists in the service of others, and it can have profound consequences—social, political, cultural, economic, and environmental.

Fashion as Design focuses on a selection of more than 70 garments and accessories from around the world, ranging from kente cloth to jeans to 3D-printed dresses. Through these garments, we’re going to look closely at what we wear, why we wear it, how it’s made, and what it means. You’ll hear directly from a range of designers, makers, historians, and others working with clothing every day—and, in some cases, reinventing it for the future. Studio visits, interviews, and other resources introduce the history and development of each garment and their changing uses, meanings, and impact over time. Course Learning Objectives: Develop critical tools to appreciate and contextualize fashion design—from everyday clothing to couture garments—through many different perspectives. Trace the history, development, and impact of garments over time, and explore how they may be reinvented. Investigate garments through multiple lenses including politics, identity, and economics. Understand more about the lifecycle of clothing, from its design and production to its marketing, distribution, and consumption. Better comprehend the choices you make about fashion with respect to the visual language of dress, individual and collective identities, and issues such as labor practices, sustainability, and body politics.



WEEK 1: 1 hour to complete


Why do we wear what we wear?
Welcome to Fashion as Design
Who’s Afraid of Fashion? by Paola Antonelli
Additional Readings & Resources
Tell Us About You

WEEK 2: 3 hours to complete


Wearing certain garments can inspire heroic transformations, while heroes can elevate everyday clothing to iconic status. In this module, you will discover the relationship between aspiration, achievement, adulation, and attire through a wide range of heroes—and even imagine yourself as a space hero in the future.

How do clothes make heroes?
On Site in Los Angeles: Recreating Bruce Lee’s Tracksuit
Curator Stephanie Kramer on Sports Jerseys
Guy Baldwin, International Mr. Leather 1989, on Leather Pants
Designer Richard Malone on the Jumpsuit
Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond on the Hoodie
Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, Abecedarium Presentation on the Hoodie
On Site in London: Designing a MarsBoot with Liz Ciokajlo
A Close Look at the Items: Sports Heroes
A Close Look at the Item: Subcultural Heroe
A Close Look at the Items: Military and Political Heroes
A Close Look at the Items: Celebrity and Pop Heroes
Bandana Tewari, Vogue India, on the Sari
Malika V. Kashyap, Border&Fall, on the Sari
A Close Look at the MarsBoot Prototype

WEEK 3: 3 hours to complete


When we put on clothes, we change the shape and outline of our bodies—sometimes profoundly. The silhouettes we adopt are determined by everything from shifting trends in fashion to what looks and feels good. This week, we explore how clothes shape the body and how cultural constructions of the body shape clothes.

How do clothes shape the body?
On Site at MoMA: Designing Mannequins with Tae Smith
Curator Valerie Steele, Abecedarium Presentation on the Little Black Dress
Fashion Historian Francesca Granata on Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body—and Become One
Linda Loppa on the Tabi Boot
Designer Janie Bryant on the Pencil Skirt
Mickey Boardman, PAPER magazine, Abecedarium Presentation on the Muumuu and Caftan

A Close Look at the Items: Shape
A Close Look at the Items: Conform
A Close Look at the Items: Augment
Designer Norma Kamali on the Sleeping Bag Coat
A Close Look at the Items: Free
Fashion Historian Lauren Downing Peters and Co-founder of Universal Standard Alexandra Waldman on Non-Sample Size Clothing

WEEK 4: 3 hours to complete


The French word couture means “dressmaking” or “sewing,” and often refers to one-of-a-kind, primarily handmade garments intended for a specific individual. This module approaches couture from a broader perspective, exploring the complex processes—from traditional handcrafting to the use of new technologies—that go into the making of high-end and everyday garments.

What goes into making what we wear?
On Site in London: Making a Bespoke Savile Row Suit with Anderson & Sheppard
Designer Carlo Brandelli on the Suit
Designers Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg on the Kinematics Dress
On Site in New Jersey: Designing 3D-Printed Dresses with threeASFOUR
A Close Look at the Items: Crafting
A Close Look at the Items: Producing
Jason Schott, Schott NYC, on the Biker Jacket
A Close Look at the Items: Growing
A Close Look at Design Collective threeASFOUR

WEEK 5: 3 hours to complete


This module examines the lifecycle of garments, an often overlooked aspect of fashion that many individuals and companies are addressing with growing urgency. How do garments begin, how do they end, and how does the cycle of production, consumption, and disposal impact the world?

What is the lifecycle of our clothes?
On Site in San Francisco: Levi’s Wellthread Design Team Meeting
On Site in San Francisco: Historical Jeans in the Levi’s Archive with Tracey Panek
On Site in San Francisco: The Future of Denim Case Study with Paul Dillinger
Curator Emma McClendon, Abecedarium Presentation on Jeans
Designers Carmen Artigas and Mary Ping, Abecedarium Presentation on Rana Plaza
Curator Michelle Millar Fisher and Historian Francesca Granata on Premaman
Maxine Bédat, Zady, Abecedarium Presentation on E-Commerce
Conversation with Designer Pia Interlandi on the Little Black Death Dress
A Close Look at the Items: Jeans and White T-Shirt
A Close Look at the Items: Anew
Cheng Kang, Woolrich, on the Plaid Flannel Shirt
Designer Wei Hung Chen on the Modular Dress for Pregnant Women Prototype
A Close Look at the Items: Forever
A Close Look at the Little Black Death Dress Prototype
Additional Readings & Resources

WEEK 6: 3 hours to complete


Modesty has many varied expressions that can be informed by social, religious, or political identifications, as well as by personal choice. But whether covered up or exposed, our bodies are often battlegrounds for continually shifting societal claims around morality, agency, and etiquette.

How do we use clothes to cover and reveal?
Designer Hana Tajima on the Turtleneck and Hijab
Grace Ali, OF NOTE Magazine, Abecedarium Presentation on the Veil
Historian Leila Ahmed on the Hijab
A Close Look at the Items: Head and Neck
Rabbis Jodie Siff, Charles Savenor, and Melissa Buyer-Witman on the Kippah
A Close Look at the Items: Swimwear
Curator Glynis Jones on Speedo
A Close Look at the Items: Legs
Designer Miguel Mesa Posada on the Harem Pants Prototype
Designer Zhijun Wang on the Sneaker Mask
Additional Readings & Resources

WEEK 7: 5 hours to complete


What we wear and how we wear it can communicate messages, create group identification, borrow and remake existing styles, or subvert a garment’s traditional associations. While choosing and wearing clothes is an act of personal expression, it is also a response to many of the topics addressed in the preceding weeks of this course. In this final week, we look at the ways in which clothing allows us to feel connected to others and to stand out.

What do we say with what we wear?
Conversation with Artist Amanda Lopez and Designer Tanya Melendez on Door-Knocker Hoops
Photographer Tom Gould on the Lo-Life Crew
Curator Stephanie Kramer on the Slip Dress
Model Hari Nef, Abecedarium Presentation on Unisex Fashion
Photographer David Godlis, Abecedarium Presentation on Dr. Martens
Historian Christopher Richards on Kente Cloth
On Site in New York: Designing a 21st-Century Biker Jacket with Asher Levine
A Close Look at the Items: Appropriate
A Close Look at the Items: Subvert
Jessica Barber, CALVIN KLEIN, on the Slip Dress
A Close Look at the Items: Message
Designer Peter Saville on the Graphic T-Shirt
A Close Look at the Items: Identify
Valarie Benning on New Breed’s Dashiki Fashions
A Close Look at the Biker Jacket Prototype
Additional Readings & Resources
Funding & Credits

Long term online programme: Modern and Contemporary Art and Design

This course is part of the Long term online programme: Modern and Contemporary Art and Design.

Name of the course Category Educator Price Duration (hours) Score Number of ratings
Fashion as Design
Fashion, Design, History
FREE 20 4.8 2302
Modern Art & Ideas
Fashion, Design, History, Art
FREE 14 4.8 5016
Seeing Through Photographs
Fashion, Design, History, Photography
FREE 17 4.8 3670
What Is Contemporary Art?
Fashion, Design, History, Art
FREE 12 4.7 1376