José Teunissen appointed professor of Fashion Design & Identity

9 May 2023 13:03 | Centre for Applied Research FDMCI

José Teunissen was appointed professor of Fashion Design and Identity at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) on 1 May 2023. She researches fashion from a humanities perspective, and therefore studies fashion as a cultural phenomenon. In her new role, Teunissen will focus on researching how fashion can become more inclusive, in addition to studying innovation for sustainable fashion.

Teunissen has built up an impressive reputation as a researcher in the worlds of fashion and higher education, which led to her appointment as director of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) in March 2023. As part of her new role as Professor of Fashion Design and Identity, she will join the AUAS Fashion Research and Technology research group of Professor Troy Nachtigall.


Teunissen will in her research firstly focus on the subject of inclusivity in fashion. This is a subject that, together with diversity and decolonisation of the fashion world, has gained increased attention in recent years. The debate on inclusivity also seeks to answer essential questions such as what fashion is, and how does it include and exclude people.

"The term fashion is mainly used for clothing styles from the West, while cultures from India or South America can be just as interesting", says Teunissen. "Those styles are often categorised as 'costume or regional dress', and can be found in ethnography museums. Within fashion research, there is currently a lot of discussion about this whole classification."


There is also debate among researchers and professionals about the values and norms that fashion conveys. "What do we really value about clothing? There is a lot of dialogue about that. We need to redefine our views on fashion, and what we value", says Teunissen.

Changing our view on fashion is also urgent, as fast fashion leads to enormous overproduction with harmful consequences, and this system has gone into overdrive. Teunissen adds: “Influencers sell one-day fashion items. Their followers wear them only once for the Instagram photo and then throw them away. Trends are passing by faster and faster. Designers, researchers and students are therefore trying to change this system by looking for other ways to give value to clothing, for example by finding that value in quality or timelessness."


As a professor at AUAS, Teunissen will investigate how digitalisation, the Internet and globalisation are changing fashion and its values. She will specifically look at the implications for the decolonisation and de-westernisation of fashion. She will also focus on innovation for sustainability and the way in which digitalisation of the profession plays a crucial part in this transition.

Teunissen is also AMFI's new director, so fashion students, teachers and researchers will be even more closely in touch with international research on fashion tech, sustainability, and inclusiveness. The insights and scientific collaborations resulting from Teunissen’s research projects will be especially useful when designing the upcoming fashion Master's programme in Digitalisation at the AUAS.


As Professor of Fashion Design and Identity, José Teunissen will join the AUAS Fashion Research and Technology research group led by Professor Troy Nachtigall. Teunissen has a great track record in the international world of fashion research. She was for many years Professor in Fashion Design at ArtEZ (as one of the first fashion professors in the Netherlands), and later became a Professor at the University of the Arts in London. Teunissen has also curated for several museums and exhibitions, including the Fashion Biennale in Arnhem, the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum and the Museum of the Image in Breda. She has been AMFI's new director since March this year.

José Teunissen conducts her research from the field of humanities, wich adds a new dimension to current fashion research at AUAS and other universities of applied sciences. In this approach fashion is studied primarily as a cultural phenomenon, related to identity and underlying values. What exactly is fashion; how do we deal with clothing, and what does this convey about a society or group?


Troughout the past decades fashion researchers have pointed to the emancipatory power of fashion. The first emancipatory wave took place after the industrial revolution, when cheap clothing became available to most of the population. A second wave of emancipation took place in the 1960s, when ready-to-wear clothing became massively available, and workman's clothes and second-hand items became popular.

In recent years however researchers point to the fact that fashion can also include and exclude. Fashion students are trying to change this by designing gender fluid clothing, for example.