Rita Andrade on Brazilian Fashion Theory

Volume 2, Número 1, Março de 2003, Fashion Theory: A Revista da Moda, Corpo e Cultura. Edição Brasileira.

Rita Andrade was editor of the Brazilian edition of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. The journal was in circulation from 2002 to 2004 and 11 issues were published, always to coincide with the publication of the English-language edition of Fashion Theory. Alongside Regina Root, Rita is the guest co-editor of Brazilian Fashion, a special English-language edition of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, which will be published in April 2016. On 10th June 2014, Rita explained to me via skype how Fashion Theory, A Revista da Moda, Corpo e Cultura (as translated into Brazilian Portuguese) originated, and how it achieved the goal that it set itself:

“It began in 1999. I had just finished my MA in Historic Textiles and Dress at Winchester School of Art. I was aware that only a few journals that specialised in dress and fashion were distributed throughout Brazil, and that these were all in European languages. I phoned Berg to see if anything could be done to change this. My first idea was to just have a few Fashion Theory articles translated into Brazilian Portuguese. We later decided that it would be better to have the whole journal translated into Brazilian Portuguese. This would be more useful to Brazilian researchers, who could gain a broader idea of what was going on in the rest of the world in terms of fashion and dress.
I returned to Brazil at the end of 1999 and attempted to find a Brazilian publisher who would be interested in paying for the translation of the journal. It is important to remember that the market for this type of publication does not bring financial remuneration. The Associaçiao Brasileira da Industria Textil e de Confecçao (www.abit.org.br) were interested in getting closer to universities in Brazil at this time and paid for half of the costs of the first two issues.

I also had the help of a friend, Kathia Castilho, who was then a teacher at Universidade Anhembi Morumbi. She helped to negotiate the publication and came up with the idea of adding an article from a Brazilian author in each issue. These articles demonstrated great variety and a more mature approach to fashion and dress. They showed that many of us were teaching fashion at MA level throughout Brazil in many different areas of social sciences, which included the concerns of semiotics and psychoanalysis, and the aesthetic, social, cultural, psychological, economical, and political aspects of dress and fashion. Brazil still had no national association for fashion researchers at this time. Brazil is a huge country and Brazilian researchers were not aware of what was going on nationally or internationally. They were all working individually. They wanted to meet each other and to share ideas, but they didn’t know how to do this. The Brazilian edition of Fashion Theory offered a solution to this problem. It provided Brazilian researchers with up-to-date international fashion publications and interests. It also highlighted that there were many researchers in Brazil who came from the social sciences and were not directly concerned with fashion but working with fashion theory. Fashion programmes in Brazil began to add Fashion Theory to reading lists, bringing about fresh research results.

The translation of Fashion Theory was a difficult process because many of the translators were not specialized in fashion. After two years of circulation we began to realise that out target, which was to bring Brazilian researchers together and to realise our main interests, had been achieved. It was easier for us to read the original version of Fashion Theory in English than to translate it into Brazilian Portuguese.

Unfortunately, the Brazilian edition of Fashion Theory also demonstrated that our interests were still international as opposed to Brazilian fashion and dress. This is a shame. It is pragmatic for Brazilian researchers to take the time to consider Brazilian fashion and dress in detail too – we speak the language, we are closer to the archive, we have a better grasp of the culture and cultural issues and can thus offer something of benefit to international fashion research.”

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