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Digital fashion heritage: Understanding europeanafashion. eu and the Google Cultural Institute’s We Wear Culture

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The digitalization of cultural heritage has become an increasingly common practice among museums and online organizations. Many heritage digitalization projects are driven by an approach called ‘sharing is caring’; that is, the purpose of digitalization is accessibility, making what is considered to be valuable cultural heritage an accessible resource for everyone, while stimulating identity production and sympathy for that heritage. The digitalization of fashion heritage can be seen as part of this movement. In recent years, Europeana Fashion (launched in 2015) and the Google Cultural Institute’s Google Arts and Culture project, We Wear Culture (launched in 2017), have become major online platforms for the distribution of fashion heritage. The aim of the present article is to explore and understand how fashion heritage is performed by these two online initiatives and what constitutes fashion heritage in this context. The article is based on an explorative analysis of the two digital sites, interviews with the managers of each initiative, as well as insights from existing studies of cultural heritage and digitalization.
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Keywords: cultural heritage; digitalization; fashion archives; fashion collections; fashion heritage; online database; past presencing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Copenhagen

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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  • Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty is the first journal dedicated to the critical examination of the fashion and the beauty systems as symbolic spaces of production and reproduction, representation and communication of artifacts, meanings, social practices, and visual or textual renditions of cloth, clothing and appearance.

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