Mass Fashion: Past, Present, and Future

October 5-6, 2018
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Alfond Auditorium


Mass Fashion: Past, Present, Future, a joint public symposium, is scheduled for October 5-6, 2018, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It will feature established and emerging Boston designers such as Chris Donovan, Zainab Koroma, Suzanne Watzman, and Erin Robertson, winner of Project Runway season 15, along industry experts such as Chris Wawrousek of New Balance and Tosha Hays of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America. They will be joined by curators and academics who will provide a context for discussing such topics as Industry, Education, Technology, Progressivism, Immigration, and why Massachusetts is the Future of Fashion. Each session will include three 20-minutes talks and be followed by a panel discussion in which audience participation will be encouraged. 

Tickets are free and available on a first come, first served basis. They can be picked up the morning of each day of the symposium between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. at the Huntington Avenue entrance of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. If you have any questions, please contact Catherine Tutter at

The symposium is sponsored by the Ann and John Clarkeson Lecture and Programming Fund for Textiles and Costume, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.



October 5, 2018

10:30     Welcome
Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

10:35     Session 1: Industry
Chair, Pam Parmal, Chair and David and Roberta Logie Curator of Textile and Fashion Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  • Massachusetts Textiles: Reinventing a Historic Industry to Serve Fashion, Craft, and Technology
    Tricia Wilson Nguyen, Principal, Thistle Threads and Fabric Works
  • Industry and Art: The Development of New England’s Textile Manufactures
    Diane Fagan Affleck, Retired Curator, American Textile History Museum
  • Heralding the Dawn of a Fabric Revolution
    Tosha Hays, Chief Product Officer, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America

12:00     Lunch

1:30       Session 2: Education        
Chair: Chloe Chapin, PhD candidate, American Studies, Harvard University

  • Progressive Education in Boston and the Rise of Arts and Craft Jewelry
    Nonie Gadsden, Katharine Lane Weems Senior Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Fashion and Slavery, A New Course in Fashion History
    Jonathan Michael Square, Lecturer, Harvard University
  • Sustainability, Technology, and Diversity in Contemporary Design Education
    James Mason, Associate Professor of Fashion Design, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

3:00      Break

3:15       Session 3: Technology
Chair: Petra Slinkard, Nancy B. Putnam Curator of Fashion and Textiles, Peabody Essex Museum

  • Innovation and Tradition:  Making Shoes in Massachusetts, 1800-1900  
    Paula Richter, Curator for Exhibitions and Research, Peabody Essex
  • Collaboratively Crafted
    Chris Wawrousek, Senior Creative Design Lead – New Balance Innovation Studio
  • From Repair to Shoe Designer: My Transition to the Footwear Industry
    Chris Donovan, President, Chris Donovan Footwear

October 6, 2018

10:30     Session 4: Progressivism
Chair, Laura Johnson, Curator, Historic New England

  • Styling the American Suffragist: Fashion and Boston’s Battle for the Ballot
    Raissa Bretaña, Fashion Historian
  • Butch Heroes: Clothing and Gender
    Ria Brodell, Artist and Author
  • Recycled, Reclaimed, Sustainable Fashion: Less is More is Less….
    Suzanne Watzman, Tamaryn Design

12:00     Lunch

1:30       Session 5: Immigration
Chair, Christie Jackson, Senior Curator, The Trustees of Reservations

  • Fashioning Dress, Fashioning Identity: Irish Dressmakers and Milliners in 19th- and 20th-century Massachusetts
    Wendy Gamber, Chair and Byrnes Professor, Department of History, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Immigration and the Future of US Apparel Manufacturing
    Brenna Nan Schneider, Founder and CEO, 99Degrees
  • Blending the Traditional and the Modern in Global Design
    Zainab Koroma, Zainab Sumu Primitive Modern

3:00      Break

3:15       Session 6: Future
Chair: Michelle Finamore, Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts

  • Materials by Design
    Jifei Ou, Research Assistant, MIT Media Lab, Tangible Media Group
  • Why Boston: Science, Art, and the Future of Fashion
    Erin Robertson, Project Runway Winner Season 15 and CEO, AN_ERIN
  • Energizing the Fashion Economy in Massachusetts
    Nicole Fichera, Nicole