The Substance of Subcultures
Dec 03, 2012

Dr. Jessica Strubel teaches several courses related to the social psychological analysis of dress behavior and fashion history and researches topics related to the unique, unusual, and often unknown to the general public.  She merges these topics into her research regarding the social-cultural analysis of dress.   Her research has focused on the subcultures of Dieselpunk and Steampunk and the diasporic dress of Nigerian Americans in Texas.  Dr. Strubel has presented her Dieselpunk and Steampunk research at conferences and is interested in these subcultures as they relate to consumer identity and to the marketplace.  The Steampunk group is a prolific online consumer group that crosses both apparel and home furnishings industries.  The style is an outgrowth of literature and media in which the 19th century “steam” culture is prominent.   Initially the products – fashion and home furnishings -- were created as unique individual items.  However, with the demand for the products and the creation of a prolific online community and information exchange forums, these products have become available online and in specialty stores.  Prada featured the Steampunk aesthetic in their Menswear Fall 2012 ad campaign.   

Dr. Strubel has organized several exhibitions, the most recent on the UNT campus that was inspired by her interaction with Nigerian students in a textile science class.  She was intrigued by the printing and brilliant colors of the fabrics of their apparel.  She learned more about the importance of textile production for Nigerian women and the cultural context of the fabrics.  Diasporic identify is created in those individuals with a concept of a recreated or imagined homeland.  People living in other countries will often maintain ties to their homeland by reproducing their image of that homeland at the time of their leaving.  It is often a material culture, such as dress, that exhibits the socio-cultural connection to the homeland.  The exhibition “Diasporic Identify and Dress” presented contemporary Nigerian dress and custom headwraps, known as gele and explained one example of how cultural groups can maintain their ethnic identity and continue to have symbolic ties to their heritage.

Key individuals and groups who provided invaluable help with the recent show were Bolade Ade-Jagun, Katie Phillips, Michelle Olomojobi and Wendy Olumagin who loaned their own garments for the exhibition.  Myra Walker and the staff of the Texas Fashion Collection at UNT, a grant from the Denton Benefit League,  the UNT Galleries and College of Visual Arts and Design, and MDR students Sharee Church, Avery Davis and Natalya Geremesz.

Dr. Strubel is the regional chair of the Southwest Texas Popular Culture Association and the co-editor of the journal Fashion, Style, and Popular Culture. Prior to moving to Texas, Dr. Strubel taught at Berkley College in New York City and worked as the Collection Manager of the Historic Costume & Textiles Collection at the Ohio State University.  

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