Heather Akou

Co-Area Coordinator, Fashion Design, Associate Professor, Fashion Design, Director, Sage Collection

(812) 855-6163
Fashion history, product development
IU Bloomington
Kirkwood Hall 300


  • Ph.D., Design, Housing, & Apparel, University of Minnesota, 2005
  • M.S., Design, Housing & Apparel, University of Minnesota, 2001
  • B.A., Studio Art, Macalester College, 1998


Heather Akou is a fashion historian and director of the Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection, which includes the Glenn Close costume collection. In addition to serving on the editorial advisory board for Bloomsbury Fashion Central, she has published in numerous anthologies, encyclopedias, and academic journals. Recent articles have appeared (or will soon appear) in ‘Fashion Theory,’ ‘Dress,’ ‘International Journal of Fashion Studies,’ ‘Fashion, Style & Popular Culture,’ and ‘American Craft Inquiry.’ A co-edited anthology, ‘Creating African Fashion Histories,’ will be published by Indiana University Press.

Her research interests include the cultures and histories of non-Western dress (primarily African and Islamic), the politics of dress, the embodiment of religion, working-class histories of dress, narratives surrounding dress and the body, and how non-Western and minority dress is represented in museum collections. Her classes currently include textile labs, cultural aspects of dress, autobiographies of dress and the body, fashion history, and aesthetics.


Recent Publications

Akou, Heather Marie (in press), ‘Tetela Amulets: Reinterpreting a Medical Anthropology Collection as a Fashion Benchmark,' International Journal of Fashion Studies.

Akou, Heather Marie (in press), ‘Prison Uniforms on the Outside: Intersections with US Popular Culture,' Fashion, Style & Popular Culture.

Akou, Heather Marie (2018), ‘The Politics of Covering the Face: From the ‘Burqa Ban’ to the Facekini,’ Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, DOI: 10.1080/1362704X.2018.1546491.

Akou, Heather Marie (2018), ‘The Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection: A Critical Review of Uses for Teaching and Research,’ American Craft Inquiry, 2(2): pp. 52-60.

Akou, Heather Marie (2015), ‘Becoming Visible: The Role of the Internet in Dress Choices among Native-Born Converts to Islam in North America,’ HAWWA: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World, 13(3): pp 279-296.