Charlotte Brachtendorf


Virtually Dressed: Towards an Anthropomedial Theory of Digital Fashion (Arbeitstitel)


Digital fashion describes a recent phenomenon of garments designed digitally with 3D software to be then edited onto photographed bodies. “Dressed” in digital fashion, users can upload these images to Instagram. Through the Dutch digital only fashion house The Fabricant and online marketplaces for digital fashion like DressX, digital fashion of late has garnered substantial attention. Within the fashion industry, digital fashion is largely perceived to be less wasteful and thus treated as a solution to the industries environmental problem. It is this phenomenon of digital fashion that is central to my dissertation. Specifically, I investigate how digital fashion can be understood in terms of materiality and embodiment. In popular media, digital fashion is thought to differ from physical garments in that it is immaterial, disembodied or even “not real”. This presupposes a fundamental divide between a seemingly immaterial digital culture and a physical material culture. Through the lens of anthropomediality, I propose to bridge this gap in the notion of digital fashion. The neological term of anthropomediality has developed out of media philosophy and refers to the irreducible and antecedent entanglement of humans-and-media as a site of production for human modes of existence. This relational approach, which employs a wide notion of media to include fashion, anthropomediality conflicts with widespread dualisms, such as nature-technology, inside-outside and of course matter-meaning. In line with new materialist and material culture approaches, I thus argue for a material-discursive notion of fashion generally and digital fashion specifically. The material-discursive nature of digital fashion is evident in its confinement to images where it manifests in a two-fold materiality: That of the hardware or apparatus and the sensuality of the simulated or imaginary. From these reflections on the digital materiality of both images and fashion, arguments regarding the haptic visuality of digital fashion images and their embodiment via surrogate bodies can be made. Being a clear and vivid object of investigation, digital fashion is able to uncover and illustrate the inadequacy of a materiality-immateriality dualism that is still prevalent in discourses pertaining both to the digital and fashion. As such, I hope to contribute to a nuanced understanding of the medialities of fashion beyond traditional fashion media.



Charlotte Brachtendorf is a fashion and media scholar with an interest in the mediality and materiality of (digital) fashion. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the research training group media anthropology at the Bauhaus-University Weimar and a lecturer in cultural studies in fashion and textiles at the University of Paderborn.

She graduated from the M.A. in Fashion Critical Studies (Fashion Communication) at Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London) in 2019 with a dissertation on virtual influencers supervised by Dr. Marketa Uhlirova. Previously, she received her M.A. in Media Cultural Studies from the University of Freiburg (Germany). During this time, she studied both at Waseda University (Tokyo, Japan) and at Jesus College, University of Oxford (UK). Charlotte Brachtendorf further holds a B.A. in Information Design from the Stuttgart Media University (Germany), which included a stay abroad at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore). Throughout her studies, she has held several positions as a student research assistant, amongst others at the chair of media cultural studies at the University of Freiburg (Prof. Dr. Robin Curtis). From 2012 to 2019, Charlotte Brachtendorf was a scholarship holder at Cusanuswerk (Catholic church and German state scholarship for academic excellence). Additionally, she has been a recipient of the Baden-Württemberg scholarship in 2016 and 2017.



Lil Miquela in the Folds of Fashion: (Ad-)Dressing Virtual Influencers, Fashion, Style & Popular Culture 9, no. 4 (2022): 483-499, 

Materialitäten virtueller Mode: das Fallbeispiel The Fabricant (together with Helga Behrmann and Judith Brachem), Jahrbuch Netzwerk Mode Textil 2022: 95-103.

Auf Tuchfühlung mit dem Tod. Rezension zu: M. Haller/T. Helmers/ S. Mallon (Hg.) (2020): Der Tod und das Ding. Textile Materialitäten im Kontext von Vergänglichkeit, Jahrbuch für Tod und Gesellschaft 2023: 187-190.



Medialität und Materialität: Mode(theorien) in den Medienwissenschaften, Nachwuchstagung des Netzwerk Mode Textil, Berlin, 11.05.2023.

The Way It Moves: Digital Fashion and the Cinematic, Digital Fashion Symposium, Parsons Paris & London College of Fashion, 14.04.2023.

Materializing Digital Fashion, Earth, Water, Air, Fire: The Four Elements of Fashion conference, Università Iuav di Venezia, 16.03.2023

Materialitäten virtueller Mode am Beispiel von The Fabricant (together with Helga Behrmann and Judith Brachem), Jour Fixe Netzwerk Mode Textil, 21.06.2022

Fashioning the In-Between: Everyday Aesthetics in Contemporary Tokyo Street Style, Sartorial Society Series 5: The Places and Spaces of Dress, 05.05.2022

Material Dress and Immaterial Fashion? On the Entanglement of Dress and Fashion, Defining the Contours of Dress Studies, Dress and Body Association annual conference, 30.10.2021

Panel chair for „Performing Gender“ at the Dress and Body Association annual conference, 30.10.2021

Panel chair for „Inter / Intra / Infra. Eine Wissensökologie des Dazwischen aus medienanthropologischer Perspektive“ at Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft annual conference, University of Innsbruck, 23.09.2021

Body and Mind in Digital Fashion, Virtually (Un)Dressed: Researching the Body in the Digital Age, Dress and Body Association Conference, 13.11.2020

Fashioning Virtual Influencers, Critical Fashion Studies Conference, University of Melbourne, School of Culture and Communication, 27.02.2020

Virtual Influencers, M.A. Fashion Communication Evening, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, 16.10.2019

Japanese Aesthetics in Tokyo Street Style, Practice Based Fashion in Research, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, 05.10.2018



„Modedarstellungen zwischen Text und Bild“
University of Paderborn, fall term 2023/24

„Streetstyle, Subcultures & Authenticity“
University of Paderborn, fall term 2023/24

„Digital Fashion: Mode und Materialität“
University of Paderborn, fall term 2022/23

„How the female body became political in the 70s and 80s: Examining film and fashion as bodily media“ (together with Hannah Peuker) at the international Bauhaus Spring School, Bauhaus University Weimar, fall term 2021/22

„(Digital) fashion through the lens of new materialisms“
Evening lecture at Central Saint Martins, University at the Arts London, 27.10.2021



Netzwerk Mode Textil
Dress and Body Association