Heather Akou

Co-Area Coordinator, Fashion Design; Associate Professor, Fashion Design

(812) 855-6163

Histories of fashion, dress, and the body; laws and politics; museum collections
IU Bloomington
Kirkwood Hall 300


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


Heather Akou is a historian of fashion, dress, and the body. She is the co-founder and director of the Dress and Body Association (www.dress-body-association.org) and serves on the editorial board of Dress: Journal of the Costume Society of America as well as the editorial advisory board for Bloomsbury Fashion Central. Her research interests include African dress and fashion, Islamic fashion, working-class histories of dress in the United States, and museum collections. She teaches primarily courses in fashion studies including fashion theory, fashion history, cultural aspects of dress, and autobiographies of dress and the body.

Dr. Akou is also an adjunct associate professor in Art History, Anthropology, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, an affiliate of the African Studies Program, Islamic Studies Program, and the Center for Studies of the Middle East, and a core member of the MA in Curatorship program.

Recent Publications

JoAnn McGregor, Heather Akou, and Nicola Stylianou, eds. (2022), Creating African Fashion Histories: Politics, Museums, and Sartorial Practices, Bloomington: Indiana University Press

Heather Akou (2021), ‘Playing Pocahontas: Secret Society Regalia for Women in the United States, 1900-1950,’ The Journal of Dress History, 5(5): pp. 8-42

(2021) 'Telling History through Costumes,’ The Art of the Character: Highlights from the Glenn Close Costume Collection, London: Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers, pp. 55-63

(2020), ‘Prison Uniforms on the Outside: Intersections with US Popular Culture,’ Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, 7(4): pp. 473-499

(2020), ‘Freedom of Speech: A Recent History of Political T-shirts in the United States, Clothing Cultures, special issue on ‘Dress During Times of Unrest,’ 6(2): pp. 179-198