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.S., 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 of the Dress and Body Association (www.dress-body-association.org) and serves on the editorial advisory board for Bloomsbury Fashion Central.  Her research interests include African dress and fashion, Islamic fashion, 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 teaching has included textile labs, cultural aspects of dress, autobiographies of dress and the body, fashion history, fashion theory, and aesthetics.

Dr. Akou is an adjunct faculty member in Art History, Anthropology, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and an affiliate of the African Studies Program, Islamic Studies Program, and the Center for Studies of the Middle East.

Recent Publications

  • McGregor, JoAnn, Heather Akou, and Nicola Stylianou, eds. (forthcoming in 2021), ‘Creating African Fashion Histories,’ Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Akou, Heather (forthcoming in 2020), ‘Prison Uniforms on the Outside: Intersections with US Popular Culture,' in Fashion, Style & Popular Culture.
  • Akou, Heather (2020), ‘Freedom of Speech: A Recent History of Political T-Shirts in the United States’ in Clothing Cultures, 6(2): pp. 179-198.
  • Akou, Heather Marie (2019), ‘Tetela Amulets: Reinterpreting a Medical Anthropology Collection as a Fashion Benchmark,' in International Journal of Fashion Studies, 6(2): pp. 163-180.
  • 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.