This paper examines the ways in which Lord & Taylor department store in New York City sold “style” in the 1920s and 1930s to further our understanding of how retailers used art to market fashion within the developing consumer and advertising culture. It is part of a larger dissertation project focusing on the career of the pioneering Lord & Taylor executive, Dorothy Shaver, who joined the store in 1924 as a comparison shopper and worked her way up the corporate ladder to president in 1945. What made Shaver so successful when high-level female executives, even in retailing, were still rare? This paper argues that a critical component of Shaver’s success stemmed from her talent for selling and her understanding of how modern advertising and retailing were no longer just selling products. Instead, Shaver saw how retailers were selling ideas and lifestyles, as desire more and more trumped necessity in consumption. In defending her print ads that often depicted one item in an “airy, misty” manner without a price, Shaver argued, “We’re selling style, not specifics.” This paper examines how Shaver capitalized on the connection between art and fashion that provided design inspiration and cultural cachet for producers and consumers. Most importantly, she saw modern art as the key to style leadership, which defined the Lord & Taylor brand throughout her tenure there. In turn, this rising emphasis on style opened up even more job opportunities for women in department stores, pointing to the ways in which gender and style expertise were linked.
Using archival and periodical sources, this paper focuses on Dorothy Shaver’s use of modern art and dramatic flair to market style. In 1928, Shaver convinced executives at Lord & Taylor to import and display $100,000 of French art and furniture that included works by modernists such as Picasso and Braque in a month-long Exposition of Modern French Decorative Art. While the decade had seen other department store art expositions, Lord & Taylor’s show was unique in that it imbued both the art and consumer goods with dazzling glamour that awed 300,000 spectators. The opening night was like a theater premiere and made modern art exciting and accessible to the general public. Dorothy Shaver effectively bridged the French high culture modern art world with the glamorous American dream world of consumer capitalism. Shaver’s purpose for the exposition was to test the public’s readiness for modern art and to inspire American artists to create modern “distinctively American” designs. She followed the 1928 modern art exhibition with a major advertising campaign at the height of the Depression in 1932 to publicize American designers who had previously worked in Paris’s shadow. These efforts contributed to Dorothy Shaver’s definition of Lord & Taylor’s “personality” as a leader not just in style generally, but more specifically in “American style,” that the store advertised and sold to women.
During the 1920s, economists such as Paul Nystrom had written of the benefits of using fashion as a ‘value’ to be added to goods to make them more attractive to consumers, and to increase sales. Manufacturers, retailers and advertisers were quick to adopt this idea, and evermore-sophisticated merchandising and promotional devices were applied to products, including clothing and accessories. New job categories, in particular that of ‘stylist’ were part of the booming economy of fashion retailing, as stores sought to add a gloss of fashionability to their wares.
When the Depression hit, these practices had to be reevaluated, and as sales losses and job cuts hit New York stores, the fashion industry had to consolidate its practices and focus on effective designing, marketing and retailing to retain their businesses. This paper will examine the ways that New York-made sportswear was used to define a specifically American form of clothing, and how retailers and advertisers became increasingly focused in their sales techniques. New consumer groups were identified, in particular businesswomen and college girls. Increasingly sophisticated campaigns were launched that saw collaborations between manufacturers, retailers, advertisers and stores to optimize key messages about sportswear as a practical, democratic and crucially, modern form of dress for middle class consumers. As the idea of the ‘American Look’ began to crystallize, retailers, especially Lord & Taylor, under the guidance of Dorothy Shaver sought to use every area of their stores, from shop window to interior displays, to encourage consumers to buy co-coordinated wardrobes of separates.
This paper will draw upon extensive research in American archives to analyse, for example, retail workshops organized by the Fashion Group, Dorothy Shaver’s personal papers detailing her ideas for Lord & Taylor, and fashion magazines and photographic archives that show the relationships made between shop windows, advertising and editorial imagery to produce coherent sales offensives.
E-mail: c/o Jon.Stobart@northampton.ac.uk
This is a contribution about the interplay between ‘consumer practices’, especially the role of ‘fashion’, and ‘retailing’ in eighteenth-century Antwerp. In this article we will try to map how the major consumer changes influenced the retail market for textiles. This will be done both by sketching the major structures of textile retailing firstly. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to functional specialization the retail infrastructure of Antwerp seems to follow the general trends in changing consumer patterns. Around 1800 the textiles market was abruptly affected by the competition of French fashion. Thereafter the cotton and mixed cottons craze took over. But, more importantly, compared to total population ever more people engaged in the selling of textiles and garments. In order to verify whether changing consumer habits contributed to changing retail practices, we will visit a specific shop type, the boutique à la mode, and one case more in particular. A closer reading of the correspondence of this fashion shop confirms how the tyranny of fashion, the search for novelty, the growing diversity of choices for consumers, etc. contributed to the reinforcement of ‘arbiters of taste’ of different kinds. These factors need to be taken into account when assessing the growing weight of the retail sector in the urban economies. Finally, we try to assess the social importance for the urban retailers. While it can be questioned whether eighteenth-century shops really managed to effect significant productivity gains, they seem not to have lost in social incomes. In sum, the textile retail sector grew in relative importance as a consequence of consumer changes. These also enhanced redistribution of income in favour of the retail sector. As far as the textile sector is concerned the question can be raised whether the famous ‘retail revolution’ really deserves –in effect- the label of a ‘transaction cost boom’.
In her autobiography Shocking Life published in 1954, the Paris couturier Elsa Schiaparelli acknowledged the unique role the United States played in her success: “France gave me the inspiration, America the sympathetic approval and the result”. Schiaparelli’s six year residence in the United States from 1916 to 1922 provided her with unique insight into American taste and business practices. After working as a free lance designer for several years, she opened her own salon in 1927 selling hand-knitted sweaters and sportswear. Americans were intrigued by her compelling (albeit mythical) rags-to-riches story - a single mother, abandoned by her husband, who by applying imagination and ingenuity to a pair of common knitting needles could become an internationally successful business woman during the Great Depression. This paper will examine Schiaparelli’s relationship with American manufacturers, store buyers, consumers and media between 1927 and 1945. It will look at the business strategies she developed for the American market from manufacturer tie-ins to lecture tours and contrast these with the approach she adopted for the British market. In addition it will compare her marketing techniques with those of leading Paris couturiers including Paul Poiret, Gabrielle Chanel and Lucien Lelong who also met with success in the United States.
An upheaval like that of 1789 provokes tremendous changes, but transformations in distribution networks began to occur long before the Revolution. Fashion means change, and shopkeepers played with that, bringing clothing to fashion; they were also keen to play with circumstances, including changes brought about by revolution and war. In this paper, I will try to show how the luxury market during the French Revolution, especially that for textiles and dress, was built on old habits, recent transformations, and novelties. Drawing on newspaper advertisements, a medium used by shopkeepers since the end of the seventeenth-century, and increasingly from the 1750’s, I propose to show how the period immediately following the revolution saw the heightened promotion of features which already existed, such as fixed prices, second-hand goods, warehouses, and advertising discourse; but often with intriguing new emphases.
Much recent scholarship has emphasized gendered aspects of expanding consumption in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, particularly the contributions of women on both the demand and the supply sides. According to Clare Crowston, for example, French women’s increasing access to credit underlay the “important growth” of the retail economy, not simply promoting the “consumer revolution” but “giving it a notably ‘feminine’ cast and helping to define consumption as an essentially female activity.”(66-67) Women’s purchases of fashion and luxury items, notably textiles and garments, have received special attention. Parisian women, Daniel Roche maintains, pioneered the creation and adoption of new apparel styles and practices.
Historians have also credited female retailers with a unique role in changing consumption. Not only did women shopkeepers become more numerous in Philadelphia and New York, Patricia Cleary has proposed, but they stocked different items than their male counterparts, advertised them in distinctive ways, and acted as fashion leaders for their female customers.
Studies like these have opened vital avenues for research and advanced provocative interpretations. Yet despite Cleary’s suggestive work, much remains obscure about gender and the distribution of textiles and dress, most of all in the colonies. This paper intends to help remedy this situation by comparing retailers in half a dozen cities and their commercial hinterlands in British and French North America and the Caribbean between the late seventeenth century and about 1770. Grounded in a variety of quantitative and qualitative sources—including probate inventories, newspaper advertisements, and merchant correspondence—the paper will extend and test existing analyses. It will consider questions such as: What distinguished female from male cloth and clothing retailers? Did they offer fabrics of dissimilar types or price ranges? Did either specialize in luxury and fashionable wares? Did they market their goods differently? Did they seek to serve as arbiters of novel or fashionable items? In sum, was colonial textile retailing gendered in significant ways? Finally, the paper will place its findings on the effects of gender on textile retailing in ethno-racial, regional, and imperial contexts.
Patricia Cleary, “’She Will Be in the Shop’: Women’s Sphere of Trade in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia and New York,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 119.3 (July 1995): 181-202
Clare Crowston, “Family Affairs: Wives, credit, consumption and the law in Old Regime France,” in Suzanne Desan and Jeffrey Merrick, eds., Family, Gender, and Law in Early Modern France (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009), 62-100
Daniel Roche, The culture of clothing. Dress and fashion in the 'ancien regime' (1989; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)
This paper reconsiders the historical spaces and networks of retail and consumption by looking at the mid twentieth century heyday of luxury liner travel. It considers how strategies of store design, placement and advertisement functioned to collapse distances between the ocean and metropolitan shopping street, and were also part of complex international marketing strategies of British retailing, adjusting to changed overseas markets, tourism and imperial structures. Liners functioned as outposts of distinctly metropolitan consumption, and this paper looks at attempts by a series of West End firms, or chains with prominent West End flagships, to create outposts of London’s fashionable consumption on the high seas. Menswear retailers were especially important in this respect, as the well established international reputation of Savile Row tailoring ensured British menswear enjoyed a particular cachet. Passengers were considered an unusually captive audience for regular advertising campaigns in the in house Cunard company magazines.
The careful and complex spatial ordering of social life along class lines combined with the unsettling of national borders understandably seen as providing potentially lucrative breeding ground for insecurities about appropriate dress. A particular study is made of menswear retailer Austin Reed's outlets onboard celebrated liners such as the Aquitania, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth. Their positioning and design was taken seriously, largely employing the architect Percy Westwood who had been responsible for the much-admired mainland shops. This close family likeness helped ensure the transatlantic branches were incorporated into the broader network of Austin Reed stores, each linked closely to the flagship head quarters in London’s Regent Street and infused with the flavour of the West End.
Advertisements and related notices in the newspapers and magazines about clothing and finery were a invaluable resource for women, especially to remote Western Australian colonists. Women were the primary audience for most nineteenth-century advertisements. The advertisement became both mirror and instrument of the social ideal. For example, “It was possible to create the illusion of the ‘perfect lady’, a beacon of Victorian affluence, via advertisements.” Such advertisements would suggest fringes to improve the coiffure, corsets to mould the female figure, baby food which closely resembled human milk in composition, and matching soap for the hands and complexion.
Fashion advertisements during the mid-nineteenth century were small and not more than a price list or itemised inventory, but by the late 1880s, illustrated advertisements were clearly amongst the most visually arresting in the Victorian periodical press, and reflected consumer interest and the effectiveness of advertising. Although most advertisements were for expensive goods which could only be afforded by the affluent, the illustrated fashion advertisements would have been available to a cross-section of society.
In colonial Western Australia, illustrations began appearing in newspapers from 1841 as tiny sketches of horses, ships, logos and trademarks. The Queen was also mentioned in some advertising. The first fashion/attire illustration in an advertisement was during the 1860s, and included sketched pictures of stays and crinoline petticoats. Until the mid-1870s, the majority of clothing advertising was on the front page of newspapers which suggests their importance in society. These advertisements focused directly on material quantity and variety, rather than on convincing readers to purchase goods. Brand names were also used to advertise food, beverages, medicine, hardware and clothing. Underwear such as stays (Carter’s stays), crinolines (Carter’s crinolines), petticoats (Carter’s petticoats), corsets (Thomson’s corsets, La Noblesse corsets and Marque Deposee French corsets) and textiles such as Louis’ Velveteen were some of the imported brand named clothing merchandise in nineteenth-century Western Australian advertisements.
Nineteenth-century advertisements reflected a domestic ideology and an idealised feminine appearance and were directed towards women, ie, fashion advertisements including elegant apparel, coiffured hair, adorned hair, fine fabrics, a variety of packaged/convenience food and medicines primarily attracted female consumers. When compared with British advertising of the time which focused on luxury goods, Western Australian advertising was more fundamental to the needs of the colony. Advertising promoted the availability of a range of goods from the most mundane to the luxurious.
Leob, L. A. 1994, Consuming Angels: Advertising and Victorian Women, Oxford University Press,
Colonial Western Australian Newspapers, eg, The Inquirer, The Western Mail
In recent years an impressive body of literature has considered the global impact of the trade in Indian cottons before 1850. Prior to European and American industrialization, Indian cottons dominated the textile trade in Asia, the Americas and Europe. Growing scholarship (Kriger 2006, 2009, Prestholdt 1998, Machado 2009) reveals that Africans were no less enthusiastic in their consumption of the brightly colored, finely spun and woven Indian cloth. To meet African demand, Indians producers were soon creating especially for this market. African weavers in turn were often influenced and stimulated by the imported goods, creating “import blends” that combined local aesthetics and techniques with elements of the foreign wares (Aronson 1999, Kriger 2006, Riello and Partahsarathi 2009).
A pre-determined focus on India or cotton, however, can mask other influential Asian textile imports.
This paper considers the case of the island nation of Madagascar, which lies some 250 miles off the east African Coast. An analysis of historical, material and linguistic evidence reveals that beyond Indian wares, silk fibers and cloth from Oman played an important role in the commercial, artistic and cultural life of Madagascar from 1750 to 1900. During this period, Omani striped and checkered silks were in high demand as dress among Malagasy populations, particularly on the west coast, with a few select styles appropriated for local ceremonial life and as markers of ethnic identity. European producers would attempt to produce and market industrial imitations, but with little success.
Local Malagasy weavers, on the other hand, would turn the trade to their benefit. In response to their demand for Bombyx silk yarn (sily) Omani traders to Madagascar opened a trade in these textile fibers. Merina weavers in the interior highlands imported large amounts, feeding a creative explosion in highland weaving in the early 19th century that produced new styles and eventually helped to inspire the development of a local sericulture. Merina weavers also came to adopt certain Omani textile aesthetics and produce Omani-style striped cotton textiles. Beyond Madagascar, along much of East Africa, from Somalia to northern Mozambique, local weavers’ similar emulation of Omani cloth in the 19th century gave rise to what might be termed a common Western Indian Ocean rim style.
The paper traces the political and economic shifts in the Indian Ocean that led to the ascendancy of Omani political and economic distribution chains, as well as the local aesthetic and social dimensions of consumer demand that made Madagascar fertile grounds for Omani wares.
The accounts of Charles II’s wardrobe of the robes record the merchants supplying the king with cloth, trimmings and dress accessories for all 25 years of his reign (1660-85). Consequently, it is possible to recreate the network of merchants in London and from elsewhere who supplied the king. This group of suppliers will be analysed in terms of the numbers of individuals working for the crown and the range of goods that they traded in as well as considering the scale of their business (both in financial terms and in terms of the number of years that they supplied the king). Their links to the livery companies in London will be explored. In addition, these individuals used their royal connections to secure business from wealthy Londoners and members of the royal court. While the majority of the suppliers were English, a small but significant group were from France and the Low Countries and the goods that they sold will be compared with those sold by English traders. Other themes to be explored will include comparing this group of individuals with those that supplied cloth and clothing to the king while he was in exile and with those that supplied his father to see how far the interregnum and the restoration affected the supply lines that worked to keep the king fashionably dressed.
Kokkola is a port town on the Gulf of Bothnia in Finland. The town has a history of famous shipbuilders and wealthy tradesmen. Founded in 1620, Kokkola (Gamla Carleby), soon became a flourishing town with an important port. Skilled boat builders were sent from the Carlskrona shipyard to Kokkola in the 17th century, in the time of the Swedish rule. This era of ship building lasted for more than two centuries, when about 1,000 sailing ships were constructed in all.
Commercial activity of utilising and selling ships built in Kokkola was based on the export of tar, pitch, boards, planks, and nails. This made it possible for everything novel to reach Kokkola extremely quickly especially after 1765, when Kokkola became a staple town. Overseas trade took first place with Stockholm, then with the Mediterranean countries, and later, with India, China and Africa. Infectious diseases were the disadvantage of intense international trade connections. Yet, the advantage was the introduction of novelties and the increase of knowledge about overseas countries. Kokkola had a well-built distribution network of imported goods.
My paper presentation (shorter paper presentation of 15 minutes) will deal with the import of fashion, textiles and dress as a part of international trade in 1750-1854 in Kokkola. The presentation will address the following:
I have chosen to study women’s wardrobes using the inventories of the diseased. The inventories do not only disclose the names of imported or home-made textiles but also the distribution networks of textiles, and they reveal how a lady got her clothes, and also who inherited them.
In my presentation I will focus on Finland, the province of Ostrobothnia and Kokkola. Merchant had to act both as wholesalers and retailers. Money was seldom involved in a society of barter economy. In the mid 19th century Kokkola was strategically in a divide. It was too expensive to build large steamers, and the shipyards in Kokkola lacked the technology that was needed for steamers. When Russia entered the Crimean war by marching over the Danube to Turkey, Finland, as a part of Russia, entered war with UK, France and Sardinia. After the Halkokari Skirmish in Kokkola in 1854, a time of depression followed in Finland. The new industrial era after the depression introduced textile and leather manufacture and the construction of smaller boats intended for private use.
It is well-established that the unusually high labor demands of sugar production played a major role in the development and expansion of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. What is still incompletely understood is what ‘drove’ trade on the African side of the Atlantic, in what has been called the ‘hidden half’ of Atlantic commerce. This significant cross-cultural trading system offered overseas commodities in exchange for African exports. The latter – especially slaves and gold – have rightfully garnered a great deal of scholarly attention, while basic and important questions remain unaddressed about imports. What commodities were in demand on the West African coast and especially, when, where, and why? Aggregate figures for the British trade show that textiles were the largest and most valuable category of commodities imported into Africa during the Atlantic slave trade era as a whole. This paper examines and compares commodity transactions along the upper Guinea coast ca. 1700 in order to begin to identify patterns of textile consumption in West Africa over time and the role of West African consumer tastes as ‘drivers’ of Atlantic trade.
The ‘gew-gaw’ myth – that ‘natives’ traded valuable items and resources to Europeans in exchange for cheap trinkets – persists today, albeit in new forms. When commodity transactions in the Atlantic slave trade are noted at all in the literature or in textbooks, they tend to be characterized schematically and in rather dismissive ways: Europeans offered uniformly cheap overseas goods; or, Europeans offered exotic luxuries; or, there were so many different overseas goods that the trade appears to have been chaotic, reflecting either fickle or incomprehensible African consumer tastes. Records of commodity transactions between Royal African Company factors and West African consumers and export suppliers in the late 17th and early 18th centuries reveal instead, and not surprisingly, that transactions varied considerably in scale, scope, and value, and that it is possible to identify some trends in consumer demand over time. By paying close attention to what specific commodities were traded and what their visual and material features were can take us closer to making some sense of the rich complexity of the African side of Atlantic trade.
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, West Africa imported woolens and linens from Europe and cottons and silks from Asia. One might easily assume that these textiles were in such demand in West Africa because they were novelties. Some novelty textiles were indeed imported – idiosyncratic tastes and sometimes highly extravagant desires were expressed by individuals in the gift-giving exchanges that were so central to trade negotiations and agreements. But most of the foreign imports were very much like textiles that had been manufactured in West Africa already for centuries. Centers of cotton textile production existed in many parts of West Africa, some of them producing cottons for export that circulated as a form of commodity currency. Moreover, the locally-made cotton commodity currencies were goods that European traders learned they had to have in order to conduct their daily business on the Guinea coast.
For many female migrants in sites across the British Empire locating dress commodities was an on-going challenge. Their dress, that most intimate expression of subjectivity was critical in helping them to negotiate their new and often alien surroundings, for without such items their very sense of self was threatened. If they were to make a new life within a new circle of acquaintance they needed to be able to present themselves in suitable attire, their dress pivotal in developing ‘social authenticity’, (Maynard). It was essential therefore that they avail themselves of all and every means of acquiring not only the commodities but arguably even more importantly the knowledge which underpinned their use in situ.
This paper analyses dress networks employed by women in colonial societies during the latter half of the nineteenth century. By so doing it reveals not only similarities between the ways of the metropolis and the colonies but also, and intriguingly ways in which these networks varied across the British Empire. Consideration is given to the formal chains of knowledge and supply, including shops, mail-order and the press, but also the more informal links such as second-hand goods, dress exchanges and that most welcome of sights ‘the new arrival’. With due reference to personal writings, contemporary publications and photographs this discussion explores networking for dress in societies as diverse as India, New Zealand and South Africa.
By examining mechanisms by which dress was sourced and circulated it becomes apparent that apparel was a source of considerable power in colonial societies. It had priority for the individual and her peers, but also indeed for wider society. If ‘outposts of empire’ were to move beyond being merely territory and progress towards ‘civilisation’ they had to develop a range of social and economic activities. Dress and the networks of its distribution and use prove to have been a priority in that process.
The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries established in the United States around the turn of the century as charity foundations. Yet, despite this status, by the middle of the century, both organizations sought to “avoid the appearance of charity” and to offer “not Charity, but a Chance.” As part of these changing ideals of social welfare, they began to offer minimal employment to the indigent by hiring them to sort through and mend donated, used goods. Another part of this shift to an emphasis on self-help for the impoverished was the inclusion of a small fee in exchange for repurposed clothing and household goods, the likes of which had previously been donated free of charge.
Nineteenth-century charitable groups often donated items directly to the needy. However, this clothing was rarely used but rather home-made and recognizable for its cheap simplicity. Does the shift from new to used relate to the change in charitable policies, and the institution of nominal cost? And what do these often Christian-based charity thrift stores have to do with the broader modifications in the perceived value, cultural and monetary, of repurposed clothing? I hope to answer these questions partly by examining the archives of both The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries, and by drawing from various other sources on modern ideas about the importance of fashion to personal improvement, societal membership, and individual identity, such as those posited by Gilles Lipovetsky in The Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy.
This exploration is part of my interest in the twentieth century process of revaluing used goods in America, in which worthless cast-offs became high-priced vintage-wear and donning discarded duds went from shameful to chic. My dissertation, From Goodwill to Grunge: a History of Second-hand in the United States, examines the increase in popularity of a second-hand consumer realm in a consumerist sphere increasingly obsessed with novelty and shaped by planned obsolescence. Used goods have held appeal in twentieth-century America for their association with a defiant aesthetic, as well as for their practical economic benefits. My research explores this under-examined aspect of consumer culture.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
The purpose of our two theses, both from 2008, was to contribute to an increased understanding of the underlying conditions for the development of a domestic market for consumer goods during the first half of the 19th century Sweden. At the same time as the market grew, the distribution of goods was limited by the prevailing trade legislation, regulating who were allowed to trade, as well as the limited extension of the credit and communication systems. Sweden is a vast country with long distances and a spread-out population and at this time the towns were few and small.
Anna Brismark has studied the distribution of goods between the towns and the countryside in the county of Hälsingland in the middle of Sweden. She has analyzed the different kinds of persons involved in the distribution of goods, their functions and mutual relations. In broad outline, this trade involved the merchants purchasing linen goods in the countryside for further selling in Stockholm and other markets on the one hand, and on the other purchasing different kinds of consumer goods from these markets to sell in the countryside. The study includes both peasants trading and the merchants in the small town Hudiksvall.
During the first part of the 19th century peddling was the most important distribution channel for textiles in the Swedish countryside. Pia Lundqvist’s study deals with the itinerant trade from Sjuhäradsbygden in the province of Västergötland, in the south of Sweden. Her study shows the great extent and the wide geographical scope of peddling – and above all – its importance for the spreading of goods, for the increase in demand and in the prolongation also for the growth of a consumer society and industrialization. During the l8th century trade increased rapidly and around 1800 there were at least between 1 000 and 1 500 licensed pedlars from the region who distributed textile goods produced in the proto-industry of their region, as well as textiles from factories in Swedish towns and (illegally) imported fabrics. The trading peasantry played an independent role in relation to the town merchants. This is a decisive difference in contrast to the majority of the itinerant trade on the Continent and in Great Britain. Through their connections with international trading houses in the town of Göteborg they also had a link to the international credit networks and markets for consumer goods.
When we sum up our research we can draw some conclusions. Firstly, the borders between the small and insignificant towns and a dynamic rural economy were vague. Through their trade the pedlars from Västergötland and trading farmers of Hälsingland linked different regions together economically, leading to an integration of the market. The various forms of trade, such as retail trade in the towns, wholesale trade and peddling, were closely linked through credit networks and personal contacts. The dichotomies between country and town and interior and foreign trade, that the previous commercial historical research used, appear far too simplified. Secondly, the trade was in many aspects less hierarchic and more horizontally organized than has been suggested in previous research. Different kinds of trade and different kinds of traders operated side by side. The interaction between them was extensive and the connections were complex. Furthermore, the relationship between the different traders was characterized by both competition and co-operation.
In our present research project, we study the importance of the group of Jewish manufacturers and merchants in the textile trade in Göteborg 1780–1850, since immigrated Jews played an important role in import of textiles to Sweden, as well as for the renewal of textile production, especially printing. To a great extent, the Jews used pedlars for their distribution of their goods. A study of the connections between the Jewish merchants and pedlars and merchants in small country towns gives us a better understanding of the prerequisites for an expanding consumption market for textiles in Sweden.
E-mail: c/o Jon.Stobart@northampton.ac.uk
As one of the most important and expansive products within pre-industrial consumption, used textiles, and old clothing in particular, figured prominently in commercial transactions of all sorts. Old clothing was bestowed upon heirs, given to friends, stolen, bartered, or recycled and reused by second-hand dealers of all sorts, eagerly scavenging streets and countryside. The widespread use of second-hand clothing in the past has made these practices all the more visible through different sources, such as commercial documents, civil lawsuits, municipal legislation, and advertisements. Surprisingly enough, however, not much information exists on the recycling of cloth through public auctions. How did this important early-modern commercial circuit fit in the overall trade and distribution networks of used clothing? Who were the actors (both sellers and buyers) involved? What can the records tell us about the sorts of textiles handled through auctions, and the prices fetched (indicative maybe for the particular price mechanism of these public sales)? On the basis of existing evidence and new archival research, these questions will be tackled for the Southern Netherlands. By studying a transitional period between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, findings will be placed in a dynamic, long-term perspective, focusing on continuities and changes in the auctioning of textiles and clothing.
E-mail: c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper explores the particularities that structured the chains of relation connecting Gujarat in northwestern India to East Central and Southeast Africa in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A region marked by connection and movement to the oceanic space in which it was embedded, Gujarat has been identified – perhaps most explicitly by South Asian and ‘Indian Ocean’ scholars – as “a land of the Indian Ocean as well as of India,” which occupied a central place in western Indian Ocean commercial systems through to the nineteenth century. Of critical importance to the maintenance of this position was the region’s diverse and dynamic cotton textile producing centres. Cloths from Gujarat were traded and transported widely across the Indian Ocean but in the eighteenth century their markets tended to be concentrated in the ocean’s western reaches. While scholarship has recognised the existence of these markets, most of the attention has focused on West Asia/Middle East. By contrast, the place of Africa has tended to be marginalized in these histories. Regarded as being of limited importance to the structure and dynamics of oceanic textile exchange, and to broader narratives of aquatic interaction, East and East Central (and other coastal) Africans often warrant only passing mention. This paper suggests that one way to redress this partial view of western Indian Ocean history and bring Africans into the narrative is to explore the interrelation between East Central and Southeast Africa, and Gujarat and western India as regions with connected Indian Ocean histories. Textile flows are important in apprehending the dynamics of these connections.
A central argument is that demand was shaped by the local particularities of African consumer tastes, and as such dictated the varieties of textiles that entered the East Central and Southeast African markets. Thus, far from being marginalised in this commercial nexus, African consumers were able to negotiate the terms of trade and their engagement in relations of exchange of which they formed an integral part. The level of demand had an influence beyond the continent in that it stimulated productive capacity in a specific locale in Gujarat, Jambusar where the bulk of the western Indian textiles for the African markets were manufactured, in significant ways. To maintain marketability the Vāniyā needed to supply this market with textiles that were in demand or in fashion, and in order to do so effectively and successfully had to ensure that their information on the types of cotton textiles sought in each trading season was always kept up-to-date. In identifying the influence of African consumer tastes this paper contributes to the growing appreciation that Africans, historically “under-considered populations” in narratives of regional and global interconnectivity, exerted leverage in defining material relationships through processes shaped by “direct reciprocities,” a view that is challenging conceptions of seemingly marginal actors as ineffective in influencing larger frameworks of economic exchange. It also suggests that, in order to arrive at a fuller understanding of the dynamics of this commercial nexus, and the regional interrelation that it produced, careful analysis is required that places African consumption and consumer tastes, and the production and procurement processes in India which supplied the African markets, in the same analytic frame. Treating them separately gives us only a partial view of historical processes that connected people in intimate bonds across the Indian Ocean.
E-mail: Peter.McNeil@uts.edu.au Paula.Hamilton@uts.edu.au
Surry Hills is a now gentrified, inner-city area of Sydney (Australia). In the early-twentieth century it was a slum and the site of Sydney’s notorious ‘razor gangs’ and criminal scandals. Adjacent to the arterial railway line serving New South Wales and near the warehouses, emporia and department stores that once clustered in this part of the city, the area was also the centre of clothing production in NSW from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1980s. Companies such as Anthony Hordern’s developed flexible supply chains from this base in the 1920s and 1930s, such as their Brickfield Hill store, the largest in Australia with 1900 employees. By the beginning of the 1930s Depression, the suburb of Surry Hills held 183 textile and clothing companies. These ranged from the production of utilitarian working clothes and men’s hats to the luxury goods and the modern operations of up-market department stores Grace Brothers, Anthony Hordern’s and David Jones’ Marlborough Street factory.
In all major centres of clothing production, immigration has provided human capital. In the 1930s and 1940s a new significant German-Jewish population of émigrés established both small and large-scale production, some bringing with them innovative textile and luxury fabrication possibilities that met the demand for new, lighter clothes such as finely knitted garments that were a part of modern fashion-aesthetics. Working conditions varied. Chinese, Russian and Greek migrant communities both laboured and lived in the area, which was known for ‘sweated’ labour until the 1970s. Many businesses were owned by women, as indicated in their trade listings; the scale and scope of these operations are of particular interest to our study. Rather than seeing the industry as solely a space of exploitation of women, a view that is very marked in the field, we argue that the sector provided employment opportunities for a variety of women – from small entrepreneurs to designer-makers.
Historical studies of gendered consumption have received considerable attention in the Australian context since the 1980s; the inter-relationship of production and consumption is not as well developed. The methodology we use in our study is informed by the intersection of oral history, urban geography and design history. We intend to create an archive that ‘maps’ the area of Surry Hills through a conceptual framework linking the surviving material culture (textiles, clothing, photography) to the changing physical landscape (architecture, places of work, domestic housing, streets and lanes) and the surviving fabric of the built environment (its industrial heritage of conversions, ruins and architectural remains). The project also aims to connect such visual and spatial investigations to the aural and the olfactory (sound and smell), via oral histories of working experience; that is, to re-imagine an embodied sense of the Surry Hills landscape. We will also draw on the stories by the people themselves who lived worked and traded in the clothing trades to better understand the imbrication of labour and capital there. Utilising a range of interdisciplinary methods we explore previously ‘invisible’ urban narratives about the Surry Hills’ past that reflect several different but intersecting viewpoints: fashion and urban studies; memory and heritage, landscape studies and place; work and materiality; and innovation and entrepreneurship. Our objective is to provide a more culturally meaningful and complex notion of the city as a site of urban collective memory, since changes to the urban fabric always carry with them multiple and conflicting interpretations of the past.
This paper will consider new evidence and interpretation for textile production and distribution originating in late eighteenth-century Norwich. Until very recently there was almost no evidence to demonstrate how the Norwich-woven worsted cloth that is well known from samples in pattern books and museum collections was used. An example of a brocade wedding dress (dated 1802) with documentary evidence confirming late-eighteenth century Norwich production for the cloth has come to light in the collection of the Essex Peabody Museum (Massachusetts). The Museum has further examples in its collection with suggested Norwich origins. Additionally three skirts, together with several substantial samples, have recently come to light from a source in Holland. Further work to testify these samples and examples with reference to the Norwich pattern books is underway.
The paper will expand and further develop an earlier investigation into the role of production records, order books and pattern books for Norwich in the late eighteenth century which drew attention to the sophisticated and successful network of production, distribution and marketing systems for which Norwich was well known. In this paper the aim is to make a detailed investigation of specific patterns as prompted by the recent garment evidence, considering such patterns in the light of the distinctive functions of production records, order books and pattern books. I will visit the Essex Peabody Museum and the Joseph Downs Collection in Winterthur, (Delaware) to further detail the evidence of pattern books (Winterthur) and garment/possible garments (EPM). The extent to which it will be possible to trace a succession of stages from production to consumption will be considered with particular reference to extant samples (with supporting evidence) and final destination. Evidence indicates that this should be possible for at least two examples (or types of example), namely worsted brocade (the central wedding-dress example) and striped callimancoe.
Historian Carole Shammas has noted that textiles were of particular significance in the advancement of consumerism in the eighteenth century, and that the diversity of textile goods was in part responsible for such advancement. She draws particular attention to American markets as demonstration of the expansion of choice during this period. The extent to which the diversity of Norwich patterns may have contributed to this process will be addressed as part of the wider context within which the more detailed investigation can be understood.
The advertising culture of Ireland in the early twentieth century is infused with discourses aimed at the female consumer. Various journals, but specifically those directed to a female readership, such as The Lady in the House (later to become, in 1920, Irish Tatler and Sketch) offer a fascinating insight into the representation and cultivation of the female in the commercial sphere. The current paper will address the subject of shopping, fashion, commodity and constructions of femininity in examples from numerous papers, journals and magazines.
Specifically in terms of the flapper phenomenon, the term was officially coined from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel This Side of Paradise (1920), but features in much earlier examples throughout newspaper columns. The flapper became synonymous with ‘trendsetting young women with short hair and short skirts who smoked, drank, and used powder and rouge.’ Represented in literary terms by such figures as Zelda Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker, such women frequently confounded ‘traditional’ perceptions of femininity. The figure of the flapper was exploited in Irish advertising, arguably to promote women’s freedoms with the departure of the corset, alongside the preference for fluid lines.
This paper will explore a number of examples from advertising in terms of leisure wear and sporting attire, as well as censorship from the religious community in Ireland, who maintained that the development of the New Woman compromised the Irish nationalist ideal of the dutiful mother, wife and caregiver. Sermonizing on women’s apparel as linked to moral decay became common: ‘Would you really prefer your daughters to imitate the daring sartorial suggestiveness of the modern flapper rather than the modesty, sweetness and gentleness of Our Blessed Lady?’ In many ways, at the centre of the debate on flappers in Ireland was the suspicion, particularly from parts of the Catholic community, regarding women’s attention to physical beautification and the immodesty of rising hemlines: such practices were construed as calculated to allure men and therefore were morally dangerous. Thus attention to twentieth-century fashion in Ireland thus presents the inherent conflicts in the new Free State: how women were constructed by religion; in what ways ecclesiastical criticism focused on fashion and attire; and how the changes in clothing and shopping practices relate more broadly to consumerism and women’s role in such a development.
The trophy fashion was the social-cultural phenomenon of the post-war time. The clothes that had been designed in premilitary or military years in Germany reached the USSR as the trophies. They changed images of Soviet people. L. Young, M.Rekk, Z. Leander, etc., (the movie stars who played in “trophy” films) became the icons of soviet fashion of the 40s.
In my report I would like to focus on the question concerning the influence of the “trophy” garments on the Soviet fashion.
In the Soviet Union of the 30-40s a harmonious ruddy working girl in a simple dress decorated just with a thin belt, in a beret and sharp-nosed shoes was the ideal of society. The “unifying” communistic ideology, the “closeness” of the country from the western influence and practical impossibility of acquaintance with the achievements of the European fashion caused the backlog of the Soviet fashion. Therefore, the garments of the Stalin USSR were ascetic, inexpressive and not various.
But after the World war the stream of trophies (furniture, clothes, toys, etc.) flooded the USSR. In Soviet Union all these subjects were dispersed in “commission shops”, temporary markets organized at railway stations.
These trophy garments were nice, naïve and practical. In premilitary Germany the folk style, Tyrolean and Bavarian (rare Spanish) tendencies were in fashion. As the “trophy garments” soviet women got hats with feathers, skirts of “chaste” length, and white “naive” blouses with short sleeves and sweaters with bright ornaments. This coquettish clothing was combined with jackets borrowing in male clothes.
Western garments were for Soviet people magnificent but strange. For example there was an accident when a wife of a Soviet colonel appeared in a night chemise at a reception in Kremlin. Soviet women didn’t believe that night chemises could be so splendid.
Under the influence of “trophy” garments, movies, fashionable journals and etc. The Soviet fashion became elegant, graceful, stylish and more bourgeois.
E-mail: c/o Jon.Stobart@northampton.ac.uk
Inventory research for early modern England between c.1600-1750 has highlighted the significance (and value) of bedding within the domestic economy, but as yet we know little about its maintenance and circulation, once purchased or inherited. Paradoxically, because bed-linens and other bed textiles held their market values despite use, they were both an attractive commodity for recirculation within the thriving second-hand sectors of urban and rural England; and objects in which owners invested themselves emotionally, creating the circumstances for their transformation into, and transmission as heirlooms. Bed-linens also constitute material which, given both these values (monetary and emotional), was the subject of careful maintenance and mending. This paper will therefore draw on primary research into sales of second-hand domestic goods in England before 1750 (and their advertising), as well as upon non-elite household accounts and other domestic records, to investigate consumers’ and owners’ strategies around the making, marketing and maintenance of bedclothes. Understanding the materiality of the early Georgian bed, before it becomes a physical and moral site of major concerns about hygiene and nocturnal disturbance in the later eighteenth century, is an understudied element in contemporary and historical discussions of comfort and convenience, and their roles in creating and sustaining domesticity.
In this article we examine the distribution of predominantly English and, to a minor degree Dutch, foreign-made textiles, imported through the port of Bilbao at the beginning of the 18th century in Spain. The source used in this study was a specific and special tax levied on cloth imported from countries with which Spain was at war. Through this tax it is possible to analyze and quantify the physical volume as well as the value, the destination and the systems of commercialization of textiles. More concretely, we were able to analyze:
- The importation of each type of cloth, together with its quantity and price, particularly the relationship between the type of textile and the income and tastes of specific social classes
The final geographic destination of the majority of imported textiles. Those destinations are examined as to the locations of cities, towns or fair; after being placed on a map we are able to obtain a visual representation of the demand for foreign cloth in Spain.
The commercialization system, distinguishing between commission sales and the peddler’s sales system.
Transport, fundamental in a country with major mountain ranges causing difficulty in the commercialization or products and increasing their prices. Our sources detail the volumes of cloth distributed by individuals and companies specialized in transport; transport as an activity which is complementary to other activities; the volume of cloth transported by peddlers. Moreover, this study allows us to introduce additional reliable data towards the hypothesis proposed by some authors as to whether or not these networks existed in Spain.
The fiscal sources demonstrate clearly the importance of the part they play in this current study, with the analysis of the consumption and distribution of products in general and cloth in particular. The relationships among the details of this tax sheds more light on a hotly debated topic with respect to transport and networks in modern Spain.
Branding, as applied to clothes and consumer goods, is often treated as a late 20th century phenomenon. But a close examination of the practices of 19th century clothing retailers shows that they were highly aware of the need to distinguish themselves, and their goods, from their competitors’. As early as the 1840s, the rival tailors Moses and Son, Hyams, and Josephs were issuing catalogues that were strikingly similar in general appearance, but carefully distinguished in text and images. Other tailors created a ‘brand identity’ through appeals to supposed fellow feeling with their customers, such as Doudney, who used slogans referring to political reform. From the 1870s retailers and manufacturers drew increasingly on images to create their brands, with innovative advertising campaigns. By 1900 branding was shifting from whole garments to accessories such as collars, cuffs, hair-pins and boot tips, low in value but replaced frequently. These small items were also suitable for marketing using new styles of displays and promotional material.
The value of this material in attracting sales can be deduced from the extent to which it was copyrighted, with hundreds of documents registered at Stationers’ Hall (now in The National Archives). However the Stationers’ Hall archive also reveals the common practice of ‘spurious branding’, with garments or sales documents designed and manufactured by mass enterprises and personalised for individual retailers. Around 1900 some manufacturers moved from anonymous production into direct retailing, creating their own brands; others balanced branded and unbranded production. By 1914 branded clothing operated on several levels, sold by retail chains owned by manufacturers (such as Hepworth’s) but also distributed through independent retailers.
This ‘pre-history’ of branding is still poorly understood, as many of the key innovators have not been fully studied. It can be illuminated through examination of representative documents from retailers, manufacturers and publicity agents held in the Stationers’ Hall and John Johnson archives. Surviving garments in museum collections will be used to examine the development of labelling, and the ways in which this was understood by consumers. This material will enable us to understand how brands have developed over more than 150 years.
In 1700, Tsar Peter the Great decreed that all members of his court, military, government administration, and urban residents must abandon their traditional forms of dress and wear European clothing. This one imperial order had a profound effect on Russian retail development. While the tsar and his family had an entire retinue of Kremlin tailors trained in the art of Western clothing design at their disposal, there were very few artisans or stores prepared to meet the demand for European fashions that the tsar’s decree created. How were Russians to find the clothes that the tsar demanded that they wear?
This paper will answer that question by analyzing the retailing of European clothing in Russia. Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, foreign and Russian entrepreneurs introduced modern retailing institutions and business practices to sell European clothing. These new forms of retailing grew up alongside traditional marketplaces and fairs. While these retail developments paralleled what was happening in other parts of Europe and the United States, what makes the Russian experience fascinating is how Russians thought and wrote about these developments. Rather than acknowledging the creation of a complex, retail system that included both traditional and modern forms of shopping, many Russian commentators saw two retailing cultures—Russian and Western—in conflict with one another. This paper will analyze how this Russian discourse on shopping played an important cultural and political role in Imperial Russia.
E-mail: c/o email@example.com
Textiles were, throughout the 19th century, one of the most massively imported goods in Madagascar. At a time when Madagascar was buying vast quantities of manufactured objects from Europe and India, such as weapons, hardware, and ceramics, cotton fabrics, sold in bales, constituted the numerically most important of imported wares in Malagasy ports. The importation of these textiles deeply influenced patterns of consumption and the styles of local weaving production. Several recent works have examined the diffusion of weaving and dressing styles in the Indian Ocean region (Fee 2009 ; Prestholdt 2009). However, still missing is a precise understanding of the specific pathways by which these imported textiles were carried through maritime trade to the western coast of Madagascar, and from there into the hinterland.
The western Indian Ocean, during the 19th century, was deeply marked by European economic and political expansion, at the same time as Zanzibari influence underwent a relative stagnation, then a decline. Yet, just when imports of European and American cotton goods were considerably increasing, imports of Indian textiles continued as well. This state of affairs requires explanation.
Accordingly, I propose in this paper to elucidate several points of the commercial history of the Mozambique Channel. First, I will specify how textile trading networks were articulated, and the evolution of this organization throughout the long 19th century, and into the early 20th. My main focus concerns the interactions between the key economic players involved in the regional trade, these being in equal importance Swahili and Gujarati traders as well as their Occidental counterparts --French, Americans and Germans -- settled on the West coast. There follows a discussion on the different kinds of textiles imported and their links to the different trading networks of importation. In conjunction, I relate the chronological rhythms of the importations of each kind of textile in connection with the geopolitical events that occurred in the western Indian Ocean.
As a way of illustration, I will trace the biography of a bale of cloth, from its arrival in a western Malagasy port to its clearing customs and passing through the hand of various brokers, merchants and agents, its division, repackaging, rebranding and distribution as it makes its way into Malagasy consumers' hands.
A central aim of this paper is to underscore the role of the 19th century as a crucial transformative period, an era of transition during which Madagascar entered into a sphere dominated by the Atlantic economic system. Nevertheless, we will see that behind this global configuration, some older patterns were retained, for example, the continuity of the connections between Madagascar and the production places of North-West India.
Cryséde produced hand-made, wood block printed silks from its factory in St. Ives, Cornwall in the 1920s and 1930s. The vibrant, playful prints were sold as fabric lengths or made up into dresses and other garments and sold by mail-order catalogue nationally and internationally, and in Cryséde’s network of branches that extended from St. Ives to Edinburgh at the height of its success. Established by Alec Walker in 1920, at a time when the British textile industry was threatened by cheap imports and high taxes, Cryséde benefited from innovative management and the entrepreneurial spirit of Walker and his partner Tom Heron, successfully producing cloth wholly within the UK and taking advantage of an economic climate that gave their female middle-class market greater spending power. Inspired to create his own textile designs by Raoul Dufy on a visit to Paris in 1923, Walker aimed at bringing the glamour of French fashion to the British high street. Walker’s approach to retailing blends tradition and modernity to reflect the playful conservative modern aesthetic that appealed broadly to the middle class and middle-brow in the popular culture of the inter-war years. Self-consciously modern in his retailing strategy, Walker was innovative not only in his textile designs and stocking of new products such as beach pyjamas and sportswear, but also in his engagement of modern designers such as E. McKnight Kauffer to create Cryséde’s adverts and packaging and Wells Coates to design sleekly modern shop interiors.
This paper attempts to construct a discourse examining how Cryséde uses the interplay between craft, fashion and art to create a uniquely successful brand. If craft creates a ‘third space’ between fine art and design, with all spaces separate and opposing the commercial or mass-produced, Walker’s textiles fall into an undefined void somewhere in between. An interstitial space, traversing and transgressing the borders of definition, Cryséde simultaneously occupied contradictory positions; large scale craft production; hand-made yet flawless; industrial knowledge into traditional production methods; commercial with a painterly exclusivity. This is discussed in relation to the emergence of the use of artist’s names in the branding of products, the self-conscious marketing of Cryséde as an exclusive craft product, the changes in retail design and strategy and the use of exhibitions as advertising.
Much has been written in recent years about the changing material culture of textiles in late seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain, especially the rise of cotton textiles from India and their impact on domestic supply and demand. Much less has been written about the processes by which consumers acquired these ‘exotic’ fabrics – or, indeed, other ‘more traditional’ types of cloth. We lack detailed information about even some fairly basic questions such as: who sold the newly fashionable calicoes; to what extent were they integrated within existing forms of textile retailing, and how did their supply vary across space and time, not least in response to bans and increases in excise? In this paper, I want to draw on detailed analysis of the probate inventories of provincial shopkeepers to begin answering some of these questions. But I want to go further and consider the ways in which shopkeepers sought to market these wares through the printed media. Here, I am particularly interested in the position and role of printed calicoes, etc. in the promotional strategies of retailers and the ways in which provenance was (or was not) used as a selling point. Building on this, I seek to analyse the nature of these advertisements as instruments of marketing: to what extent did they promote certain cultural values (e.g. politeness) or social-commercial imperatives, most especially fashion.
E-mail: c/o Jon.Stobart@northampton.ac.uk
My paper aims to discuss aspects of retailing second-hand clothing during the eighteenth century in urban areas. It will focus on textiles of everyday use leaving aside higher market segments and will be primarily based on research on the towns of Salzburg and Vienna, but shall also discuss findings from other Central European cities. Different outlets for second-hand clothing, both formal and informal – ranging from specialized markets to itinerant sellers – shall be considered as well as the interdependency between ‘new’ and ‘old’ and the relevance of second-hand textiles within a plebeian ‘economy of makeshifts’. Furthermore the contemporary perceptions regarding transactions and traders of used clothing shall be discussed.
Queen Alexandra (1844-1925) was one of the British Empire’s style icons. Her choices in dress were widely reported in the contemporary press from her marriage to Edward, Prince of Wales in 1863 until her husband’s death in 1910. Her ability to make accurate sartorial assessments for any occasion earned her a reputation as one of Britain’s best dressed women.
Key to her success was her choice of suppliers, her relationship with retailers, dressmakers and her own wardrobe department. This paper will explore in detail Alexandra’s methods of acquisition of textiles and dress. After a general introduction putting the subject into the context of my research, I will focus on the broad range of her suppliers evidenced in surviving wardrobe accounts. I will analyse the content of these accounts in the context of royal supply and how it differed from more conventional modes of purchasing items of textiles and dress.
I will examine Alxandra’s patronage of non-industrialised textiles: her purchase of items from charitable foundations and localised craft suppliers is well represented in the accounts ledgers and represents an alternate route of acquisition for a woman in her position of privilege.
The paper will consider the issue of secret supply. Alexandra recognised from an early date that her style was much copied and so I will examine some of the methods she employed in order to outwit the group she called ‘The London Ladies’ and ensure that her garments, particularly for large public occasions, were suitably grand whilst discreetly manufactured.
Finally, the proposed paper will analyse the value of royal patronage for the supplier. The prestige of the Royal Warrant as a marketable insignia for retailers in the second half of the 19th century is a crucial element in the flow of royal supply and demand. The conditions of Royal Appointment and the application of a ‘royal’ name to commodities forms a fascinating addition to the story of Queen Alexandra’s sartorial life.
Purchase, gift, theft and resale: the mechanisms of clothing acquisition are more or less familiar. These formal and informal networks of distribution ensured the passage of garments and textiles from production to disintegration, via multiple layers of reuse and changing ownership. However, there remains one common strategy for acquiring apparel and fabric that, having left so little trace in the historical record, is all but invisible. This is acquisition by proxy: the quite ordinary request that someone else obtain specified goods on another individual’s behalf.
The geographical mobility of friends, neighbours, family members and agents were all routinely exploited in this way. One person’s journey to a commercial centre became an opportunity by which many could benefit. Generally the only remaining sign of this busy commerce is in letters and private accounts. For example, we know that in the last years of Elizabeth’s reign the London-based Philip Gawdy regularly bought fabric and garments on behalf of his family back in Norfolk. Damask, satin, gloves, hats, sleeves, silver buttons, gold thread, shoes, a farthingale, and large amounts of fashionable advice and observation were among the items sent home in response to specific commissions from his mother, brother, father and sister-in-law.
This mechanism of distribution involved several distinct stages and a particular range of competencies. First the desired item and its eventual use was described in enough detail so that both parties understood and agreed the terms of the commission. This initial transaction and the language in which it was couched can tell us a lot. It is an indication of contemporary perceptions, signalling how and in what way various garments and fabrics were desirable.
Second, the individual making the request had to trust their proxy – their honesty of course, but also their aesthetic and practical judgement. For instance, could they tell a bargain from an extravagance, or weigh up the differing merits of a range of textiles? Could they judge fashionability, or assess how fabric would look when made up into a garment? Third, both parties therefore had to be knowledgeable about apparel and its fabrics: which garments might be more suitable, more fashionable, more flattering? Which material would wear better, look best, be most pleasing? And fourth, these competencies were displayed by both men and women. Indeed, men’s greater geographical mobility meant that they were the ones most often employed as proxies, acquiring personal items on behalf of both male and female contacts alike. This, of course, runs counter to the enduring inscription of fashion as feminised, and clothing and fabrics as being solely a woman’s domain.
Philip Gawdy’s letters represent an early example of a phenomenon that persisted for hundreds of years. It was only with the development of efficient systems of transport and communications in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and the concomitant rise of advertising and distance sales, that this hitherto vital network of distribution withered and all but died. With railways and a cheap postal system, illustrated advertisements and eventually catalogues, those with a limited geographical reach were able to shop from home. These consumers – principally, but not exclusively, women – could now enter into transactions directly with the retailer, leaving the proxy as a mere historic relic.
In the last third of the 19th century we can observe quite an interesting development in the European theatre: the role of the actresses, especially of the more famous ones, in the European metropolises changes: Actresses do not only appear on stage as artists but also as fashion models. By continuously wearing more elegant and extravagant costumes their appearances on stage become more and more like a kind of fashion show which in the beginning seem to be appreciated and soon be demanded by the (especially female part of the) audiences.
Thus, for example in Paris, popular actresses like Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), Gabrielle Réju (1858-1920), and Jane Hading (1859-1940) engaged in co-operations with famous Parisian designers like Charles Frederick Worth (1826–1895) or Jacques Doucet (1853-1929). The actresses pledged themselves to exclusively wear the costumes that one special designer made for them. As it is often mentioned in secondary literature, for the designers the stage became a catwalk before the catwalk as such was invented and established and the actresses – oftentimes considered as role models for an elegant and exclusive style –,became their mannequins. Therefore they functioned as perfect advertisement for the designers. In Berlin, the actress Jenny Groß tried to imitate this strategy as well as the Parisian fashion by travelling to Paris and buying her stage costumes there. Photographs and drawings of actresses were used in fashion and women’s magazines all over Europe to present the latest fashion trends to the readers.
Those strategies of establishing fashion on stage are of special interest for theatre history as well as for the development of fashion. By giving some examples I would like to show in my paper to what extent the European actresses became protagonists in the development of fashion in the late 19th century – a part of cultural history which still seems to be underestimated today.
Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester was the chief favourite of Queen Elizabeth 1 for the first thirty years of her reign. Available evidence suggests Leicester dressed for his role at court, and to please the Queen. In order to maintain a suitable wardrobe a wide range of people were engaged to ensure Leicester was fittingly attired. These people were key to the image Leicester chose to present and as a result he was seen as a leader in English male court fashion. In addition to his personal investment in his appearance his wardrobe was supplemented by gifts – both new and second hand – and the spoils of war.
This paper will examine the evidence in Leicester’s accounts and inventories for those responsible for the production of his wardrobe. Using the names of artificers listed in the accounts the wider networks of supply will be explored. Contemporary images of Leicester will be surveyed to supplement the written material and to illustrate the high quality of the workmanship necessary. While the only know extant piece of Leicester’s ‘dress’ is a suit of armour this also serves as an exemplar or those who produced it and is the embodiment Leicester’s position. Through the drawing together of the available evidence the importance of the consistently high quality of craftsmanship to maintaining Leicester’s wardrobe to the high standard of a Queen’s consort will be discussed.
On 15 October 1948 Natasha Kroll (1914 - 2004) set off on a journey from London to Los Angeles, that would over subsequent weeks take in San Francisco, Dallas, Washington and New York. The Stateside trip was undertaken to further her knowledge and thinking around display techniques and spatial design in a retail context. Trained at the Reimann School in Berlin, and a member of its London teaching staff from 1936, Kroll had been appointed display manager at the iconic Simpson (Piccadilly) Ltd store in 1942. The visit was therefore the enterprise of a mature and respected practitioner in her field. The notebooks containing Kroll’s diarised observations on the trip are held with her papers at the University of Brighton Design Archives.
This paper will consider the lure of America to a woman display designer in Britain, in the years immediately following the Second World War. It seeks to contribute to a relatively under-researched area of business, material and consumer culture studies: the training and practice of those responsible for creating and perpetually re-presenting the retail environments within which many of the performative aspects of shopping activity then typically took place.
The notebooks will be considered as the practical results of an endeavour to record professionally valuable information, but also with a sensitivity to the construction of personal narrative. They will be regarded in the light of current interest in the historiography of consumer behaviours; cultural geography; and contemporaneous studies of shopping. Kroll’s visit and her findings will be framed by reference to prevailing industry standards; training norms; and existing texts. Kroll published her own contribution, Window Display (Studio, London) in 1954.
It is well known that some Japan’s women dressed in Western clothes appeared in a downtown area, from 1910s to 1920s (Slade, 2009). People at that time called them Moga (shortened form of modern girl), looking at their new styles with a mix of wonder and envy. Historians paid attention to Moga as a symbol of the westernization, or modernization (Maruyama, 2008). Most women at that time, however, wore Japanese dress Kimono (Francks, 2009). Thus Moga were in a minority, actually. As hard as it is to believe, despite having stressed the historical significance of Moga, both domestic and international historians have not paid attention to the traditional kimono in interwar period. To infill the space I will introduce the women’s Kimono fashion in 1910s and 1920s and show the new Japan's modernization process.
First, I will introduce what kind of Kimono was most consumed in those days by analyzing the statistical changes of Kimono’s production volume. Japanese consumers could choose several kinds of Kimonos. They could enjoy designs and/or wearability depending on cotton yarn or silk yarn and so on. In this surrounding, women welcomed one common silk textile Meisen, especially.
Second, I will introduce how women used Meisen by picking up articles on woman's magazines and newspapers. Meisen had been a farmer’s clothes in 19th century. Women in early 20th century, however, wore it as a fashionable cloth. For example, high school female students wore Meisen as a uniform and young working woman wore it as a stylish garment. During the 1910s and 1920s Meisen developed a reputation for smart fashion.
Finally, I give the idea why women changed their attitude toward Meisen. I focus on the social interactions among school girls, women’s magazines, a middle merchant and department stores. In particular, department stores and a middle merchant played an important role to change their attitude by diffusing fashion information from consumers to industrial districts. They created new styles: Meisen with European designs. Women accepted the styles with surprise. No less important is the fact women’s magazines which just published were useful to diffuse fashion information and school girls who wore Meisen became walking billboard.
For all of these reasons, I will show the new historical perspectives on Japanese modernization in interwar period. Japanese women enjoyed European fashion without changing the traditional costume Kimono. The Japanese middle merchant and department stores created new business systems to diffuse the new styles. This new findings will enhance historian’s knowledge about Japanese modernization and fashion diffusion processes.
Within the dowry, marriage trousseau never missed when a new household was founded. As well know, the marriage trousseau was a set of goods that the bride brought with herself in the house of the groom. The dowry was usually constituted of a notary’s act signed by the bride, the groom, and their parents or relatives at the time around the marriage ceremony. Moreover, in the same notary act every piece of the trousseau was described and valued with the agreement of the couple.
Trousseau was compounded by several pieces, different by function, quality and value, (clothes, linens, jewels and little pieces of furniture) and frequently was the product of work of the bride herself. Anyway, textile goods played the most important role. Firstly, in the trousseau, there was a great variety of dresses and textile goods for use of the bride : dresses, skirts, blouses, shawls, foulards, and some personal lingeries as socks, dressing gowns, gloves and bonnets. Secondly, linens were also important : towels, sheets, tablecloths, napkins and blankets.
Many studies dedicated to the dowry (Klapish-Zuber 19902; Schneider 1984; Fine 1984) pointed out that the trousseau had not only a material value but moreover a strong symbolic meaning. As consequence, its pieces were kept as a treasure in the wardrobes and trunks ; none could touch at them or sell them. Nevertheless, recent researches nuanced this interpretation and explained that textile goods (as well as jewels) of the trousseau were sold or, more frequently pawned at the pawnbroker's shop by the family in the case of necessity (Fazio 1992; Allegra 2003).
However, for preindustrial urban society, discussions still remains ambiguous; more interconnections among household economy, use of the trousseau and relations between husband and wife should be explored. In middle and low classes, the goods of the trousseau played an essential role in domestic economy. By the mean of these goods couples could obtain cash to buy food or to pay house rent or others necessities. In turn, my paper will focus on the role of textile goods in these credit networks. Taking in account some different sources like notarial deeds (constitutions of dowries and wills) and some registers of the «banchi feneratizi» (the jewish pawnshops) of the city of Turin during the 18th century, my paper will explain how and why tissues, clothes, and linens were genuine resources in the household economy and during the whole family life-cycle.
Finally my paper will discuss if the use of these goods could change the quality of relations between wife and husband. Indeed, at the contrary of the dowry, the pieces of the trousseau were personal property of the wife and she could use them as she wanted and needed. In turn, we could ask if her direct contribution in the household economy modified the quality of relations and the balance of power in the couples of Ancien Régime societies.