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Fashion is a gigantic global industry, generating some three hundred billion dollars in revenue every year, and playing a significant role in the economic, political, cultural and social lives of a vast international audience. Despite this, and perhaps in part because of its prevalence in the media, it is often denigrated as trivial and superficial, as a sign of vanity and narcissism. Written by a highly regarded authority on twentieth-century fashion, this Very Short Introduction offer a wide-ranging and ...
Fashion is a gigantic global industry, generating some three hundred billion dollars in revenue every year, and playing a significant role in the economic, political, cultural and social lives of a vast international audience. Despite this, and perhaps in part because of its prevalence in the media, it is often denigrated as trivial and superficial, as a sign of vanity and narcissism. Written by a highly regarded authority on twentieth-century fashion, this Very Short Introduction offer a wide-ranging and revealing look at fashion that discusses everything from production and design, to couture and retailing, to the wider role of fashion in society. This lively book illuminates the structure of the fashion industry and the range of professionals involved in its creation, and it provides cogent insight into its historical, social and cultural contexts. It also sheds light on how fashion has developed, while raising questions about its ethical and controversial aspects, such as the use of fur, exploitative trading, and poor working conditions for laborers.
List of illustrations
1 Designers 8
2 Art 29
3 Industry 48
4 Shopping 67
5 Ethics 85
6 Globalization 105
Further reading 135
Posted June 29, 2011
Fashion is an inevitable part of our daily lives, whether we recognize it as such or not. This book, however, deals with a very specific form of fashion, and that is the wardrobe fashion. In particular, with the wardrobe fashion in the West over the last few centuries. Fashion is very closely associated with art, and as such it is not possible to write about it in an exact and entirely objective way. However, it is possible to be systematic about it and remove as much of a subjective taste judgments as possible. In that regard, this book succeeds admirably. Oftentimes accounts of fashion are written in an overinflated flowery language that manages to confuse more than enlighten, but this short introduction eschews all such diffusive narrative and presents its subject in a very matter of fact and accessible style. It focuses on the historic development of the fashion industry, its sources of inspiration and the symbiotic existence that it has with the wider popular culture. Chapter on ethical aspects of fashion examines the negative practices that have been garnering a lot of spotlight recently - the use of fur, the harsh working conditions of many garment workers, and the promotion of stereotypes in advertising. It also talks about the ethical issues that were more prominent in the past, but which still reverberate, such as modesty, and gender and identity aspects of fashion. However, to author's credit, the book does not dwell on any of these issues extensively. In my opinion they have been getting an inordinate amount of traction in the media as it is.
Even, as mentioned earlier, the book deals primarily with Western fashion, the increasing globalization and the interconnectedness of the world means that many non-Westerners are having an increasing impact on the fashion industry. Consequently the book spends a whole chapter on globalization.
Overall, this is a fairly interesting overview of fashion, its history and major trends. Reading it may not make you into a stylish person, but it will is bound to inform and educate.
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