Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers

Overview

"Producing Fashion demonstrates the importance of studying fashion, very broadly defined, from the perspective of business history. Case studies from several countries and from various periods during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries show how 'fashion intermediaries' in the business world developed new products and styles that resonated with consumers. Combining historical methods with models from cultural studies and other social science disciplines, these studies provide new insights into the environments ...
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Overview

"Producing Fashion demonstrates the importance of studying fashion, very broadly defined, from the perspective of business history. Case studies from several countries and from various periods during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries show how 'fashion intermediaries' in the business world developed new products and styles that resonated with consumers. Combining historical methods with models from cultural studies and other social science disciplines, these studies provide new insights into the environments that facilitated product innovation, the dissemination of ideas in the marketplace, and factors leading to cooperation or resistance on the part of consumers."--Diana Crane, University of Pennsylvania

"At last, a collection of essays that considers fashion as both a commercial and a cultural phenomenon. Informed by recent approaches in the fields of business history, material culture studies, and the history of design, Producing Fashion offers a stimulating series of case studies that range from fashion magazines in Tzarist Russia to questions of taste in the contemporary American home. Anyone who has ever considered how and why fashionable trends emerge will find something of interest in its pages."--Christopher Breward, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

How has Paris, the world's fashion capital, influenced Milan, New York, and Tokyo? When did the Marlboro Man become a symbol of American masculinity? Why do Americans love to dress down in high-tech Lycra fabrics, while they wax nostalgic for quaint, old-fashioned Victorian cottages?

Fashion icons and failures have long captivated the general public, but few scholars have examined the historical role of business and commerce in creating the international market for style goods. Producing Fashion is a groundbreaking collection of original essays that shows how economic institutions in Europe and North America laid the foundation for the global fashion system and sustained it commercially through the mechanisms of advertising, licensing, marketing, publishing, and retailing.

The collection reveals how public and private institutions--from government censors in imperial Russia to large corporations in the United States--worked to shape fashion, style, and taste with varying degrees of success. Fourteen contributors draw on original research and fresh insight into the producers of fashion--advertising agents, architects, corporate executives, department stores, designers, editors, government officials, hairdressers, haute couturiers, and Web retailers--in their bid for influence, acclaim, and shoppers' dollars.

Producing Fashion looks to the past, revealing the rationale behind style choices, while explaining how the interplay of custom, invented traditions, and sales imperatives continue to drive innovation in the fashion industries.

Regina Lee Blaszczyk is a visiting scholar in the Department of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include the award-winning Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedgwood to Corning and Major Problems in American Business History: Documents and Essays.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Producing Fashion takes readers on an international journey that acknowledges the preeminence of Paris haute couture but also includes stops in Russia, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, and the United States. The case studies, based on new original research, demonstrate the interplay between business enterprise and fashion."—Journal of American History

"Producing Fashion demonstrates the importance of studying fashion, very broadly defined, from the perspective of business history. Case studies from several countries and from various periods during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries show how 'fashion intermediaries' in the business world developed new products and styles that resonated with consumers. Combining historical methods with models from cultural studies and other social science disciplines, these studies provide new insights into the environments that facilitated product innovation, the dissemination of ideas in the marketplace, and factors leading to cooperation or resistance on the part of consumers."—Diana Crane, University of Pennsylvania

"At last, a collection of essays that considers fashion as both a commercial and a cultural phenomenon. Informed by recent approaches in the fields of business history, material culture studies, and the history of design, Producing Fashion offers a stimulating series of case studies that range from fashion magazines in Tzarist Russia to questions of taste in the contemporary American home. Anyone who has ever considered how and why fashionable trends emerge will find something of interest in its pages."—Christopher Breward, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Regina Lee Blaszczyk is Professor of Business History and Leadership Chair in the History of Business and Society at the University of Leeds. Her books include the award-winning Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedgwood to Corning and Major Problems in American Business History: Documents and Essays.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Rethinking Fashion
—Regina Lee Blaszczyk

PART I. ORGANIZING THE FASHION TRADES
Chapter 2. Spreading the Word: The Development of the Russian Fashion Press
—Christine Ruane
Chapter 3. Accessorizing, Italian Style: Creating a Market for Milan's Fashion Merchandise
—Elisabetta Merlo, Francesca Polese
Chapter 4. In the Shadow of Paris? French Haute Couture and Belgian Fashion Between the Wars
—Véronique Pouillard
Chapter 5. Licensing Practices at Maison Christian Dior
—Tomoko Okawa

PART II. INVENTING FASHIONS, PROMOTING STYLES
Chapter 6. The Wiener Werkstätte and the Reform Impulse
—Heather Hess
Chapter 7. American Fashions for American Women: The Rise and Fall of Fashion Nationalism
—Marlis Schweitzer
Chapter 8. Coiffing Vanity: Advertising Celluloid Toilet Sets in 1920s America
—Ariel Beaujot

PART III. SHAPING BODIES, BUILDING BRANDS
Chapter 9. California Casual: Lifestyle Marketing and Men's Leisurewear, 1930-1960
—William R. Scott
Chapter 10. Marlboro Men: Outsider Masculinities and Commercial Modeling in Postwar America
—Elspeth H. Brown
Chapter 11. The Body and the Brand: How Lycra Shaped America
—Kaori O'Connor

PART IV. CUSTOMER REACTIONS, CONSUMER ADAPTATIONS
Chapter 12. French Hairstyles and the Elusive Consumer
—Steve Zdatny
Chapter 13. Ripping Up the Uniform Approach: Hungarian Women Piece Together a New Communist Fashion
—Katalin Medvedev
Chapter 14. Why the Old-Fashioned Is in Fashion in American Houses
—Susan J. Matt

Notes
List of Contributors
Index
Acknowledgments

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