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Throughout history dress and fashion has always responded in complex ways to the shifting social, economic and political landscape surrounding it, simultaneously representing and creating the identity of the wearer. Arguably one of the most important signifiers of class, clothing is able both to describe social status as well as play a part in developing class identities.
Focusing on examples in British history from the 18th century to the present day, whilst drawing on references to Europe and the USA, this volume examines the meaning and evolution of the term 'class' from its origins as an essentially Marxist definition through to modern interpretations. In what ways do changing notions of class correspond with key developments in the history of fashion? Did industrialization and technological change bring about a degree of 'class levelling' within fashion, or did it in fact intensify class antagonism? And to what extent does modern mass consumption and cheap labor revive many of the ethical issues faced in nineteenth-century factories?
Exploring a variety of case studies, from the revolutionaries of the 1700s through to the changing relationships between couture, designer fashion and social status in the mid-late 20th century and onwards,Fashion and Class is essential reading for those wishing to understand the ways in which the fashion system is tightly connected with ideas of class.