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Location, London: Promoting British ready-to-wear 1959–66

Tregenza, Liz (2022) Location, London: Promoting British ready-to-wear 1959–66. In: Disseminating Dress: Britain’s Fashion Networks, 1600–1970. Bloomsbury, pp. 165-188. ISBN 978-1350181021

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Tregenza, Liz

In 1958 a new collaborative group of British ready-to-wear fashion houses was formed; The Fashion House Group (FHG). This group brought together the leading ready-to-wear manufacturers of the time with a focus on high quality, high style garments at all price levels. The FHG are an example of a horizontally co-operative fashion group, as Shinobu Majima suggests, ‘competitors often build horizontal relationships in order to share information and advance social exchanges.’ Indeed, horizontal co-operation was key to many of the FHG’s promotional strategies that will be discussed within this chapter.

The FHG were an export minded group, seeking to increase sales and disseminate British ready-to-wear fashion internationally. The 1950s were a key period in the increasing globalisation of the fashion industry, thanks in part to cheaper and faster air travel which allowed quick dispatch of garments and easier international trips for manufacturers and buyers alike. Despite the international focus of the group, London was central to the FHG’s promotional strategies and the majority of members’ brand identities, with all firms’ headquarters in the heart of London’s West End. The city featured prominently in group members’ advertisements and the majority had ‘London’ on their labels too, recognising the symbolic value of the London label internationally. As founder member Frederick Starke suggested, there was a ‘snob appeal’ connected with the London label - seen as an exclusive luxury product overseas. This was particularly true for the desirable American market who wanted to ‘buy something which is not to be found in every shop in the high street.’

This chapter investigates the activities of this pioneering group, focusing on how the FHG disseminated their designs internationally; to the fashion press, store buyers, and to a lesser extent, the general public. It begins by considering the group’s bi-annual ‘London Fashion Week’ (LFW) established in 1959 and the publicity it received, demonstrating the innovative dissemination methods used by the Group. It then goes on to consider how the trade journal The Ambassador promoted the FHG and how this suggests fashion professionals would have consumed their designs. Finally, it considers how the FHG promoted their designs to the general public via cinematic newsreels. These newsreels featured highlights from the LFW shows, or specially staged ‘catwalk’ presentations featuring the member firms’ latest designs. Overall it questions what narrative the FHG were trying to create with their promotional material, and how London was interwoven into this narrative.

Official Website: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/disseminating-dress-9781350181021/
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Bloomsbury
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 16 June 2022
Digital Object Identifier: 10.5040/9781350181007.ch-008
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2022 10:53
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2023 10:36
Item ID: 18876
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/18876

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