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The Impact of the Purchasing Power of Young, Employed, Modern Working-class Women on the Design, Mass Manufacture and Consumption of Fashionable Lightweight Day Dresses, 1930-1939

Roberts, Cheryl (2019) The Impact of the Purchasing Power of Young, Employed, Modern Working-class Women on the Design, Mass Manufacture and Consumption of Fashionable Lightweight Day Dresses, 1930-1939. PhD thesis, University of Brighton.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Roberts, Cheryl

My thesis captures a significant and largely untold history of the demand for cheap, fashionable clothing for young working-class women. The term “agents of change” is of deep significance to this study that argues and proves that the close analysis of the consumption choices and the wearing of lightweight day dresses of this specific social group also became a significant reflection of major cultural and technological developments in mass modernity and social change in England in the 1930s.

Central to my research is an interdisciplinary, material culture analysis that investigates the design, manufacture, retailing and consumption of fashion for and by young working-class women in Britain the 1930s. My investigation concentrates on new mass developments in the design and manufacture of lightweight day dresses styled for younger women and its retailing in the second-hand and seconds trades, street markets, new multiple stores, department stores, independent dress shops and home dressmaking as well as discussing the specific impact of this new product within the emerging mass manufactured goods mail order catalogue industry in England. In addition, these outlets of consumption are analysed in the context of old and new businesses practices.

The actuality of the garments worn by young working-class women in England during the 1930s is paramount to the research and are at the forefront of all findings and developed discussions. The mass manufacture of lightweight ready-made day dresses 1930-1939 is therefore the focus, although other integral clothing items in the wardrobe of the young working-class woman are briefly considered to build a clear picture of what clothing was available and what she could afford. The complex issue of garment fashionability, as seen through in the eyes of this young woman consumer is key to pulling together a wide range of disparate primary sources: oral testimony, photography, business archives, press reports, fashion periodicals and analysis of surviving garments in museum collections. This study proves for the first time that examination of the dress habits of young working-class women in Britain in the 1930s opens up an unexplored but significant material culture research field. My thesis clarifies the central role of these young female consumers and their fashion demands as a key trigger for the major industrial development of a new product: fashionable, lightweight clothing in Britain and its mass consumption.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 19 May 2019
Related Publications: Consuming Mass Fashion in 1930s England: Design, Manufacture and Retailing for Young Working-Class Women, Synergy and Dissonance of the Senses: Negotiating Fashion Through Second-hand Dealing, Jumble Sales and Street Market Trading in 1930s East End London
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2023 10:10
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 10:10
Item ID: 20647
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/20647

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