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UAL Research Online

From pre-modern fashion systems to value illusion today – on fashion and global inequality

Almila, Anna-Mari (2015) From pre-modern fashion systems to value illusion today – on fashion and global inequality. In: 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association. Differences, Inequalities and Sociological Imagination., 25-28 August 2015, Prague, Czech Republic.

Type of Research: Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item
Creators: Almila, Anna-Mari

A widely shared belief among sociologists of fashion is that fashion is, if not strictly ‘Western’, then at least ‘modern’. Yet many fashion historians place the ‘beginning’ of fashion in Europe in the mid-14th century, and some suggest that there were far earlier fashion systems in other urban locations. The idea of fashion as essentially modern, and the failure to recognise pre-modern fashion phenomena, leads to various serious problems. Sociology generally fails to recognise that what we consider modern European fashion has its roots in periods when Europe was not a hegemonic power in the global exchange of goods, ideas and styles, but rather a peripheral location compared to China and the Arab world. Fashion as a set of phenomena is not exclusively modern, and fashion systems are historically and geographically located. Today’s fashion systems are global in scope, particularly in terms of production and marketing. While the symbolic ‘value’ of fashion is produced in the ‘West’, garments are (cheaply) produced everywhere. This geographical inequality encourages scholars to think of fashion as primarily ‘Western’. A more inclusive and satisfactory understanding of fashion is necessary, and can be achieved by recognising two issues. First, there is nothing about fashion that makes it particularly typical of any one historical period or geographic location, including Western modernity. Second, the role of all kinds of labour involved in producing fashion must be recognised. Acceptance of these ideas will lead to better, more comprehensive, less Eurocentric and presentist analyses of the social roles of fashion.

Official Website: http://esa12thconference.eu/
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: globalization of fashion, pre-modern fashion
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 27 August 2015
Event Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2015 13:56
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2015 13:56
Item ID: 8584
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/8584

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