East and west: textiles and fashion in Eurasia in the early modern period

East and west: textiles and fashion in Eurasia in the early modern period

By Beverly Lemire and Giorgio Riello

Journal of Social History, Vol.41:4 (2008)

Introduction: Fashion underpinned the commercial growth and cultural transformation of western society. From at least the sixteenth century, fashion’s demotic stimuli unleashed desires across European social ranks. Never just a folly, fashion was integral to the expression of consumer preference, the structuring of markets and the reordering of society. Its development and articulation regularized and routinized consumer expenditure, practices critical to the advance of western economies. Thus, economic and cultural realms converge. Yet there are many elements of the rise and early articulation of fashion in the West that have not been fully explored. Many of the current theorists hold very narrow views, little recognizing the fundamental influences Asia exerted on Europe over many centuries. Global history has begun to challenge narrowly national or regional articulations of history, noting the critical connections that ebbed and flowed across continents and oceans. These ties are described by John and William McNeill as a web or “a set of connections that link people to one another.” The McNeills further contend that, “In all such relationships, people communicate information and use that information to guide their future behavior. They also communicate, or transfer, useful technology, goods, crops, ideas, and much else.”

Click here to read this article from the University of Warwick

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