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

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  • Lemire, Beverly
  • Riello, Giorgio

Abstract

What is the origin and essence of fashion? This question has engaged scholars of various disciplines over the past decades, most of whom approach this subject with a Western or European focus. This paper argues instead that Asia was also pivotal in the articulation of the fashion system in Europe. The long interaction between these regions of the world initiated profound changes that included the iteration of the early modern fashion system. Silk and later printed cotton textiles are uniquely important in world history as agents of new consumer tastes, and the embodiment of fashion in Europe. Particular attention is given to the process of the Europeanization of Asian textiles, and the consideration of the intellectual, commercial and aesthetic relationship between Europe and Asia, as the European printed industry developed. Fashion was not just created through the adoption and use of Asian goods, but it was also shaped by a culture in which print was central; and it was the printing of information – visual, as well as literate – along with printing as a productive process, which produced a type of fashionability that could be ‘read’.

Suggested Citation

  • Lemire, Beverly & Riello, Giorgio, 2006. "East and West: textiles and fashion in Eurasia in the early modern period," Economic History Working Papers 22468, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22468
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22468/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • L6 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925

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