As Seen in Vogue: A Century of American Fashion in Advertising

As Seen in Vogue: A Century of American Fashion in Advertising

As Seen in Vogue: A Century of American Fashion in Advertising

As Seen in Vogue: A Century of American Fashion in Advertising

Synopsis

This lavishly illustrated chronicle of American women's fashions examines relationships between the mass-market ready-to-wear industry, fashion journalism, and fashion advertising. Throughout the twentieth century, these industries fueled one another's successes by identifying an ever-widening consumer class and fanning the desire to be fashionable. Daniel Hill employs a wealth of primary source material to document not only this symbiosis but also an evolution in American fashion, society, and culture, as evidenced by more than six hundred fashion ads that appeared in Vogue from the magazine's debut in 1893 through the next ten decades. These American vignettes document more than the looks and fashions of their eras; they reveal dramatic transformations in women's roles and self-image- witness the metamorphosis from alabaster Victorian homemaker to painted flapper in just a generation, from conformist fifties mom to miniskirt-clad iconoclast only a decade later. In this comprehensive study, Hill offers a fathomless trove for fashion historians and pop-culturists, an invaluable resource for students and professionals in advertising, marketing, and business history, and a niche perspective on cultural influences for women's studies.

Excerpt

In the late nineteenth century, a symbiotic, tripartite relationship between clothing mass production, fashion journalism, and mass-media advertising became firmly established. Each fueled the success of the other as the three intertwined industries evolved and grew during the second industrial revolution of the 1880s and 1890s. New manufacturing technologies and distribution channels broadened the categories of apparel that could be mass produced. Timely fashion reports in the mass media spread the gospel of trends and generated a widespread awareness of style. Advertising served a triple role by inculcating consumers with a desire for fashion and modernity, by promoting product availability to audiences coast to coast, by serving as supporting style guides for what to wear and how. Fashion catalogs, for instance, were mailed to mansions in New York and San Francisco and to the most isolated prairie farmstead and the most remote cabin in the Appalachian Mountains. The wide array of fashion options produced by ready-to-wear makers season after season, coupled with the seductive images and compelling copywriting in fashion journalism and advertising, manipulated an everwidening socioeconomic segment of consumers into aspirational behavior. Increasingly, people wanted more than just basic clothing, they wanted fashion.

The significant availability and broad assortment of inexpensive ready-to-wear in the late nineteenth century are evident to anyone who flips through the mammoth “wishbooks” of the period, particularly those from Sears, Roebuck, and Company or Montgomery Ward. By the close of the nineteenth century, most every imaginable category of apparel was mass produced in affordable price ranges, and could be shipped easily and quickly to virtually every home in America. As fashion styles changed more frequently—from the biennial shows of the 1880s to the quarterly seasonal collections of the 1890s—ready-to-wear manufacturers developed ever more efficient turnaround cycles and mass produced the latest styles in short order. Editorials in mass-circulation periodicals eagerly reported on these latest styles. Retailers in turn kept the American consumer desiring the new fashion looks with illustrated catalog supplements and a barrage of magazine and newspaper advertising.

The arrangement of the categories in this study is segmented somewhat like a ready-to-wear catalog or a depart-

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