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  • Cited by 4
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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Fontana, Giovanni Luigi and Miranda, José Antonio 2016. The business of fashion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Investigaciones de Historia Económica - Economic History Research, Vol. 12, Issue. 2, p. 68.

    Silberstein, Rachel 2016. Cloud Collars and Sleeve Bands: Commercial Embroidery and the Fashionable Accessory in Mid-to-Late Qing China. Fashion Theory, p. 1.

    2013. Escaping poverty.

    Lemire, Beverly 2012. The Historical Consumer.


Was fashion a European invention?*

  • Carlo Marco Belfanti (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 November 2008

Fashion was arguably a social phenomenon that emerged in Europe during early modern times, and this paper seeks to determine whether it was unknown in the refined civilizations of the East. The conclusion is that fashion was not a European invention. The analysis of the evolution of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese clothing systems underlines how these societies underwent phases in which, thanks to propitious economic conditions, the accentuated propensity towards consumption stimulated behaviour that challenged the traditional hierarchies of appearance, usually regulated by canons of a prescriptive nature. Fashion was not, therefore, a European invention, but it only fully developed as a social institution in Europe, while in India, China, and Japan it only evolved partially, without being able to obtain full social recognition.

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S. A. M. Adshead , Material culture in Europe and China, 1400–1800, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997.

Donald H. Shively , ‘Sumptuary regulations and status in early Tokugawa Japan’, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 25, 1964–5, pp. 123–64.

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Journal of Global History
  • ISSN: 1740-0228
  • EISSN: 1740-0236
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-global-history
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