In the Eye of the Storm: Oxford Circus and the Fashioning of Modernity

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Breward examines the standing of Oxford Circus as part of a largely unmapped history of London waiting to be told through its clothing. The London College of Fashion is located here, and he argues that its placing carries a profound resonance that reflects both on the experience of modernity through fashion in a general sense, and on the status of London as a producer of the fashionable in particular. The term “fashionable” is used here to mean an understanding of fashion as a thoroughly popular and broadly urban-based phenomenon; an articulation of mass taste, mass marketing and mass production. The article explores the repeating resonances that connect to lend the College, Oxford Circus and the surrounding area their uniquely demotic fashionable character. The author argues that the study of fashion as a symptom of modernity might benefit from a method that focuses on the spatial and institutional contexts in which modern life is played out. Design and clothing are inextricably bound up with their immediate environment; a phenomenon that is relevant to the histories of garment districts and fashionable consumption all over the world.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Fashion Theory takes as its starting point a definition of “fashion” as the cultural construction of the embodied identity. The importance of studying the body as a site for the deployment of discourses has been well established in a number of disciplines. Until Fashion Theorys launch in 1997 the dressed body had suffered from a lack of critical analysis. Increasingly scholars have recognized the cultural significance of self-fashioning, including not only clothing but also such body alterations as tattooing and piercing.

    Fashion Theory provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the rigorous analysis of cultural phenomena. Its peer-reviewed articles range from foot-binding to fashion advertising.
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