Fashioning the Gentleman: A Study of Henry Poole and Co., Savile Row Tailors 1861–1900

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Abstract:

This research is based on a case study of Henry Poole and Co. Savile Row Tailors 1861-1900 and on the company's archives, now housed at their premises at 15 Savile Row. The article looks at the relationship between shifts in the composition and lifestyle of the late nineteenth-century wealth, social and power elite and the development of male fashion practices in that period. The dress of socially elite men in the late nineteenth-century, has received scant academic attention to date. This invisibility has contributed to the wholesale acceptance of the psychologist J.C. Flugel's theory of the ‘Great Masculine Renunciation’ which he expounded in his 1932 text The Psychology of Clothes. These ideas have been challenged by Christopher Breward in his text The Hidden Consumer: masculinities, fashion and city life 1860-1914 primarily with reference to working and lower middle-class men in London. This article extends these debates by focusing on men of the class identified by Thorstein Veblen in 1899 as the ‘leisure class’, through an examination of the business activities of a leading Savile Row tailor and the clothing consumption strategies of their customers.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/136270400779108663

Publication date: November 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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