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John Stephen: A Carnaby Street Presentation of Masculinity 1957–1975

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Abstract:

In the post-war period, aided by advertising and the retail industry, British male shopping habits not only increased but were subject to the creation of new shopping practices. In the case of clothes buying, new practices were often shaped by entrepreneurs keen to fashion the development of a distinctive masculine style position. This created a situation where style positions were understood by consumption: the space, place, and location of the sale. This article examines the relationship between Carnaby Street, a shopping destination in London, and John Stephen, the entrepreneur credited with changing both the street and the notion of menswear. O'Neill uses the John Stephen archive at the V&A Archive of Art and Design to clarify the distinctions between retailer, consumer, and retail area; extrapolating them from a heavily mythologized moment of social history. The author proposes that shops and shopping areas can be held responsible for the creation of new masculine style positions and that these identities are strongly bound to a popular understanding of these spaces, even to the point of disadvantage.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/136270400779108636

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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