The development of retail selling – from the little shops of England at the time of the Napoleonic Wars to the Edwardian zenith of the great department stores – is a part of social history that has been little explored; and histories of fashion have been confined to what clothes were worn, and when. This book describes where and how they were bought.
It tells of itinerant drapers and travelling lacemen, village shops, open markets, arcades, and of all the craftsmen-proprietors whose homes were their shops...tailors, stay-makers, crinoline-makers and makers of umbrellas and parasols; hosiers, glovers, furriers, hatters and plumassiers. It tells of early women shop-keepers: milliners, court-dressmakers, corset inventresses; ribbon, trousseau, and India outfit specialists. It traces the expansion of linen drapers’, silk mercers’, woollen merchants’ and haberdashery shops into large emporiums, and the establishment of mourning warehouses, and branches of famous London shops at fashionable spas and watering places. It tells the story of the young retail adventurers who built up great department stores from small beginnings, the growth of quiet towns into great cities and of villages into suburbs, the changing social climate, the increasing acceptance of ready-to-wear clothes and the emancipation of women from financial dependence.
The author has gathered her information from the archives of famous stores and from retired members of the drapery trade; from old newspapers and magazines, catalogues, department ledgers and shop bills, firm’s histories and local records; from contemporary letters, novels and reminiscences. And she has gathered together a rare collection of equally fascinating illustrations from equally diverse sources. History is from day to day, and nothing has been more daily in our English life than keeping shop and going shopping.
First published 1964.
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‘A valuable and welcome undergraduate textbook.’ Environment and Planning
‘Recommended unreservedly to managers and planners in the distributive trades and to all those who are concerned with the implications of current trends in the provision of shopping facilities.’ Retail Distribution and Management
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