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Fashion: a very short introduction

Fashion: a very short introduction

Arnold, Rebecca

Fashion is a global industry and plays a role in our economic, political, cultural, and social lives. However, fashion is often denigrated as trivial and superficial, a sign of vanity and narcissism. This book provides a clear understanding of how fashion has developed while addressing these divergent views

Book. English.
Published Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009
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Statement of responsibility: Rebecca Arnold
ISBN: 0199547904, 9780199547906
Intended audience: Specialized.
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: xiv, 146 p. : ill., port. ; 18 cm.
Series: Very short introductions
Subject: Fashion History.; Clothing trade.; Fashion.; Fashion design.; Beauty and Fashion.
Series Title: Very short introductions.


  1. Introduction: What Is Fashion?
  2. 1. Designers
  3. 2. Art
  4. 3. Industry
  5. 4. Shopping
  6. 5. Ethics
  7. 6. Globalisation
  8. Conclusion: The End of Fashion?
  9. References
  10. Further reading

Author note

Rebecca Arnold is an Oak Foundation Lecturer in History of Dress and Textiles at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She was Guest Professor at the Centre for Fashion Studies at Stockholm University 2006-07. She has lectured internationally at a wide range of colleges including the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York University, Bard Graduate Center, George Washington University, and the Smithsonian Institution.


Fashion is a dynamic global industry that plays an important role in the economic, political, cultural, and social lives of an international audience. It spans high art and popular culture, and plays a significant role in material and visual culture. This book introduces fashion's myriad influences and manifestations. Fashion is explored as a creative force, a business, and a means of communication. From Karl Lagerfeld's creative reinventions of Chanel's iconic

style to the multicultural reference points of Indian designer Manish Arora, from the spectacular fashion shows held in nineteenth century department stores to the mix-and-match styles of Japanese youth, the book examines the ways that fashion both reflects and shapes contemporary culture. Using

historical and contemporary examples, it gives a clear understanding of how fashion has developed since the renaissance, while raising questions about its status, ethical credibility, and influence on consumers.

The book provides insight into the structure of the fashion industry and how fashions are designed, promoted and consumed, in relation to relevant historical, social and cultural contexts. It is structured thematically, to look at the role and development of designers, the growth of shopping and the different businesses involved in making and selling fashionable clothes. Fashion's relationship to the wider culture is also explored, by considering its representation in art and collaborations

between designers and artists, the moral controversies surrounding fashion, and attempts to produce ethical clothing, and the effects of globalisation on the fashion trade.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


Arnold is an intelligent, communicative writer.
Philippa Stockley, Times Literary Supplement||Her fascinating little book makes a good framework for independent study and has a very useful bibliography.
Philippa Stockley, Times Literary Supplement||Arnold summarises with caption brevity, and [I] admire both her research and her succinctness.
Vera Rule, The Guardian