Fashion and Everyday Life Cover Image

Fashion and Everyday Life

London and New York


Cheryl Buckley and Hazel Clark

Berg Fashion Library

Table of contents

London and New York: Clothing the City

Book chapter

DOI: 10.5040/
Pages: 27–56



At the end of the nineteenth century, London was the capital city of an empire that extended over a quarter of the land surface of the globe and it comprised 20 per cent of the population of England and Wales.[1] Fifty years later, describing Britain just prior to the Second World War, the historian Charles Mowat noted that London had seen rapid population growth in the 1920s and 1930s to peak at 8.6 million in 1939 from 6.5 million in 1899.[2] This growth from the beginning of the twentieth century was particularly in its outer suburbs, which increased by 27 per cent, while concurrently inner London had decreased by 2 per cent by 1939.[3] London’s population gradually declined after 1972 to 6.8 million in 1981 but thereafter rising again to 7.56 million in 2007.[4] Whereas in the earlier part of the nineteenth century, the working class had to live near to their places of employment, as transportation across London was transformed with the development of modern systems such as the Underground, new working-class suburbs developed in Stoke Newington, Walthamstow, West Ham and Lewisham, and by ‘1912 workmen’s tickets represented about 40 per cent of all suburban railway journeys within 6 to 8 miles of the centre of London’.[5] As an example, in the 1850s, the skilled workforce of Henry Poole, Bespoke Tailors of Savile Row lived near to work to the east of Regent Street in Soho, to the north between Oxford Street and Great Portland Street, and to the north east towards Camden. By 1890, they had moved west to Kensal Green and Shepherds Bush and south to Battersea and Brixton.[6] These well-paid artisans travelled 2.2 km to work in 1857, whereas by the 1890s they travelled an average of 4.5 km to homes in these newer suburbs. This shifting urban geography – between the West End and East End, the inner city slums and the burgeoning suburbs, the home and the workplace – signalled social and gender differentiation. In 1891, Charles Booth had estimated that the middle class and those above represented some 17 per cent of the population; this upper echelon was increased by the arrival of leading families into London’s West End for the season during the summer months, and at the turn of the century, although ‘there were still only about 4,000 families which took an active part in London society, the influence of that society was nevertheless immense’.[7]

Describing the ‘trades of the East London connected with Poverty’ in the fourth volume of his influential social survey Life and Labour of the People of London of 1902, Charles Booth offered detailed descriptions of the tailoring trade in London.[8] He explained how

On the one side … we find the Jewish contractor with his highly organized staff of fixers, basters, fellers, machinists, button-hole hands, and pressers, turning out coats by the score, together with a mass of English women, unorganised and unregulated, engaged in the lower sections of the trade; whilst on the other side of the boundary we see an army of skilled English tradesmen with regulated pay and restricted hours working on the old traditional lines of one man one garment.[9]

Produced at a pivotal moment in the transformation of the clothing industry in Britain, Booth’s survey identified three systems of production:

The ‘Factory System’, which involves the utmost use of machinery; the ‘Sweating System’, which by division of labour makes use of the workmanship of all qualities at varying prices; and the employment of individual artisans who themselves perform all parts of the work, may roughly be taken as representing the ‘Provincial’, the ‘East End’, and the ‘West End’ methods of production respectively.[10]

With the East End as his focus, he described an area of less than one square mile (the whole of Whitechapel, a small piece of Mile End, and a part of St George’s-in-the-East) that housed thirty or forty thousand Jews of all nationalities and from all countries. Within this area, some 76 per cent of businesses employed fewer than ten people.[11] As Newman put it: ‘The new labour force was provided by thousands of eastern European Jews driven from their homes by persecution. Most of these refugees went on to the United States, but many stayed in Britain, especially in London and in Leeds; and it was to the clothing industry that they gravitated’.[12] Examining the clothing industry in Britain from the mid-nineteenth century, historians have argued that ‘as demand for cheaper ready-made clothing increased it was London based clothiers who began to organise cheap female labour, sub-divide the assembly tasks, and eventually, to introduce the early sewing-machines to speed up the manufacturing processes’.[13] By the early 1870s, this mainly female workforce laboured in early sweatshops that appeared archaic and primitive especially in light of the recent development of mechanized (based on the sewing-machine) clothing factories established outside London. Significantly, it was in this context that the decline of the sweated trades of London was anticipated, however by the beginning of the twentieth century, the East End garment trade was successful and highly efficient, but not as a result of following the new principles of factory organization. Rather,

with a growing aggregate demand employers could be reasonably confident that enough work would come their way even if it was not to their own designs … Workers needed to be skilled enough to be able to assemble a wide array of garment styles. Employers needed to concentrate on finding market-niches where the firm’s speciality would give some guarantee of future income free from the uncertainty of sub-contracted orders. Combined together this resulted in an increasingly high-skilled workforce concentrated in the East End and a proliferation of small firms specialising in one or more of the minutiae tasks in the assembly-process.[14]

In the East End ‘slop trade’, cheap ready-made clothes were made based on flexible labour divisions as complex skilled methods of production were broken down into simple elements: ‘Different pairs of hands cut, sewed, buttonholed, ironed and packed’.[15] It was the skill level and diversity of specialized practices that gave ‘the East End clothing industry its collective advantage over all other regions and which differentiated the industry there from that organised in large firms with unskilled operatives in Leeds and other provincial centres’.[16] The downside of this was that ‘wages and conditions [were] screwed down to starvation and slum levels’ but casual labour was in abundance as ‘wives and children [were] chained to the district near to their husbands’ or fathers’ place of work, and constrained to slave for a pittance to supplement the family budget; and by the ceaseless stream of poor unskilled migrants from Ireland and the continent as well as from England, also ready to work at anything available’.[17] Discussing the clothing practices of immigrants in London’s East End in the 1890s, Breward commented,

the real clothing practices of immigrants (as producers and consumers of dress) were perhaps more humdrum. Economic and social necessities frequently demanded that the vulnerable foreigner adapt to local circumstances, and historians of immigration have shown how incoming communities gradually adopted practices of public assimilation in order to ‘fit’ while reserving the memories and customs of the old country for the private world of home.[18]

The capacity to buy such everyday garments that allowed one to fit in – particularly for wear outside the home – was vital. Photographs of tailor’s shops from the Jewish Museum in London show men and women dressed in clothes that clearly comply to ‘fashion’s rules’: men wearing formal stiff-collared shirts and waistcoats, the women wearing high-neck blouses with lace, pin-tucks and leg of mutton sleeves over sharply tailored skirts (Figure 1.1).

Figure 1.1. Workers in the tailoring workshop of Harris Chaimofsky, Christian St., the East End, London, c. 1910. Courtesy of Jewish Museum of London.

Workers in the tailoring workshop of Harris Chaimofsky, Christian St., the East End, London, c. 1910. Courtesy of Jewish Museum of London.

With the high price of land and subsequent high rents, large factories in the centre of London were uneconomic, but this abundance of labour suited ‘sweating’ whereby production was fragmented among home workers. Thriving in this context was Elias Moses & Son, tailors, clothiers, hatters, hosiers and furriers. Based in the East End but with a retail outlet in the City of London, by the mid-nineteenth century, Moses employed 3,500 workers to make fashionable clothes for men, and as Ehrman wrote: ‘The scale of their operation was ambitious, integrating manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing, tailoring and outfitting, and the sale of ready-made and bespoke garments’.[19] These companies produced a range of everyday fashions by their enterprise: ‘the standard garments of coat, waistcoat, trousers and topcoat were available in a range of imaginatively named styles and a large choice of materials, at prices which reflected the variety of cut, fabrics and trimmings’.[20] Although they frequently supplemented their ready-to-wear trade with a bespoke service: ‘Moses’ bespoke clients entered his shop through a private waiting hall which gave a gloss of exclusivity to the service’.[21]

By 1911, London’s East End and Leeds in the north of England employed one in four of tailoring workers in England and Wales. In Leeds in the mid to late Victorian period, a company such as John Barran was pioneering the introduction of new technologies such as the sewing machine as well as inventing the band-knife. It was with this increasingly technological production that Barran mass-produced low-quality boys’ wear for Empire markets.[22] Although the sewing machine’s principle advantage was and remains the greatly improved speed of stitching, its inability to handle fabrics sensitively meant that craft skills in handling and manipulating the cloth continued to be a necessity and as a result the clothing industry remained highly labour intensive. With Singer sewing machines representing three-quarters of the market share in Britain by the 1880s, there was, as Godley argued, ‘a strong correlation between the period of most rapid gains in efficiency in the industry and the demand for improved (Singer) sewing machines’.[23] As the restructured industry in Leeds and other northern cities allowed economies of scale in production, this enabled these companies to take market share, thus putting pressure on wages in other areas, particularly in London’s East End, which could not compete in economies of scale. Nevertheless, as historians have shown, these workshops were still the dominant mode of organization in the clothing trade in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries accounting for 56 per cent of total employment. Thus by 1935 the ‘relative efficiency of small scale organisation was enhanced, and with it the place of London as the centre of Britain’s clothing industry’.[24] From the late 1880s, ‘the East End trade had become increasingly focused on the rapidly growing ladies’ trade’, and by the 1930s, it was dominant particularly in the key market sector of women’s clothing.[25] Whereas prior to the 1880s, women bought their clothes in pieces to be made up by a dressmaker, men were already buying ready-made clothing. Godley cites the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth centuries as the pivotal moment when women’s wear began to be made up in advance by tailors. Citing Morris Cohen, a Russian émigré who established himself in the East End, as an example, he explained that by 1902, Cohen employed 180 people in a collection of small workshops in Stepney.[26] In fact by 1939, 50 per cent of women’s and girl’s tailored outerwear and 48 per cent of daywear was made in London, with a number of well-known firms established – Windsmoor and Berketex were examples. Berketex grew out of Morris Cohen’s Stepney workshops and Windsmoor grew from Ellis Goldstein’s Commercial Street premises.[27] Typically these women’s wear firms were much smaller that men’s tailoring firms due in part to a production process that had to be more responsive to the vagaries of fashion. As women’s styles changed quickly, production needed to be highly responsive and thus the advance outlay of textiles, for example, was curtailed until a particular design was assured of success.

It has been remarked that ‘London is to men what Paris is to women – the paradise of fashion shops’.[28] The West End was the site of traditional bespoke businesses including tailors and dressmakers who, at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century, still produced beautifully made, one-off garments for all occasions for the wealthy sectors of society – both in London and in the rest of the country: ‘English tastes informed much of the clothing made in London. These were dictated by the lifestyle of the upper classes who moved from town to country according to the social calendar’.[29] A member of land-owning society in the north of England, pioneer aviator Linda Morrit of Rokeby Hall near Barnard Castle bought her wedding dress and ball gowns from the couturier Lucile, who was established in 1896 on Hanover Square. Like many of Britain’s social elite, Morrit frequented London during the season and bought tailored costumes, gowns, dresses and hats in London’s premier fashion quarter. Situated west of Regent Street, with Piccadilly to the south, Oxford Street to the north and numerous small streets in between, this represented the heart of the West End dress-making and tailoring district.[30] Importantly this area was close by Oxford Street, which by the 1930s had become London’s ‘Main Street’.[31] In the first half of the twentieth century, the West End of London had a range of smart establishments that offered alternatives to Paris, including Sarah Fullerton-Montieth Young on Grosvenor Square, Reville and Rossiter on Hanover Square, Russell & Allan on Old Bond Street, Madame Ross on Grafton Street, with Victor Stiebel opening in 1932 on Bruton Street and Lachasse opening on Farm Street just off Berkeley Square in 1928.[32] An air of exoticism was discernible particularly in West End fashion businesses in 1920s due in part to an influx of Russian Jewish dressmakers and milliners recorded in the 1921 census.[33] These contributed to a discernible ‘aestheticism’ in English fashion in the period immediately after the end of the First World War that resulted in bold colours and a touch of the exotic that coalesced with a distinctly ‘odd, eccentric and aesthetic’ strand of fashion in Britain that was already evident at the end of the nineteenth century.[34] At the same time, there was a substantial group of women dressmakers based in this area and in Knightsbridge and South Kensington who, though not part of the upper-echelon of London couturiers and court dressmakers, remained important producers of good quality women’s fashions. South Kensington-based dressmakers included Thorpe on Cromwell Place and Goodwill on Alfred Place West, while in the West End they included Kate Reilly on Dover St and Isobel on Regent St. The latter also had a branch in the fashionable Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate. Her clothes, which were exported to America, were ‘well-tailored, supremely wearable, totally appropriate and chic’.[35] Isobel’s business was atypical as she employed over 550 staff including 400 girls, whereas the average dressmaker of this type employed between ten and thirty workers.[36] In addition to these established elite dressmakers, there was also a plethora of small dressmakers who would make up clothes for particular clients often suggesting ideas and adapting Paris models. Nevertheless, ‘The glamorous setting and fanciful products of London’s elite dressmaking sector, dominated by women proprietors in this period, still disguised exploitative working practices’.[37] As the various campaigns against sweated labour made clear, in the early part of the twentieth century, women in particular still worked in their own homes in poor light for long hours to produce all manner of garments including those at the top end of the fashion business. Alongside these, of course, were the department stores, many of which operated workrooms producing clothes to their own designs plus copies of Paris models. Marshall and Snelgrove on Oxford St and Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge were examples of these.

The finest London tailors firms were also based adjacent to these West End dressmakers particularly around Savile Row, however the tailoring trade comprised a number of categories of shop.[38] Elite ‘West End’ establishments offered exquisitely hand-sewn garments that were dependent on the acquired craft skills of a tailoring aristocracy who worked for specific companies. In 1902, Booth wrote,

we have in Central London the ‘West End’ trade, that is work done for the fashionable shops of Regent St and the neighbourhood. The general characteristic of this trade is high-class work, commanding a good price, and those who get enough of it do very well … the best ‘bespoke’ work, which is the kernel of the West End trade, has a limited and perhaps shrinking sphere, but the supply of first-rate workmen is as limited as the trade.[39]

In between this type of production and the sweated production described earlier were tailoring companies that – in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – combined mechanized processes, particularly machine cutting and sewing machines, with a degree of bespoke tailoring. Some of this would be outsourced. The ‘spectacle of the shop’ occupied by these different categories of tailor revealed all: whereas Henry Poole’s tailor’s shop on Savile Row was ‘the closest that a tailor’s shop might come to impinging on the magnificence of the department store’, more typical were the tailors occupying second-floor premises which combined production and fitting in the same spaces.[40] From 1883, Henry Poole, ‘tailor by appointment to all the crowned heads in the world of any note’, was located at 15 Savile Row in the former premises of the Savile Club.[41] As Porter argued, Gentlemen’s Clubs ‘helped keep London a masculine city, and St James’s, with its bachelor chambers around King and Jermyn Streets, was its inner sanctum’.[42] The gendering of this particular terrain of the West End at the end of the nineteenth century as masculine meant that ‘gentlemen could step out of their lodgings and visit their club, hat-maker, gun-maker, boot-maker or tailor in the course of a leisurely promenade’.[43] The clientele for these top establishments was varied with customers from the city and the provinces, from Britain’s Empire and from other Western countries, but unifying them was their capacity ‘to pay the high prices … charged for their top-quality garments’.[44] The wealthy Americans who frequented Henry Poole’s in the early twentieth century contributed to the development of new fashion practices that represented ‘direct engagement with modernity ... through the increased proportion of the wealthy who worked for a living, which led to a re-negotiation of the concept of leisure and also an increased cosmopolitanism that was informed by changes in wealth accumulation and new forms of travel’.[45] Perhaps more important for this discussion of fashion and everyday lives, by the early twentieth century, although there remained a ‘lingering appeal’ of English aristocratic modes of production and consumption relating to tailoring, these were in flux and were being re-constituted by a ‘three-way cultural exchange’ between Poole’s tailors, foreign consumers and British customers.[46] Men’s clothing was also bought directly from drapers and hosiers: ‘these emporia of ready-made articles pushed masculine attire out from the obscurity of second-floor cutters’ workrooms or the back cabinets of drapers shops and into the plate glass glare of late nineteenth-century public culture’.[47]

Significantly London’s new suburbs were home to an expanding number of small tailors, clothiers, hosiers and drapers who produced not only made-to-measure but also men’s ready-made suits. As the fashion trade moved ‘west’, ‘drapers led the way’.[48] From these many of the new department stores emerged: Dickens & Jones on Regent Street from the 1890s, Peter Robinson on Oxford Street from the late nineteenth century, the Newcastle-based Fenwick on Bond Street from 1891 and Bourne and Hollingsworth. Initially established in Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, in 1894 to sell blouses and women’s garments, Bourne and Hollingsworth acquired premises on Oxford St in 1902 that were altered and expanded by John Slater (1847–1924) and subsequently by his son John Slater (1885–1963) in the 1910s.[49] Further west was Whiteley’s on Westbourne Grove with nineteen departments housed under one roof by 1900. As the manufacture and retailing of fashion diversified, there also remained thriving street markets where clothing could be bought and sold including Petticoat Lane in Spitalfields, Camden Market in Camden Town, Portobello Road off Ladbroke Grove, Watney Street in Whitechapel, Sclater Street in Shoreditch and Berwick St in Soho. A photograph of Petticoat Lane in the East End from 1900 shows a typical London street market –chaotic, bustling, obstructed and crowded selling food, household goods as well as old clothes. Its social heterogeneity evident: young and old; well-dressed visitors and stall-holders in work clothes; and ethnically diverse (Figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2. Petticoat Lane Market, London, 1900. London Metropolitan Archives.

Petticoat Lane Market, London, 1900. London Metropolitan Archives.

In contrast, Berwick St market in the West End was ‘renowned for its smart and reasonably priced dress shops, provided you were not deterred by the schleppers’,[50] who as Walkowitz puts it, ‘schlepped or pulled customers into “guinea gown shops”’.[51] Berwick St market became an important fashion market particularly by the 1920s and 1930s. Its unique location in the heart of London’s West End (south of Oxford St and east of Regent St) complicated Goffman’s ‘front and back’ spatial metaphor as Jewish traders rendered the market – typically a‘back space’ – open and explicit, more front than back. They transformed it into ‘a retail space for stockings and ready-made gowns purveyed to fashion-conscious working women’.[52] One of the largest London street markets was the Caledonian Road Market in Southwark, which traded every Friday with 725 stalls by 1914 and expanded to Tuesday and Friday by 1932 with 3,400 stalls.[53] The ‘Cally’, as the Caledonian Road Market was affectionately named, had an array of stalls; some ‘was taken by the very poorest of the market people. The pitches were given over to rags, old clothes … In contrast … there were Orientals, probably Indians, who sold gaudy silk ties, kerchiefs, and shawls’.[54] Re-established as the New Caledonian Market in 1949 following the bombing of the original in the Second World War, it was, as Breward argued, heir to Camden Market as it developed along the Regent’s Canal north of the huge railway terminals of Kings Cross, St Pancras and Euston.[55]

New York

Local geography conditioned the history and sensibility of the everyday experiences of the different races, classes, genders and generations living together in New York and how they presented themselves to one another. From the Lower East Side at the southern tip of Manhattan, the historical, geographical and cultural transitions in the city and its people demonstrate how fashionable clothing played a significant part of the everyday lives of New Yorkers. From the second decade of the nineteenth century until the 1920s around thirty-three million people moved to the United States from all over the world, three -quarters through the port of New York. Some continued the long, slow journey westward, but many stayed and settled in the city. Initially, Irish and German Catholics were in the greatest numbers, from the 1860s, sharing a religion that marked them out in the strongly Protestant and Anglo-Saxon city, causing inevitable conflicts of lifestyle and beliefs. From the 1840s they contributed to the garment trade, with the Germans establishing a thriving second-hand clothing trade, as well as the practice of home manufacturing.[56] Irish and Germans shared neighbourhoods and tenement accommodation. Many of the same buildings were occupied by Jewish and Italian immigrants who came to the city from around the 1880s to the end of the century. These new immigrants were much poorer generally than those who had preceded them; the mass migration of Eastern European Jews at the turn of the century, to escape the Russian pogroms, being ‘epic in proportion’.[57] ‘The United States lured me not merely as a land of milk and honey but also, and perhaps chiefly, as one of mystery, of fantastic experiences, of marvellous tranformations’.[58] ‘The immigrant’s arrival in his new home is like a second birth to him’.[59]Schreier notes how, in the late nineteenth century, the unprecedented expansion of the American ready-to-wear clothing industry signalled the transition of America from an agrarian to a capitalist economy. Clothes were more frequently purchased than made as the country moved from one of production to consumption.

The ‘slop shops’ of the eighteenth century, known for cheap ready-made clothes, catering in particular to the needs of sailors, were the basis for the development of a much more sophisticated range of clothing. From rather crude beginnings as a service industry for labourers’ garments (slop clothes), ready-to-wear developed into a large-scale industry supplying clothing to a mass market. Street peddlers catered for the needs of poorer New Yorkers, providing daily necessities such as food, but also providing choices for the likes of household textiles or clothing (Figure 1.3).

Figure 1.3. Peddlers, New York, 1898. Museum of the City of New York.

Peddlers, New York, 1898. Museum of the City of New York.

The photograph from 1898 also shows how the female customers and vendor were dressed similarly, wearing garments for protection. This includes shawls and capes, as well as an umbrella, as guard against the climate, and aprons to avoid dust and dirt on what would be one of a small number of garments in their possession. The result was a social levelling that blurred the distinctions between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.[60] Building on the success of the men’s ready-to-wear industry, the earliest women’s ready-made garments were simple wraps and outer garments. Improvements in standardized sizing facilitated the addition of more complex garments for women. By the 1890s, this included underwear,corsets, skirts and blouses; all items of clothing that twenty years later could be purchased ready-made.[61] The catalogues issued by department stores and mail order companies provided New York City and the country at large with a vast range of goods, including the latest fashion. In the city itself, photographs from the period show the range and diversity of clothing available.

Figure 1.4. Street scene of peddlers and street vendors on Hester Street on the Lower East Side, Manhattan, 1898. Museum of the City of New York.

Street scene of peddlers and street vendors on Hester Street on the Lower East Side, Manhattan, 1898. Museum of the City of New York.

The street scene from Hester Street on the Lower East Side in 1898 (Figure 1.4) shows peddlers and street vendors selling foodstuffs in front of shops offering ready-made, men’s clothes, and also textiles. The everyday clothing of the vendors and purchasers are again similar, as in Figure 1.3. We can note also how women are dressed more domestically, while men are more formally attired for the outside, in the ready-made straight-cut sack jackets, common to the period and headwear, either hats or caps, depending on their status.

The availability of fashionable clothes at affordable prices was made possible by the huge expansion of the functional ready-to-wear industry in New York. A term which supplanted ‘ready made’ at the end of the nineteenth century, a linguistic shift distinguishing a move of emphasis from ‘produced’ to ‘consumed’ items.[62] By the end of the nineteenth century, the everyday life of many working people in New York was impacted by fashionable garments. In its various forms, the garment industry employed substantial numbers of women, menand children, in enterprises of different sizes, including those in the home. The immigrant workforce contributed to the success of the burgeoning American ready-to-wear industry, which while distinct from totally hand-made custom clothing, still required large numbers of workers.[63] Such was the growth of the industry that in 1904, New York’s garment factories were cited as producing 65 per cent of all ready-made clothes in the United States.[64] German Jews who began as peddlers, many specializing in second-hand clothing, later opened retail stores and finally became the clothing manufacturers who dominated the industry around 1860 to 1890. The period from 1880 to 1920 witnessed the ‘Great Migration’ from Eastern and Southern Europe, with Jews, who possessed needle skills, coined ‘the tailors of Europe’, first from Russia and Poland, stimulating the growth in ready-made clothing industry. They were joined from 1890 and increasingly after 1900 by Italian tradesmen and their wives and female family members, most of whom were already accomplished seamstresses, who eventually came to outnumber the Jews in the New York garment trade. Nevertheless, it is the Jews who have been described as making ‘the volatile women’s clothing industry’ their own.[65] By 1924, when the Immigration and Naturalization Act had halted the flow of immigration to the United States, many of the two million Jews who had entered the country from Russia and Poland and had settled on the Lower East Side were deploying their tailoring and needle skills. As a result, ‘in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, coinciding with the influx of Jewish immigration, the garment industry grew at two or three times the rate of other businesses, and by 1890 there were over one thousand women’s-wear companies’.[66] Responsible for two-thirds of nationwide sales for cloaks, suits, shirtwaisters and undergarments, New York dominated volume production of ready-to-wear clothing. These predominantly Eastern European Jews working for lower wages, longer hours and minimal profit margins began to dominate the women’s clothing manufacture in New York and they drove out the large German Jewish manufacturers.[67] These ‘moths of Division Street’, went on to found ‘the most successful apparel firms on Seventh Avenue’.[68] Different grades of fashion were already being produced at this time for different social and economic groups, with social distinction having already been established with the early nineteenth-century expansion of middle classes and continued to developed over time ‘through the social uses of fashion by different classes and ethnicities’.[69] ‘The Germans were the first of a long succession of groups of immigrants to establish ethnic enclaves in New York where foreign languages were spoken, different clothes were worn, and different kinds of foods were sold and served in restaurants’.[70] With the growing success of Eastern European Jews in women’s clothing production, German Jews ‘Known as the Giants of Broadway … went into other businesses such as department stores and wholesale textiles’.[71]

Abraham Cahan’s fictional character, immigrant Russian Jew David Levinsky, an apprentice cloak maker at the Manheimer Bros. factory, provides details of the organization of clothing production on the Lower East Side in the late nineteenth century. His shop belonged not to a manufacturer, but to one of his contractors, who received from him ‘bundles’ of material, which his employees (tailors, machine-operators, pressers and finisher girls) made up into cloaks or jackets. It is worth noting that these were probably the first garments worn in public (as distinct from the ‘private’ underwear or housedresses) to be sold in any quantity ready-made.[72] Photographs by Lewis Hine of 1910 and 1912 show Jewish male and Italian female schleppers as part of the urban everyday of the Lower East Side as they delivered cut pieces of fabric and collected them made up. The woman captured carrying a heavy load of home-work on Lafayette Street, near Astor Place (Figure 1.5), is typical of many schleppers pictured in lower Manhattan, although of particular note due to her attire, which includes a fashionable handbag, with a functional shawl, boots and apron. She would have been moving between her home and the premises of her supplier. Cheaper goods were made entirely by ‘operators’; the better grades partly by tailors, partly by operators, or wholly by tailors; but these were mostly made ‘inside’, that is in the manufacturer’s own establishment.

Figure 1.5. Tired woman with heavy load of home-work. Lafayette St., near Astor Place, New York, 1912. Lewis Hine.

Tired woman with heavy load of home-work. Lafayette St., near Astor Place, New York, 1912. Lewis Hine.

Home-work was not only taking place on the Lower East Side. A photograph taken by Lewis Hine, dated December 1911, showing Mrs. Tony Totore (or Totoro), of 428 E. 116th St. 2nd floor back, is accompanied by a caption that provides valuable insights into the conditions and earnings of home workers. Mrs Totore earned from $2.00 to $2.50 a week making lace for contractor Mrs. Rosina Schiaffo, located two blocks away at 301 E 114th St, 3[rd] floor. Mrs. Sohiaffo, sent her lace to a manufacturer, in midtown Manhattan, M. Weber Co., 230 E 52 St. Mrs Totore, who is pictured with her husband and two children, 4 and 7 years old, is quoted as saying, ‘I rather work for a factory. They pay more’.[73] Another Hine photograph of the same date pictures Mrs Mette and her family making flowers in what is described as ‘a very dirty tenement’, at 302 Mott Street in lower Manhattan. Pictured is thirteen-year-old Josephine who sometimes helped outside school hours until 9pm. Once she turned 14 she would likely go to work in the embroidery factory where she had been employed the previous summer. Her younger siblings, Nicholas, aged 6, and Johnnie, aged 8, were also shown at work. Eleven-year-old Rosie was not included due to sickness, and it was assumed that the family’s twenty-month-old baby, pictured playing with the flowers, would help a little before long. Altogether the family earned only 40 to 50 cents a day, but the small sum was important to them, especially as the father was a coach (or hack) driver, with irregular employment.[74]

According to Cahan, the designing, cutting and making of samples were ‘inside’ branches exclusively. Cahan refers to Gitelson as a skilled tailor and an ‘inside’ man, being mostly employed on sample making.[75] The work was hard and the day was long, from 6.00am to 9.00pm, necessitated by the seasonal nature of the trade. More lowly workers had to make their annual salary in the two short seasons of three and two months, respectively, with only the sample-makers, and high-grade tailors being kept busy throughout the year. The wages were relatively high with a good mechanic, or an operator being able to earn as much as $75 a week, for a fifteen hour day.[76] Levinsky began as a mere ‘operator’ making around $10 a week, half of which he was able to save for when production stopped. Levinsky was so absorbed in his skill that when, ‘At last the season set in. There was not a stroke of work in the shop. I was so absorbed in my new vocation that I would pass my evenings in a cloak-makers’ haunt, a café on Delancey Street, where I never tired talking sleeves, pockets, stitches, trimmings, and the like’.[77] Around 1905, Levinsky moved to his own business in new quarters on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street (proximate to the Ladies Mile shopping area at Madison Square Park residences and the newly completed Flatiron Building). He comments how ‘That locality has already become the center of the cloak-and-suit trade, being built up with new sky-scrapers, full of up-to-date cloak-factories, dress-factories, and ladies’-waist factories. The sight of the celebrated Avenue swarming with Jewish mechanics out for their lunch hour or going home after a day’s work was already a daily spectacle’.[78] Many would be producing the tailor-made suits for women, which were already ubiquitous on the streets of New York by the late nineteenth century, as well as in London (Figure 1.6). Based on male garments in their fabric, cut and styling, the tailor-mades were typically produced by men as they demanded skills which dressmakers did not possess; a fact that probably also accounted for them entering the factory system at an early stage.[79]

Figure 1.6. ‘Women’s Tailored Suits’ Siegel Cooper catalogue, 1910, p. 11, includes, on the far right, ‘A Chic London Model’. Author’s Collection.

‘Women’s Tailored Suits’ Siegel Cooper catalogue, 1910, p. 11, includes, on the far right, ‘A Chic London Model’. Author’s Collection.

Clothing had become cheaper by 1917, the year that Cahan’s account was published. As his character Levinsky notes, ‘When I learned the trade a cloak made of the cheapest satinette cost eighteen dollars. To-day nobody would wear it. One can now buy a whole suit made of all-wool material and silk-lined for fifteen dollars’.[80] He writes similarly of skirts and dress manufacture, remarking how the Russian Jew had introduced the factory-made gown, constantly perfecting it and reducing the cost of its production. As a result, a ready-made silk dress ‘of the very latest style and as tasteful in its lines, color scheme, and trimming as a high-class designer can make it’ could be purchased for a few dollars. He comments on how ‘gifted dress-designers’ were succeeding in providing a good fit, suited to the bodies and tastes of American women, rather than having to adopt the established practice of copying from French fashions. He concludes that it was the Russian Jew who not only, ‘Americanized the system of providing clothes forthe American woman of moderate or humble means’,[81] but made the average American woman ‘the best-dressed in the world’.[82] Ewen has described the development of factory-made goods between 1880 and 1920, as an ‘explosion’, which transformed the nature and quality of life in the United States; ‘Newindustries developed a vast array of consumer products that altered the context of everyday life’.[83] Ready-to-wear clothing was a major part of this transition, as indicated by these ‘Three Charming Frocks’, offered for sale at ‘money-saving prices’ for Fall/Winter 1918–1919 (Figure 1.7).

Figure 1.7. ‘Three Charming Frocks’ Bedell catalogue of ‘New York Styles’ for Fall/ Winter, 1918–1919. Author’s Collection.

‘Three Charming Frocks’ Bedell catalogue of ‘New York Styles’ for Fall/ Winter, 1918–1919. Author’s Collection.

Immigrants in the New York garment industry were key in helping to shape the US labour movement in the early twentieth century. For many employees work was all-consuming, with a working day lasting as long as eighteen hours. Working conditions were a prime topic addressed by unions, such as the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union, formed in 1900 by Jewish immigrants who were joined later by Italian immigrants. In 1909, the union had only 2,000 members when 15,000 shirtwaist makers went on strike in more than 500 factories; a protest that lasted four months and galvanized the union movement. Contemporary photographs provide extremely valuable evidence of such historical events and what women and men were wearing to work and for everyday. Change came following the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 that caused the death of 146 female employees, and forever drew attention to the conditions of garment workers in New York City, where by 1910 c. 41 per cent of the city’s population were immigrants. By this time, although daughters of immigrants continued to be employed in the garment trade, they were also working in schools, offices and department stores, jobs which allowed more autonomy and leisure time for going out and socializing with work mates, and the incumbent challenges of what to wear in public, the subject of the next chapter.[84]

By 1938, the garment business, which was the largest industry in New York City and, according to Vogue, larger than the steel industry, employed 200,000 workers. It had also gradually moved northwards to the east and west of Fifth Avenue around the low thirties. Aiming to stem this gradual spread towards Fifth Avenue, by the late 1930s, Seventh Avenue was established as the Garment Center Capitol with the erection of several major manufacturing buildings around 38th and 40th Streets and Seventh Avenue. As Vogue reporter described it, ‘Here, in chromium-plated, white-carpeted, thirty story skyscrapers (rabbit-warren sweat-shops have almost disappeared), more than five thousand wholesalers make most of the nation’s clothes’.[85]

‘Becoming American’

A number of researchers (Ewen 1985; Peiss 1986, Schreier 1994) have drawn attention to the importance of [fashionable] clothing for immigrants to the United States. Peiss, for example, notes how, ‘For newly arrived immigrants, changing one’s clothes was the first step in securing a new status as an American’.[86] Immigrant daughters were quoted as ‘shedding their pasts’ by changing their clothes.[87] Such transitions are recorded in visual culture, in written accounts and in oral histories. As Barbara Schreier has pointed out in her extensive research on Eastern European Jewish immigrants, from Russia, Romania, Poland or Ukraine, women were particularly taxed with deciding what artefacts of everyday life, including clothing, to take to their new homeland. ‘From all quarters, immigrants herald the same message – to become American women, one had to look the part’.[88] She notes that there were complex reasons for dress becoming a critical symbol of immigration. However, she draws proper attention to the ‘expressive potential’ and ‘adaptability of dress and its ability to transcend and alter an image. Their appearance and self-image were inextricably linked, and both were in constant renewal’.[89] As Enstad has remarked, ‘Fashion could be a way of making connections across ethnic boundaries, as immigrants from various backgrounds adopted similar styles, as well as a way to reinterpret a specifically Jewish or Italian identity in a new context’.[90] For instance, Japanese ‘picture brides’ were taken to a clothing store as soon as they landed in America, in particular to distinguish themselves from Chinese immigrants, the latter, interestingly, being ‘considered inassimilable because they refused to give up their native dress’.[91]

Figure 1.8. ‘A Happy New Year’ Photomechanical print postcard: offset lithograph, colour shows Jewish Americans welcoming Jews immigrating from Russia to America, c. 1900. Library of Congress.

‘A Happy New Year’ Photomechanical print postcard: offset lithograph, colour shows Jewish Americans welcoming Jews immigrating from Russia to America, c. 1900. Library of Congress.

A hand-coloured New Year’s postcard produced by the Hebrew Publishing Company in 1900 (Figure 1.8), representing Jewish Americans welcoming Jewish immigrants from Russia to America, shows the difference between the heavy, coarse garments of those arriving, compared with the more refined and fashionable outfits of those already assimilated. After Ellis Island opened in 1892, it was noted that most arriving Eastern European women ‘wore a kerchief as part of their native costume’.[92] Immigrant mothers brought large quantities of clothing with them, ‘representing sometimes their accumulations for a dowry – heavy linen underwear, thick heavily lined waists, clumsy shoes and wide, bright skirts. A coloured scarf or shawl completes the wardrobe’. These costumes were discarded in the United States: ‘Only some of the older women have the courage to appear at their factories in the garments they brought. The first year in this country frequently means much skimping and saving to get new clothes, especially among the younger women who want to “look American”’.[93] While formal programmes of ‘Americanization’ were introduced in order to help first-generation immigrants to assimilate, there are numerous accounts of how family members took on that role, ‘Donning ready-made clothing was the most visible sign of Americanization. Greenhorns quickly learned to be ashamed of old-world clothing. Americans ridiculed them on the streets or in school, and some garment manufacturers refused to hire women dressed in “un-American” clothing. All around them, movie posters, billboards, and chromos adorned women in sumptuous fashionable garments’.[94]

Oral histories are filled with accounts of relatives ‘schooling their newly arrived immigrants on the finer points of dressing’.[95] For Jewish garment worker and recent immigrant, Sophie Abrams, ‘becoming American’ meant a total overhaul of her wardrobe:

I was such a greenhorn, you wouldn’t believe. My first day in America I went with my aunt to buy some American clothes. She bought me a shirtwaist, you know, a blouse and skirt, a blue print with red buttons and a hat I had neverseen. I took my old brown dress and shawl and threw them away! I know it sounds foolish, we being so poor, but I didn’t care. I had enough of the old country. When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t get over it. I said, boy, Sophie, look at you now. Just like an American.[96]

Such sartorial overhauls applied not only to young women. Abraham Cahan (who himself immigrated to the United States from Lithuania in 1886) relates how his fictional hero David Levinsky was taken shopping by his benefactor Mr Even:

He then took me to store after store, buying me a suit of clothes, a hat, some underclothes, handkerchiefs (the first white handkerchiefs I ever possessed), collars, shoes, and a necktie. He spent a considerable sum on me. As we passed from block to block he kept saying, ‘Now you won’t look green,’ or, ‘That will make you look American’. At one point he added, ‘Not that you are a bad-looking fellow as it is, but then one must be presentable in America’.[97]

Transformations might also have taken place before the immigrant stepped onto the island of Manhattan, as described by Henry Roth in his novel based in 1907, ‘the year that was destined to bring the greatest number of immigrants’.[98] He describes a man escorting a woman from a ship as follows:

The man had evidently spent some time in America and was now bringing his wife and child over from the other side. It might have been thought that he had spent most of his time in New York, for he paid only the scantest attention to the Statue of Liberty or to the city rising from the water or to the bridges spanning the East River – or perhaps he was merely too agitated to waste much time on these wonders. His clothes were the ordinary clothes the ordinary New Yorker wore in that period – sober and dull. A black derby accentuated the sharpness and sedentary pallor of his face; a jacket, loose on his tall spare frame, buttoned up in a V close to the throat; and above the V a tightly-knotted black tie was mounted in the groove of a high starched collar. As for his wife, one guessed that she was a European more by the timid wondering look in her eyes as she gazed from her husband to the harbor, than by her clothes. For her clothes were American – a black skirt, a white shirt-waist and a black jacket. Obviously her husband had either taken the precaution of sending them to her while she was still in Europe or had brought them with him to Ellis Island where she had slipped them on before she left.[99]

Specific items of clothing took on great significance to the immigrant. David Levinsky comments that ‘A whole book could be written on the influence of a starched collar and a necktie on a man who was brought up as I was’.[100] Attention to head coverings was also of particular importance for both male and female Jewish immigrants. Casting off the headscarf or the wig in favour of the hat was a frequent marker of Americanness and modernity: ‘When Rose Pasternak landed at Castle Garden, her brother took her directly to a hat store: “They said in this country you don’t go to work without a hat.”’[101] Hairstyles are also mentioned; a young immigrant woman in 1911, who had been taken by relatives to buy new clothes, styled her hair in ‘an American fashion’, stating that in doing so ‘I’m almost an American. I have a rat for my hair. The essential thing in America is to look stylish’.[102] The hat was ubiquitous, with its style chosen to suit the occasion. A straw boater complemented a tailored skirt and cotton shirtwaist blouse in summer, while fancier millinery was worn in the afternoon and evening. Across the social strata and different income levels, all women, even the young, wore hats, with those of more modest means often re-trimming them to create a new look (Figure 1.9). ‘When twelve-year-old Celia Adler arrived in America in 1914, she discovered that it was not enough just to wear the right kind of hat’.[103] The sailor style, the first hat she had owned, given to her as a going-away present when she left Russia, was considered old fashioned by her sister who met her and insisted it was left on the dock at Ellis Island.[104]

Figure 1.9. Untrimmed hats, Bedell & Co, Spring/Summer 1918/19. Author’s Collection.

Untrimmed hats, Bedell & Co, Spring/Summer 1918/19. Author’s Collection.

When worn on the streets the hat became a symbol of gender and class struggle. Enstad has noted how middle- and upper-class women critiqued their working-class counterparts’ display of fashion as ‘putting on airs’ or ‘playing the lady’.[105] For middle-class women, fashion was determined as a display of class distinction and taste, as a cultural marker that distinguished them from the working class and from women of colour. Middle-class taste required women to follow, but not to lead fashion.[106] However, the everyday context was all important, capable of providing the same hats with different meanings if worn for work, or for leisure, in front of parents, or to promenade on 14th or Essex Streets, the wearers could be distinguished as ‘workers’, ‘Americans’, ‘ladies’, or significantly, ‘all three at once’.[107] Working-class women in particular developed a very distinct everyday relationship with hats, and other items of clothing [more in the next chapter], their knowledge as consumers, enhanced by the fact that many of them were also the makers of fashionable dress. As Schreier has noted, ‘the dominant role of Jewish women in the garment industry and needle trades led to a heightened fashion-consciousness’.[108] She also draws attention to the symbolic importance of clothing traditions to Eastern European Jews, and the historical roles of such as sheitels (wigs) and peyes (side locks).

‘The corset also figures prominently in the acculturation process because embracing the American ideal meant accepting a new body type’.[109] For some corporeal assimilation was not such a problem. Rose R arriving from Bialystock ‘discovered her figure was in vogue’. Stylish women had ‘big busts, big behinds and small waistlines. And I was just built like that’.[110] But most women arriving from Eastern Europe found they were overweight by American standards and could not mould their figures to the curvaceous Gibson Girl fashionable ‘hourglass’ silhouette, with full hips and bosom and a small waist, the latter only made possible by wearing a corset. While well-off women in Eastern Europe had already adopted the corset, for the poorer immigrant women from remote villages, it was deemed uniquely American.[111] Initially, for Jewish immigrants, clothes were ‘the most tangible proof of assimilation’ that took on an almost magical quality in their potential to transform (even though it was later realized that the cultural and social mores of assimilation were much more complex). While dress was utilized to signify being modern and urban, New York City posed particular challenges. Schreier writes of Anna, a Czech girl who had lived in Vienna, where she ‘dressed up Modern’, but was quite unprepared for the fasterpace of life in New York City.[112] While wealthy women could distinguish and frown upon cheaper copies of their ensembles, to ‘America’s new arrivals, the ready-to-wear offerings appeared as an emblem of democracy’.[113]

Knowing Your Place

If fashion was a key to asserting ‘American’ identity for newly arrived immigrants at New York’s Ellis Island, donning clothes that bore some relationship to fashion also signalled class respectability and appropriate gendered behaviour for London’s population. As ‘Londoners came from everywhere’ with a third of people living in the city born outside it, it was crucial that fashion allowed an increasingly heterogeneous population to ‘fit in’.[114] While to be ‘indistinguishable by their clothing’ was a given for the new arrivals from eastern Europe and Ireland, as well as from Britain’s regions, neutral attire so they could pass unnoticed and not attract unwelcome attention was particularly vital for the army of young women traversing the city each day for work and for leisure.[115] From the start of the twentieth century, they outnumbered young men as new Londoners and their numbers swelled through the 1920s and 1930s as young working-class women came to London to take up positions first as domestic servants and then increasingly as unskilled and semi-skilled factory workers, dress-makers, shop and office workers. While the clothing practices of immigrants were ‘humdrum’, as ‘incoming communities gradually adopted practices of public assimilation in order to “fit” while reserving the memories and customs of the old country for the private world of home’, class also marked fashion in the development of London as the ‘modern metropolis’.[116] Juxtaposing the tailor’s workshop and the dandy’s dressing room, the gorgeous displays of Regent St and the second-hand clothing trade of Whitechapel, Breward maps out a London that is shaped by shifting class formations. These helped to shape fashion in the city along with gender and ethnicity: from the West End to the East End, but also beyond these to the rapidly expanding middle-class outer suburbs and the complex cultural geographies that marked ‘Mayfair hauteur and Lambeth Bravado’.[117] Describing the fluidity of class in nineteenth-century Britain, Wilson and Taylor’s observation that ‘the uncertainties of class were most marked in the shifting centre’, could just as easily be applied to Britain’s geographical and metropolitan centre, London.[118]

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, historians have argued for the rehabilitation of ‘“class” as a legitimate subject of historical enquiry’ in order to truly understand the nuances of social lives.[119] Turning away from ‘class analysis’, a number have proposed that it is in the ‘low-key but pervasive “languages of class” … that one finds the most determined attempts to reconstitute social understandings’.[120] Unsurprisingly, an awareness of class has been intrinsic to fashion and dress history since the theories of Veblen and Simmel at the end of the nineteenth century. The notions that fashionable looks ‘trickle down’ and that ‘dressing well’ offered opportunity for social emulation have become embedded in our Western understandings of fashion. Indeed it is a truism that domestic servants dressed to emulate their social betters, but that also their ability to dress well expanded as fashion knowledge permeated the wider society. However the desire to conform, to merge with the crowd and to know one’s place should not be understated within the context of class respectability and appropriate feminine behaviour particularly at a moment historically when these were being questioned politically, socially and culturally.

Over-layering these languages of class with those of gender, fashion was one of these ‘low-key but pervasive “languages of class”’, particularly when it was intrinsic to working women’s everyday lives.[121] Underlining the longevity of fashion and the importance of working-class respectability, this description of the dress of a female clerical worker from 1893 points to the vital significance of being ‘lady-like’:

with extreme care she had preserved an out-of-doors dress into the third summer: it did not look shabby. Her mantle was in its second year only; the original fawn colour has gone to an indeterminate grey. Her hat of brown straw was a possession forever: it underwent new trimming, at an outlay of pence, when that became unavoidable. Yet Virginia could not have been judged anything but a lady. She wore her garments as only a lady can (the position and movement of the arms has much to do with this), and had the step never to be acquired by a person of vulgar instincts.[122]

Distinctive methods of clothing manufacture and the interface between these and their selling and presentation were intrinsic to the social, cultural and economic identities of London and New York in the twentieth century. In Chapter 2, we examine the ways that specific streets and areas, as well as changing retailing practices – display and performance – ensured that fashionable dress became embedded in everyday lives in London and New York in the first decades of the twentieth century. As Walkowitz notes, not only was there a burgeoning number of middle-class shoppers who frequented London’s West End, they also were joined by the large army of working women – clerical workers and service workers – whose wages, increased twofold during and after the First World War, enjoyed new levels of prosperity. The social expectations of this growing number of working-class women were raised as they took on new roles and deserted domestic service. As we will see, the ‘entry of women into a new culture of fashion’[123] that gathered pace in the first few decades of the twentieth century was indicative of ‘a new turn in London’s modernity’ that was both different and similar to New York.[124]


[1] Francis Sheppard, London: a History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 263; 316.

[2] Charles Loch Mowat, Britain Between the Wars, 1918–1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955), 227; ‘Historical Overview of London Population’, London, available online (accessed October 11, 2012).

[3] Ibid., 227.

[4] ‘Facts and Figures: Population’, Mayor of London. London Assembly, available online (accessed October 11, 2012); ‘Facts and Figures: DMAG Update’, Mayor of London. London Assembly, available online (accessed October 11, 2012).

[5] Sheppard, London: A History, 272.

[6] David R. Green, ‘“Distance to Work in Victorian London: A Case Study of Henry Poole, Bespoke Tailors”’, Business History 30, no. 2 (1988), 187.

[7] Sheppard, London: A History, 304.

[8] Charles Booth, Poverty, Vol. 4: The Trades of East London Connected with Poverty, Life and Labour of the People of London, 1st series (London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1902).

[9] Ibid., 37.

[10] Ibid., 140.

[11] Ibid., 47.

[12] Peter K. Newman, ‘“The Early London Clothing Trade’,” Oxford Economic Papers 4, no. 3 (1952), 250.

[13] Andrew Godley, ‘“Immigrant Entrepreneurs and the Emergence of London’s East End as an Industrial District”’, The London Journal 21, no. 1 (1996), 38.

[14] Ibid., 43.

[15] Roy Porter, London: A Social History (London: Penguin, 2000), 240.

[16] Godley, ‘Immigrant Entrepreneurs’, 43.

[17] Sheppard, London: A History, 293.

[18] Christopher Breward, Fashioning London: Clothing and the Modern Metropolis (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2004), 59.

[19] Christopher Breward, Edwina Ehrman and Caroline Evans (eds), The London Look: Fashion from Street to Catwalk (New Haven and London: Yale University Press with Museum of London, 2004), 33.

[20] Ibid., 34.

[21] Ibid., 35.

[22] Andrew Godley, ‘“The Development of the UK Clothing Industry, 1850–1950: Output and Productivity Growth’,” Business History 37, no. 4 (1995), 56–7.

[23] Ibid., 59.

[24] Godley, ‘Immigrant Entrepreneurs’, 40.

[25] Godley, ‘The Development of the UK Clothing Industry’, 59.

[26] Godley, ‘Immigrant Entrepreneurs’, 42.

[27] Ibid., 42. See also Anne J. Kershen, Off the Peg: The Story of the Women’s Wholesale Clothing Industry 1880 to the 1960s (London: The Jewish Museum, 1988).

[28] Breward, Erhman and Evans, The London Look, 79.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Savista Magazine, available online (accessed January 11, 2016).

[31] Breward, Erhman and Evans, The London Look, 79.

[32] Lou Taylor, ‘The Wardrobe of Mrs Leonard Messel, 1895–1929, in The Englishness of English Dress, ed. C. Breward, B. Conekin and C. Cox (London: Penguin, 2002), 121–2; Finlay Muirhead, London and its Environs (London: Blue Book, 1918).

[33] Breward, Ehrman and Evans, The London Look 86.

[34] Taylor, ‘The Wardrobe of Mrs Leonard Messel’, 129; Breward, Ehrman and Evans, The London Look, 86–87.

[35] Breward, Ehrman and Evans, The London Look, 81.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid., 66.

[38] Christopher Breward, The Hidden Consumer: Masculinities, Fashion and City Life 1860–1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), 104.

[39] Booth, Poverty, 138–9.

[40] Breward, The Hidden Consumer, 108–109.

[41] Fiona Anderson, ‘“Fashioning the Gentleman: A Study of Henry Poole and Co., Savile Row Tailors 1861-1900”’, Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture 4, no. 4 (2000): 407.

[42] Porter, London, 342.

[43] Anderson, ‘Fashioning the Gentleman’, 408.

[44] Ibid., 409.

[45] Ibid., 416.

[46] Ibid., 422.

[47] Breward, The Hidden Consumer, 109.

[48] Porter, London, 242.

[49] J. Alan Slater (comp.), Ninety Years of Architectural Practice: Some Notes on the History of the Firm of Architects now Known as Slater & Uren from the Start of the Firm in About 1876 Until 1962 When I Retired from Active Participation (London: R.I.B.A. Library).

[50] Gerry Black, Living Up West: Jewish Life in London’s West End (London: The London Museum of Jewish Life, 1994), 35.

[51] Judith R. Walkowitz, Nights Out: Life in Cosmopolitan London (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 147.

[52] Ibid., 145–8.

[53] Jerry White, London in the Twentieth Century: A City and Its People (London: Random House, 2008), 252.

[54] Jane Brown, I had a Pitch on the Stones (London: Nicholson & Watson, 1946), 49–50.

[55] Ibid. 181.

[56] Kenneth T. Jackson (ed.), The Encyclopedia of New York City, 2nd edn (New Haven and London: Yale University Press), 493.

[57] Barbara A. Schreier, Becoming American Women: Clothing and the Jewish Immigrant Experience, 1880–1920 (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1994),17.

[58] Abraham Cahan, The Rise of David Levinsky (1917; repr., New York: Penguin, 1993 [1917]), 61.

[59] Ibid., 86.

[60] Schreier, Becoming American Women, 68.

[61] Nan Enstad, Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: Working Women, Popular Culture, and Labor Politics at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).

[62] Rob Schorman. Selling Style: Clothing and Social Change at the Turn of the Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 7.

[63] Claudia B. Kidwell and Margaret C. Christman, Suiting Everyone: The Democratization of Clothing in America (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974), 85.

[64] Schorman, Selling Style, 3.

[65] Kidwell and Christman, Suiting Everyone, 87.

[66] JoAnne Olian, ‘From Division Street to Seventh Avenue: The Coming of Age of American Fashion, in A Perfect Fit: The Garment Industry and American Jewry, 1860–1960, ed. Gabriel M. Goldstein and Elizabeth E Greenberg (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2012), 114.

[67] Ibid., 115.

[68] Ibid., 115.

[69] Enstad, Ladies of labor, 18.

[70] Allan Schoener, New York: An Illustrated History of the People (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1998), 85.

[71] Olian, ‘From Division Street to Seventh Avenue’, 115.

[72] Schorman Selling Style, 47.

[73] Lewis Wickes Hine, available online (accessed 9 December 2015).

[74] Lewis Wickes Hine, available online (accessed 9 December 2015).

[75] Cahan, The Rise of David Levinsky, 151.

[76] Ibid., 151–152.

[77] Ibid., 157.

[78] Ibid., 442.

[79] Schorman, Selling Style, 51.

[80] Cahan, The Rise of David Levinsky, 442.

[81] Ibid., 443.

[82] Ibid., 443–4.

[83] Elizabeth Ewen, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars: Life and Culture on the Lower east Side, 1890–1925 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1985), 22.

[84] Kathy L. Peiss, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986), 39.

[85] Ibid., 119.

[86] Peiss, Cheap Amusements, 63.

[87] Ewen, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars, 67.

[88] Schreier, Becoming American Women, 12.

[89] Ibid., 4.

[90] Enstad, Ladies of Labor, 9.

[91] Schreier, Becoming American Women, 5.

[92] Ibid., 59.

[93] Ewen, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars, 68.

[94] Ibid., 25.

[95] Schreier, Becoming American Women, 56.

[96] Ewen, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars, 68.

[97] Cahan, The Rise of David Levinsky, 101

[98] Henry Roth, Call It Sleep (New York: Robert O. Ballou, 1934), 9.

[99] Ibid., 10.

[100] Cahan, The Rise of David Levinsky, 110.

[101] Peiss, Cheap Amusements, 63.

[102] Ewen, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars, 69.

[103] Schreier, Becoming American Women, 61.

[104] Ibid., 61–62

[105] Enstad, Ladies of Labor, 10.

[106] Ibid., 27.

[107] Ibid., 10. C.f. D. W. Griffith, The New York Hat (1912).

[108] Schreier, Becoming American Women, 6.

[109] Ibid., 64.

[110] Ibid.

[111] Ibid.

[112] Ibid., 11.

[113] Ibid., 69.

[114] White, London in the Twentieth Century, 91.

[115] Andrew Hill, ‘People Dress so Badly Nowadays: Fashion and Late Modernity, in Fashion and Modernity, ed. Christopher Breward and Caroline Evans (Oxford: Berg, 2005), 70.

[116] Breward, Fashioning London, 59 and introduction.

[117] Ibid., 144.

[118] Elizabeth Wilson and Lou Taylor, Through the Looking Glass: A History of Dress from 1860 to the Present Day (London: BBC, 1989), 14.

[119] Jon Lawrence, ‘“The British Sense of Class’,” Journal of Contemporary History 35 (2000): 307.

[120] Ibid., 308.

[121] Ibid.

[122] Wilson and Taylor, Through the Looking Glass, 48.

[123] Walkowitz, Nights Out, 157.

[124] Lynda Nead, ‘Response’, in Fashion and Modernity, ed. Christopher Breward and Caroline Evans (Oxford: Berg, 2005), 123.