The World in a Wardrobe

Expressing notions of care in the economy and everyday life

Authored by: Joe Smith

Routledge Handbook of Sustainability and Fashion

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415828598
eBook ISBN: 9780203519943
Adobe ISBN: 9781134082957


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This chapter tells a brief history, politics and geography of consumption, told through garments. It explores some changing meanings of notions of ‘care’ (for things, for people, for the environment). It achieves this through the story of one woman’s century-long lifetime of buying, making, wearing and caring for clothes. The woman in question happens to be my grandmother, Betty Howard Smith. She was born in 1910, at the tail end of the British Edwardian summer, and died in 2010, a couple of years into the worst economic recession since the 1930s. She really had seen it all before. Her changing wardrobe guides the story, helping to pick out themes of contemporary relevance from some of the key events in her life. The story is organised around four sections, the last being a discussion of what can be learnt from the story about the pursuit of a more environmentally and socially sustainable system of fashion and clothing.

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