A Foot In The Past: Consumers, Producers, and Footwear in the Long Eighteenth Century

Hardcover | May 4, 2006

byGiorgio Riello

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A Foot in the Past analyses how footwear was consumed, retailed and produced in the eighteenth century. How many shoes were consumed? Who wore them? And what did the wearing of shoes mean in a society where part of the population walked barefoot? The book replies to such questions by showinghow the increasing availability of boots, shoes and slippers in the eighteenth century was matched by profound changes in the way footwear was sold by shoe sellers and purchased by customers. By the mid-eighteenth century large shops provided a wide array of types, sizes and shapes of footwear fromhigh-class lustrous boots to cheap shoes with nailed soles. Shoemaking, however, remained during the eighteenth and for most of the nineteenth century one of the most 'traditional' sectors of British and continental economies. The fact that mechanization and industrialization affected boot andshoemaking only after 1850 is not exceptional. The production of most consumer goods remained dominated by small-scale urban manufacturing in which the application of machinery played little part in either increasing productivity or changing the shape and quality of products. This book argues thatthe social and economic practices in the consumption of footwear are fundamental for understanding how such garments were produced and sold. Rather than embracing a vision of economic development based on mechanization and industrialization, this book investigates how social and cultural contextsfor consumption shaped the way in which consumers' needs were satisfied. These lines of enquiry are developed through a comparative analysis of British and French histories based upon primary and secondary sources and a wide-ranging survey of the literature on dress and fashion in the eighteenthcentury. Volumes 1 to 13 in Pasold Studies in Textile History series may be ordered from www.maney.co.uk

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A Foot in the Past analyses how footwear was consumed, retailed and produced in the eighteenth century. How many shoes were consumed? Who wore them? And what did the wearing of shoes mean in a society where part of the population walked barefoot? The book replies to such questions by showinghow the increasing availability of boots, sh...

Giorgio Riello is Research Officer in Global History at the London School of Economics where he is co-ordinating a research project entitled 'A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200-1800'. He has published on fashion, material culture and product innovation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He is currently editing with Pet...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.93 inPublished:May 4, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199292256

ISBN - 13:9780199292257

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Table of Contents

1. Stepping In: Fashion and Footwear2. Demand and Consumption3. Innovation and Tradition4. Shops and Shopping5. Artisans and Guilds6. Manufacturing and Subcontracting7. Continental Competition8. Towards Industrialization9. Stepping Out: Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

"Riello's fund of information, his thorough knowledge of the history of consumption, and his insistence that historians credit preindustrial business with more nuance and complexity, make this an important volume for all who study the early modern economic world."--Daryl M. Hafter, American Historical Review "A Foot in the Past is a fine example of the kind of wide-reaching revelations that the best kind of interdisciplinary work can produce."--Katharine Kittredge, Journal of British Studies