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Fashioning Global Trade: Indian Textiles, Gender Meanings And European Consumers, 1500–1800

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the dialogue on cotton's role in global trade by exploring our understanding of fashion in economic history and by analysing the long-term influence of Indian cottons on Europe's markets and people. It examines the particular consumerism expressed by men from the middling classes through to the elites. The marketplace resounded with the demands of men as consumers and, though they have been less often studied as an explicit driver of commerce, their appetites for Asian wares were instrumental in shaping a new consumerism. The introduction of the 'banyan' into Western male wardrobes provides another telling example of the ways in which new gender consumer priorities figured in the development of trade with India. The gendered practices of a cross-section of Western men offer an important case study of the reception and significance attached to new goods and the gendered cultural forces that shaped the trade in cottons.

Keywords: banyan; consumerism; Europe's markets; gender consumer; global trade; Indian cottons



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