Gender and Consumer Culture in France from the Late 1800’s Through the 1920’s

1324 Words Apr 29th, 2011 6 Pages
Today when consumer culture in France is thought of the first thing that come to mind is high end clothing, fancy jewelry, expensive boutiques, and who could forget Louis Vuitton. The consumer culture of today in France is geared towards high-style, well dressed women but this was not always the case. This culture has been many years coming. Many changes in this consumer culture came about in the time periods surrounding World War I. In this essay I will be tracing the change in women in the consumer culture in France in the late 1800’s to through the 1920’s, using the works of Mary Louise Roberts Samson and Delilah Revisited: The Politics of Woman’s Fashion in 1920’s France, and Judith G. Coffin’s Credit, Consumption, and Images of …show more content…
Appling to women through advertisements was not the only way that Singer tapped the female consumer market. They also changed the design of their machines. They changed the design from a bulky, ugly model with exposed gears, that could only be operated standing up, to a more female friendly model. Singer designed a new model with “curved iron legs, rounded the machine’s body, polished the finish, and added artistic touches” (Coffin 761). This converted the sewing machine from a clunky piece of machinery to a sleek feminine piece of furniture. This conversion was an important step towards gaining female approval. While Singer successfully tapped into the growing female consumer market a critical problem arose; many women of this period did not have the means to pay for such an expensive piece of “furniture”, so models costing as much as 400 francs (Coffin 761). The establishment of credit offered the working class women the ability to purchase the same items as women in the middle class (Coffin 755). This gave working women independence form factory working. These women could purchase a sewing machine on credit and work out of their home. This gave them the ability to work for who ever they places at what time they pleased (Coffin 756). This independence would shape the consumer industry in France for many years to come. Consumer Culture

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