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Middle 19th Century to Late 20th Century

Technology evolved more rapidly during the 19th and 20th.  centuries, and communication mediums became more niche focused. 

  • By the second half of the 19th century, magazines were targeted to readers with specific interests (Tortora & Eicher, 2015). For example, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar dedicated their issues to fashion.

  • The sewing machine helped the ready-to-wear industry expand. The invention and production of the sewing machine as well as aniline dyes (powdered dyes), transformed the nature of the fashion industry. The sewing machines could sew approximately 900 stitches per minute, reducing manufacturing costs and increasing the number of pieces of clothing owned by consumers (Tortora & Eubank, 2010). 

    • The Singer Company, founded by Isaac Singer in the 1850s, marketed specific versions for domestic use (Tortora & Eubank, 2010). Isaac Singer introduced the electric sewing machine in 1889 and the computer-controlled machine in 1978 (Tortora & Eubank, 2010).

  • Printed color drawings replaced hand-colored fashion plates* in 1883, but color did not emerge in drawings in magazines until the 1930’s (Tortora & Eicher, 2015). 

  • Photographs became more important as technologies for printing photographs advanced. Advances in the technologies for printing photographs influenced the change to color print photography in the 1940’s (Tortora & Eicher, 2015).

  • As more advanced technology revolutionized mass media, media relationships became more important. Twentieth-century fashion magazine editors created and maintained symbiotic relationships with the fashion industry. The publicity provided by magazines and journals effectively helped brands and designers increase sales and, therefore, strengthened their reliance on the media. A feature in a fashion magazine induces new trends like Christian Dior’s “new look.”

  • The use of motion pictures in the industry had its beginnings in the 1890’s, including the use of film for fashion shows (Tortora & Eicher, 2015). A few designers and brands began to build movie storylines into their fashion shows. Poiret, a French fashion designer in the first two decades of the twentieth century, used film as a medium to show his current creations from 1910 to 1913 (Tortora & Eicher, 2015). International newsreels also included coverage of the French fashion shows. By the 1930’s, the motion picture industry developed as a style leader in fashion (Gundle, 2003). Actors and actresses influenced and created specific trends by wearing clothing and accessories in films.

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