Is it obvious to state that a wearer’s fashion choices result from a complex mixture of personal, local–social and international influences? What if I say the same was true for consumers in rural eighteenth-century Scotland? Contemporary fashion communities sometimes idealize and demonize their past: the idyllic time before mass consumption, the horrors of industrialization. In reality fashion systems and decisions were as complex then as they are now, what has changed is speed, scale, and environmental awareness. This article will seek to reassess notions of what came before globalization by considering fashion localism in history. Two case studies based on analysis of garments from eighteenth-century Scotland will offer insight into the complex world of the historic consumer, looking at how fashionable engagement interacted with places, people, and time frames. The studies will illustrate how our contemporary notions of localism are reflected within historic examples, and will seek to show how past positive consumerism could benefit fashion systems today. Discussion will reveal how localism was embedded in eighteenth-century fashionable consumption and intertwined with inclusive outlooks, so that local values and attributes mingled with multinational style.
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