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Title: The fashion choices of expatriate Western women in Hong Kong, from 1960 to 1997
Author: Wilson Trower, Valerie Pamela
ISNI:       0000 0004 2679 6625
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis examines the construction of identities through dress by expatriate Western women in Hong Kong between 1960 and 1997. Tracing a history of production, mediation, retailing, and consumption, it forms the first comprehensive examination of Hong Kong fashion during the period. In thirtyseven years Hong Kong developed and consolidated its position as a garment, and then fashion manufacturer and exporter, manufacturing a succession of merchandise demanded by international customers, and weathering the surges and slackening of global demand unmitigated by government controls. This complex industry formed the context for the paucity of fashion choice for a select group of expatriate Western women residents. In this thesis I show how for this specific group, even with initial hegemonic status, dress remained problematic until they appropriated regional ethnic dress, not as a manifestation of Oriental ism, but to enable them to comply with local conservative fashion norms in a situation, which they believed lacked recognised fashion leadership. In addition, they learned to manifest unique identities through dress, which in time, they transposed to their home countries. Conservative fashion dress included: tailoring; the cheongsam; the sari; the ao-dai; and Thai fishermen's pants amongst other items, forming extensive collections of garments curated by informants and used as a means to display familiarity with the host community to compatriots and in their home countries. As I show in this thesis, contrary to the precepts of Orientalism, it was not possible to live in Asia and retain an Orientalist viewpoint: increasing familiarity with the strange facilitated experimentation with regional dress in an attempt to maintain a hegemony of difference from the host community who rapidly appropriated Western designer fashion clothing during the period. As the exotic became everyday, individuality became increasingly personalised. This thesis investigates the complexities of the appropriation of ethnic dress; the nature of traded dress; 'binge shopping;' comfort clothing; and women's tailoring, as means of demonstrating identities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Fashion History & Theory