Fashion Matters Berlin: City-Spaces, Women's Working Lives, New Social Enterprise?

McRobbie, Angela. 2013. Fashion Matters Berlin: City-Spaces, Women's Working Lives, New Social Enterprise? Cultural Studies, 27(6), pp. 982-1010. ISSN 0950-2386 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Available, well-positioned urban space at relatively low cost has permitted the growth of a lively small-scale and independent fashion sector in Berlin, mostly female-led. These shops, workshops, boutiques and ‘ateliers’ have also benefited from support in the form of reduced rents for business start-ups (Zwischennutzung) and other provisions which encourage job creation and self-employment. Within and alongside the imperative to self-organise according to the requirements of contemporary entrepreneurial governance, different, proliferating forms of activity can be seen where there are co-operative and collaborative modes of ‘co-working’. Fashion design workshops in Berlin both subscribe to and undermine commercial imperatives, offering embedded forms of job creation where ethical fashion and urban regeneration enter into partnership. This article proceeds by ‘lifting out’ fashion design from current debates about creative economy where the specificities of this sector are often submerged, and, considering recent changes within the fashion industry per se, it offers some reflections, in a period of austerity and cuts to public spending, as well as high unemployment for young women, on the possibilities for localized practice within a neo-artisanal frame. The question of entrepreneurship understood within a broadly Foucauldian frame is interrupted on the basis of the tendency to homogenize and flatten practices within the terms of neo-liberal governmentality. By paying attention to the many multi-mediated associations, and networked arrangements where elements from an earlier tradition of feminist projects, third sector and not-for-profit activities can be drawn on, the assemblages of fashion emerge as a pathway for local growth, meaningful non-standard jobs and a merging of craft with ethical and sustainable practice.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Research Office > REF2014



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Date Deposited:

27 Sep 2013 07:12

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 14:44

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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