Chic Streets: Urban Development, Shopping, and the American Fashion Industry

This pink chiffon evening gown was made in LA and sold in Beverly Hills at I. Magnin

This heavily embellished, pink chiffon evening gown was made in LA at the New Hampshire Boulevard store of I. Magnin

My second book is a historical inquiry into the evolving relationships between those who make, sell, and buy fashion. Chic Streets looks at Fifth Avenue, Lincoln Road, and Rodeo Drive as centers for the production, retailing, and consumption of high-end clothing. The book considers these elite locales in actuality and influence. That is, how did retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Burdine’s, and Giorgio of Beverly Hills shape what was sold in department stores around the country?

Chic Streets identifies three characteristics of the streets that allowed them to become centers of America fashion. First, the streets had a supportive government and Chamber of Commerce to promote the area in the national press. Secondly, the streets are in the top three cities for clothing production in the United States, so there was plenty of supply. Third, each city had a strong tourist trade. This encouraged production, and gave retailers an unending crop of vacationing buyers, whose new ensembles made quite a splash at home.

For sources, I use both archival documents and material culture. These include: city government papers; business records of manufacturers and department stores; oral histories of retail executives such as Andrew Goodman; and—best of all— the garments themselves.