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A twist in the retail: The rise, fall and re-emergence of Budapest as a fashion city

by Katalin Medvedev

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Although the traditional focus in fashion studies on Western Europe and America has been widely critiqued, the examination of what influences and major institutions were critical in the diffusion of fashion in Eastern and Central Europe is still limited. To counter this drawback, this study charts the history of the development of fashion and fashion retailing in one Eastern Central European capital, Budapest, Hungary, from the early nineteenth century until the late 1960s. It brings to light that even though Budapest does not register as an important European fashion centre among western fashion scholars, the city had a steadily growing fashion production, consumption and retail scene in Eastern-Central Europe from the early nineteenth century until the Second World War, and again from the late 1960s onwards. It explores the ideological, political, and economic reasons fashion and its supporting retail scene disappeared in Hungary after the communist takeover in 1948 and discusses what led to their gradual comeback following the 1956 Uprising against Soviet-style totalitarian dictatorship and the introduction of the New Economic Mechanism in 1968.

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