From the middle of the 19th century, fashionable garments for women, which had previously been restricted largely to the wealthy social classes, began to become much more widely accessible in society. Many factors contributed towards this change, including the invention of the domestic sewing machine, the growing popularity of the ‘fashion magazine’, the introduction of department stores and the development of ready-made fashions, as heralded in particular by Charles Worth. However, an element that had an especially profound influence on this democratisation process was the discovery of synthetic textile dyes and their rapid industrial development, initiated famously by William Perkin’s Mauveine, which resulted in the availability of a wide range of new bright colours for use in garment coloration. This paper contextualises the influence of the commercial introduction of these dyes in the mid 19th century on the adoption of fashionable dress by a much wider section of the general population.
Vettese-Forster, S., & Christie, R. M. (2013). The significance of the introduction of synthetic dyes in the mid 19th century on the democratisation of western fashion. Journal of the International Colour Association, 11, 1-17