Selling and Consuming Modern Life

Andrew Gordon

in Fabricating Consumers

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780520267855
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950313 | DOI:
Selling and Consuming Modern Life

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This chapter shows that women and men in Japan defined their nation through cultural battles, including one over the merits of machine-made Western dress versus the hand-stitched kimono. The Singer Corporation established itself as a pioneer in selling mass-produced, brand-name goods in Japan. The use of a sophisticated economic vocabulary was one remarkable aspect of its appeal to women in Japan. Singer marketed the sewing machine in Japan as an emblem of modernity in two senses: That of rational investment on the one hand; and of freedom, style, and the pursuit of Western-linked pleasure on the other. Japanese-ness for women had meaning beyond skilled and nimble fingers. The dress debates only sharpened the sense of separation between styles marked as “Western” and “Japanese.” The appappa spread first in the Osaka region, both by word of mouth and vigorous promotion by magazines such as The Lady's Companion.

Keywords: Singer Corporation; Japan; kimono; appappa; Japanese-ness; sewing machine

Chapter.  13539 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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