A post by Jennifer Sweetapple, Masters student on the University’s Art History: Dress & Textile Histories programme.
The Victorian era featured the rise of the new middle class, a social circle between the bourgeois and poverty that acted as a wealthy working-class, but without women needing to work to help finance the household. These were the women who shopped for luxury goods at department stores and paid strict attention to social standard and status symbols to keep themselves as part of high society.
The Army & Navy Co-operative Society Ltd catered to this social class, selling necessities such as groceries but also accessories that acted as a sign of opulence. Circulars from their stores indicate what they sold and what could be afforded by those who shopped there. While they competed with other London department stores, Army & Navy was initially for military families only, and whilst it was never…
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