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Nineteenth century shopping in Ghent 

Using resources from the UGent library archives and Belgian photograph databases, the research project aims to visualize fashion consumption in Ghent in the mid-to-late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The UGent library archives store leaflets, business cards, catalogs, magazines, coupons, and other primary evidence that reveals how fashion houses and fashion consumption operated during this period in Ghent. The goal of Sam Bakker, Anna Dal Borgo, Margot de Gier, Suriya Guerzoni, and Ruoxin Hong is to pinpoint the locations and active periods of fashion houses and department stores that opened before the emergence of the Antwerp Six. With these addresses, the researchers can begin to gauge the layout of Ghent’s historical shopping strips and compare it to the city’s present-day geography.

 

One of their focal research interests is how the layout of the shopping street Veldstraat developed geographically, and how it compares to its layout today. An example of an active fashion house on Veldstraat from the early twentieth century is À l’Innovation, which also had a store in Brussels. We ask ourselves how such historical stores like À l’Innovation looked like, how they were accessed, and how the public in Ghent would interact with these houses to consume fashion. Moreover, they aspire to bring the addresses of smaller, lesser-known designers from Ghent to light and compare their geographical placement with the larger houses.

The visual representation will be in the form of a map, or a series of maps that take the active periods of each discovered fashion house or designer into account. This map will be available on the Fashioning Belgium website with accompanying pictures and image recreations of Ghent fashion houses.

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