Anticipations of the New Urban Cultural Economy: Fashion and the Transformation of London’s West End 1955–1975

Christopher Breward, David Gilbert

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

556 Downloads (Pure)


This essay is a distinctive response to urban creativity in London
during what might be described as the long 1960s. Here the emphasis is
neither on the 1960s as cultural revolution, nor on the period as another
twist in a long tradition of urban creative activity, but rather on the way in
which many of the elements of what has been described as the new cultural
economy of cities were anticipated in the developments of the period. Our
primary focus here reflects our interests and research into the development
of the fashion industry and broader fashion culture of the West End in the
post-war period, but our more general argument applies to a wider range
of cultural industries that developed in the city during the period. Examining
the history of London in the 1960s alongside consideration of the new
urban cultural economy literature can help to achieve three outcomes.
First, this analysis of the urban creative economy that developed in London
from the late-1950s onwards complicates what has become a dominant
reading of the periodisation of the interrelations between culture,
economy and certain key cities. We consider this periodisation model in
the following section. Secondly, ideas developed from the urban cultural
economy literature can contribute new perspectives to our understanding
of London in the 1960s. Finally, this exercise can also be used to reflect on
contemporary developments, indicating some of the specificities and limitations
of claims about contemporary urban creative sectors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreative Urban Milieus
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical Perspectives on Culture, Economy and the City
EditorsM Hessler, C Zimmermann
Place of PublicationFrankfurt and Chicago
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9783593385471
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Cultural economy
  • London
  • Fashion
  • 1960s
  • clustering
  • post-Fordism

Cite this