Schleppers and Shoppers: Jews, Street Markets, and the Selling of Ready-to-Wear Fashion in London in the 1920’s and 1930’s

Judith Walkowitz, Johns Hopkins University

Thursday, September 27, 5:00 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery
Judith Walkowitz, Johns Hopkins University
“Schleppers and Shoppers: Jews, Street Markets, and the Selling of Ready-to-Wear Fashion in London in the 1920’s and 1930’s”

Humanities Forum
Annual Robert K. Webb History Department Lecture

“Schleppers and Shoppers” spotlights a Jewish street market that emerged as the cutting edge retail space for mass market fashion in the West End. Whereas journalists described the smartly-dressed, fast-talking shop assistants locally known as  “schleppers,” and the working-class female patrons they pulled into gown shops as straying from the class codes and styles of established English culture, Jewish Sohoites told hilarious tales of the “schlepper” as a Jewish street character, alternately resembling a red hot mama and a flashily dressed fellow emulating the dress of celluloid gangsters. Their memories recall a safe and modern space of ethnic settlement, simultaneously tied to Soho’s irregular world of sex, crime, and entertainment.

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