This essay explores the practicalities of making and buying clothing in early modern Florence. Drawing on the household accounts of families associated with the Medici court, together with a range of other archival sources, the essay uncovers complex patterns of interaction between consumers, artisans, and retailers. Such networks were fundamental to the way dress fashions developed and achieved wider diffusion during this period. Wealthy Florentines closely supervised the many different stages involved in the acquisition of clothing, often drawing on expertise they had accumulated as silk merchants and as agents purchasing goods on behalf of others. Buying clothing was also a strongly gendered pursuit, shaped by contemporary views of women's domestic roles. Despite the influence exercised by consumers, members of the clothing trade played a significant part in promoting change in fashions. In particular, tailors and mercers became known for their ability to create new designs and offer novel products.

You do not currently have access to this content.