Conspicuous waste/conspicuous consumption: Tatler's fashion imaginary

Sallie Macnamara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This paper will discuss the fashion content of Tatler magazine to consider how it addresses its changing readership. Tatler, published by Conde Nast, sucessor to the original society and literary journal founded by Richard Steele in 1709, is the oldest magazine in the world. It has a total readership of 160,000 (Tatler Media Pack) but this is far exceeded by Conde Nast?s Vogue with 1,329,000 (Vogue Media Pack). Tatler remains popular, however, as it has the ?wealthiest readership of any magazine in the UK?. Traditionally it was the magazine for the UK?s wealthy elites featuring royalty, the aristocracy, and those with landed wealth. However, the social composition of the country has changed over the past century as many lost power and land. British ruling elites have always adapted to challenges, as new money, either from business or overseas, has been assimilated through marriage or investment. In terms of global markets, this period has seen British high street fashion grow and to become market leaders with the development of cheaper designer and celebrity fashion lines (HM, Topshop, River Island) as well as online (ASOS) all competing with the dominant traditional fashion houses. In the context of the changing social formation, the further democratisation(?) of fashion, the possibility of instant gratification, how does Tatler negotiate class and fashion and its changing readership? Does it maintain a sense of exclusivity through a focus on designer labels? Reference will be made to fashion spreads, models and stylists, to consider the role fashion and style has played in maintaining its status. Linked to this is the dissemination of notions of taste and how constructs of good and bad taste.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational conference Fashion Tales 2015, Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy.
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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