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to think the rise of the washing machine is linked to the rise of clothes shops and fashion

(12 Posts)
Orlantina Mon 03-Apr-17 22:51:55

Bear with me.....

So in the old days, most people either washed their own clothes or had staff to wash them for them. It took a long time to wash clothes so most people probably didn't have many clothes except for their Sunday best.....

Cue the washing machine. Clean clothes, easy to wash and that means you had more than 2 choices.

With choice comes people wanting to sell you things such as clothes grin

Just imagine a world with no washing machines. I know that's the reality for many people - and I am sure there are people on here as well who don't have one.

(linked to this programme about TV dinners and the modern economy)

Haffiana Mon 03-Apr-17 23:14:50

They had plenty of fashion before washing machines. People had few clothes if they could not afford them certainly, but anyway most people made their own or ordered them from a seamstress. The rise of clothes shops is linked to the rise of mass-making of garments lovally and overseas and the demise of seamstresses.

The rise of the washing machine is surely simply a response to the need for a labour saving device. My own mother used to wash everything by hand when she was young because washing machines were few, far between and expensive.

Haffiana Mon 03-Apr-17 23:15:19


liverpoolsfun Tue 04-Apr-17 10:09:48

Probably more the knock on effect of owning labour saving machines. It has meant that women are able to enter the work place, earn their own money and buy more clothers.
A hundred years ago washing and house work were so time and effort consuming that girls were kept off school on Mondays to help with the work.

Tobuyornot99 Tue 04-Apr-17 10:14:57

I think you have a point. My Nan used to do the families laundry in her teen years. The boys all had one shirt and 5 clip on collars that would be changed daily. When they got a twin tub the boys all expected a clean shirt every day.
I do agree with pp also though, more money / women working outide the home etc has impacted.
And clothes are so, so cheap now. 20 years ago a decent child's coat cost £20, it still does now, but cheaper ones can be found for £6 or so, when you factor in inflation that's a huge difference

Orlantina Tue 04-Apr-17 10:18:56

Of course there are other factors! It was just quite interesting when I heard this as part of the discussion - washing machines meant that it was easier and quicker to wash clothes - interestingly that led to people having more clothes to wash and so the time saved on washing the clothes by machine instead of hand was replaced by people buying more clothes and expecting more clothes to be washed by machine grin

SheepyFun Tue 04-Apr-17 10:22:33

I've lived in a country where washing machines are rare. I paid someone to do my laundry, but most women spent hours every week washing. I am very grateful not to have to do that. If you want to see just what a difference a washing machine can make to a family, see

Disposable fashion is far from ideal from an environmental point of view, but a washing machine buys freedom, freedom to do better things with your time - I'm definitely not giving up mine any time soon!

eddiemairswife Tue 04-Apr-17 10:25:08

I think it's a lot to do with clothes being so cheap. I used to make all my own summer dresses years ago, because it was cheaper than buying them, but that's not the case today.

MadameCholetsDirtySecret Tue 04-Apr-17 10:30:39

Both are consumable products which have both become more affordable due to cheaper manufacturing costs, higher disposable income and availability of credit. It is the same with lots of things - fridges, TVs, toiletries, cars etc. I don't think it is a particular link in this case.

BarbaraofSeville Tue 04-Apr-17 10:42:14

Both are an example of the effects of mass production and increasing disposable incomes. But correlation does not equate to causation.

Amusingly illustrated here.

halcyondays Tue 04-Apr-17 10:53:39

Clothes are a lot cheaper than they were even 25 years ago. No doubt people do wash clothes more with a washing machine than if they had to do it by hand ,I doubt many would be changing pjs daily without a washing machine.

Littledidsheknow Tue 04-Apr-17 11:02:57

The rise of the washing machine was surely approx 60 years ago!
Also, if washing took such a long time back then, that would be the time to have more clothes, not fewer? People didnt, though, as clothes were handmade and expensive.
The fact we can get things clean quickly now should mean we need less clothing as the turnaround is so quick?

I think cheap mass production of clothes has driven the rise of clothes shops and fashion.
As a pp said, it is no longer cheaper to make your own clothes either; fabric for sewing or yarn for knitting are very expensive.

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