There are a number of reasons for this silence. In relation to fashion, many writers have pointed to how an ‘old style’ leftism is suspicious, even contemptuous, of fashion and indeed popular culture, seeing these as essentially transient phenomena. Even within the elaborated field of film studies (which has occupied the canonical place in the contemporary study of culture), there has been a reticence to consider the significance and pleasures of costume. As Church Gibson (1998) has poignantly observed:

Only in the last decade or so has fashion really established itself as a serious academic discipline and as an important area of theoretical debate. The reasons, of course, are well documented: the centuriesold belief in the essential frivolity of fashion, reinforced by the puritanism of many on the left, for whom fashion is the most obvious and . . . objectionable form of commodity fetishism, and the conviction of the majority of second-wave feminists that fashion is an arena in which women . . . display themselves in order to gratify male desire.1