Rural spaces have often been overlooked in contemporary fashion scholarship. Academic analysis of modernity has diminished the significance of the rural and has frequently kept separate the rural and the urban. The focus within scholarly... more
Rural spaces have often been overlooked in contemporary fashion scholarship. Academic analysis of modernity has diminished the significance of the rural and has frequently kept separate the rural and the urban. The focus within scholarly study has tended towards an alliance between the ‘un-naturalness’ of the city and the ‘un-naturalness’ of fashion, informed by the (non-verbal) codes and conventions that define social and cultural meaning within urban centres. This article suggests that the discipline of fashion theory is currently limited by a metro-centric bias and proposes the ‘field as mall’ as an example of an alternative space of fashion. This proposition, which literally focuses upon open fields that are temporarily transformed into urban ‘mall-like’ spaces, disrupts the problematic construct of the rural–urban divide. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article presents a sociological analysis of retailing, consumption and the phenomenon of the ‘pop up’ shopping village at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, England. It is argued here that this event is positioned between the rural and the urban, complicating the familiar urban–rural divide by locating aspects of the urban within the rural and the rural within the urban. Furthermore, we contend that the discourses of fashion (from the products on sale through to the symbolic significance of the geographical setting in which this event takes place) evidenced at this site complicates rural and urban relationships. Thus we call here for a re-evaluation of the rural in, for and by fashion scholarship.