Ireland and New York: identifying a ‘fashion place’

Figure 1. Hand painted lithography made in New York, entitled Chronological tree of Irish history (1876). The branches are inscribed with significant dates and events in Irish history from the first English invasion to 1876. On the left is Erin, the personification of Ireland, with harp and hound. A man, thought to be Daniel O’Connell, stands before her.

Introduction

New York has been constructed as one of the four most sensationalised fashion cities in the Western world. It is also a city which many Irish people have immigrated to throughout history, and is sometimes romanticised in Irish popular imagination; though this is not true for everyone. Additionally, Ireland is a place rarely discussed in terms of its importance to fashion, and the significance of Ireland’s fashion history is often overlooked. This means that it would be tempting, when following a dominant narrative structure, to buy into the notion that fashion influence only flows in one direction in this relationship. Conversely, I posit that the system is more fluid and mutually beneficial due to modern globalisation, meaning that fashion exists in less conventional places. This will be investigated through interview research. Furthermore, the romanticisation of place and fashion is tied up with geopolitical histories. My research will be grounded through various theoretical frameworks including those by Tim Cresswell in relation to place, Gilbert and Casadei’s evaluation of a model of fashion cities and Stuart Halls’ writing on diaspora.

The construction of New York as a dominant fashion city and the mediation of this into common narratives

Paris was long revered as the fashion capital of the world, London rose up as a stylish place in the 1960s with the opening of many boutiques. By the end of the 1980s, Milan and New York were also cemented in popular imagination as dominant fashion places. This narrative is westernised and highly biassed.

It was Greek philosophy which first depicted place as hugely important to the existence of identity for the entities within it. Cresswell explores Aristotle’s understanding of place as ‘the fundamental basis of existence for anything else. His logic was that for something to exist it had to be somewhere’ (Cresswell, 2015: 25). This is a view of place as a container which provides the setting for existence. Gilbert and Casadei note that cities are more than merely containers for fashion, and ‘that it might be better to shift toward thinking about, for example, fashion in the histories of cities, rather than the fashion histories in cities’ (2020: 401).

In order to define a fashion place, it is important to understand what constitutes our definition of this. For scholars, it is noted that the definition of a fashion city is elusive, yet it has clear ties to production, consumption and commodification. For Nathaniel Dafydd Beard, the city provides the space within which industrialisation, and the scaling up of fashion as a business model, can thrive. The modern fashion system ‘is used in the promotion of the economic and cultural vitality of a city. Fashion today is packaged and sold as a commodity, not only as a physical object, like a dress or a coat, but also as a cultural commodity used to promote a community, a city or a nation’ (Beard, 2011: 219). This pattern has been emerging within large cities since the late 20th Century, as the marketing of a distinct and oversimplified image of a place enables the commodification of it to prosper. The four dominant fashion capitals are problematically eurocentric and westernised; they focus on fashion consumption more than production, and create a mythologised idea around the genius of the designer. These places are, rather than a true centre of fashion innovation, just a stage. A stage upon which fashion can act as the spectacle.

In defining fashion cities, David Gilbert and Patrizia Casadei have utilised Nancy Green’s study, which has been illustrated in the diagram below. It is evident that New York has moved from being more closely associated with a place of manufacturing in the 1920s, to a place of design in recent decades. This shows movement since the time of its rising up to a dominant fashion city and a central space in defining modernity. Additionally there is a clear absence of Ireland on this model. This illustration is useful as it allows us to think through the complexly entwined interrelationships of fashion cities, and the ways in which a place’s relationship to fashion changes throughout time. Gilbert and Casadei note that fashion cities have established ‘flows of goods, ideas, money, as well as different kinds of people, including designers, entrepreneurs, in addition to skilled and exploited migrant labour’ (2020).

Figure 2. A diagram illustrating the construction of fashion cities in accordance with their relation to the ideals of manufacturing, design or symbolism within the global fashion system.

Through my own interview based research, I found that the idea of fashion conscious individuals existing in a place and having access to a wide variety of diverse styles is important. It was cited that ‘variety, different dress styles and people wanting to stand out from the crowd’ (appendix 1, 2022), as well as the desire for ‘people to express their different tastes’ (appendix 3, 2022), constitute a fashionable place. The postmodern idealistic notion of individuality in creating a sense of self, seems to be prevalent in enabling a place to be seen as fashion forward. The pursuit of individuality is often common in large metropolises. This is summarised by Meira Weiss in that ‘postmodernism defies monolithic definitions because it is multifaceted. It emphasises the legitimacy of otherness, while at the same time pathologizing, medicalising, demonising and criminalising the different’ (2003). Further to this, there exists the ‘dissolving boundaries of space–time as well as growing personal anonymity, of secularisation and fundamentalism’ (ibid). The whole construct is contradictory in that through striving for individualism, we actualise the death of the individual as a concept.

New York is one of the most diverse cities in the USA, in relation to ethnicity and language. Additionally, in leaning towards more liberal politics on the whole, New York generally fosters a diverse range of identity expression, including that of gender and sexuality, which is often coded through fashion as a language. In many ways, these factors benefit New York a wide variety in fashion styling in the everyday. Buckley and Clark note the way in which fashion became culturally embedded in the diversities of everyday life. Notably, within cities it has ‘created new spaces…but also stepped beyond the shop windows of elite stores to join ordinary lives’ (2017: 57).

In addition, cities tend to encompass a wide array of class stratas; Georg Simmel argued that class is imperative for the existence of fashion, as class imitation drives the system. Cities comprise the dominant and subordinate classes. This is often demonstrated in the design, manufacturing, consumption and symbolic communication of fashion in a particular place. For example, Florence on Nancy Green’s diagram, almost equally emcompasses all three factors illustrated. Capone and Lazzeretti note that this perception of Florence is carefully crafted via city branding. They note that fashion is an important aspect of communicating a city’s desired identity, to create the illusion of individuality of place (2016). This tactic is enacted in order to value a place as different on a global stage. This tells us that the construction of a fashion city is largely down to the conscious creation of a brand-like image cemented in popular imagination.

Ireland’s romanticisation of New York: geopolitics, immigration and America as the promised land

My investigation into whether New York exists as a romanticised fashion city in Irish popular imagination has begun with interviewing the research participants for this work, though a more conclusive answer would require a higher sample size. My research participants are Irish women who have lived in the UK for much of their adult lives, and have a perceived image of the USA and New York based on a combination of media intake, idiomatic storytelling and for one, a visit.

For two prominent reasons there exists a metaphorical tie between New York and Ireland as symbolic places, those are geopolitical relations and immigration. Broadly, it is noted that ‘Irish people have a strong tie to New York as most have family members living there who are living the dream. New York has always been welcoming to the Irish as they are hard workers and in my experience the Irish love New York as much as New York loves the Irish…Most of [the] NYPD have Irish surnames as they are second and third generation Irish’ (appendix 1, 2022).

Accounts detailing the geopolitical context of the two places tell us that ‘strong Irish Catholics blended the methodology and principles of Anglo-American Protestant politics with their overwhelming sense of community and gregarious personalities into a distinct brand of politics’ (Dunphy, 2013) with which American-Irish populations may relate today. Irish influence in American politics has been commonplace since the 19th Century, with the first Irish Mayor of New York elected in 1880 (ibid). Additionally, many US presidents have Irish ancestry, including John F Kennedy, George Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden (Irish Central, 2022). This runs both ways, as in a short telling of Irish history, Richard Killeen notes Ireland’s affinity for American economic and cultural patterns, in both building businesses and developing politics (2012: 302). For individuals, an attraction to Americanisms may be perpetuated through mythology created by idealism and media intake. One of my research participants noted, in visualising New York, a dream has been sold in Ireland in that ‘there is an image of everyone being nice and of no class status in the way Britain has. There is an idealistic feeling that you would always be rich and have all you want’ (appendix 3, 2022).

The establishment of a large and influential Irish community in New York took root following mass immigration fuelled by the potato famine of 1845. An Drochshaol, loosely translated to English as ‘hard times’, propelled the movement of people out of Ireland to settle in other lands, in search of a steady income in order to feed and house their families. A huge influx in Irish immigrants to the East coast of the US was seen during the Great Hunger of the late 19th Century. However sometimes their hopes of building a better life were not met, as many continued to live in poverty. Despite this, some were lucky enough to thrive, and these were usually the people who sent home stories and pictures of their successes, with thanks paid to the achieved American dream. For some, New York has become sentimentalised in Ireland in many ways. One of my interviewees concurs, ‘New York is romanticised in Ireland, the Irish have been immigrating to New York for centuries and have made good livings there…There are young people from every county in Ireland living in New York and making a good living’ (appendix 1, 2022).

It has been reported by the Irish museum of immigration that ‘since 1820, over six million Irish people have settled in the US. As a result, just under 10% of US residents claim Irish heritage today’ (EPIC, n.d.). This has resulted in Irish traditions and culture becoming embedded into American identity, for example through hosting large St. Patrick’s day celebrations, which are particularly revered in New York. It should be noted that not all Irish immigrants to the USA, UK, and other parts of the world were working class, nor migrating to escape poverty. It has been the tendency to depict Irish histories as though there were no middle class, but this is inaccurate. In the last two decades scholars have begun to acknowledge the impact of the Irish middle class around the world, and the influential positions of power those individuals often held (Foster, 2005: 12).

In my research I noted a theme of drawing on the close ties of Irish history existing in America on its own timeline through Irish diaspora, and a felt connection to place via ancestry (appendix 3, 2022). It was perceived that the relationship ran both ways between Ireland and the US, in that ‘Americans love Ireland and that makes Irish people more receptive’ (appendix 3, 2022) to maintaining a friendly connection. One participant noted that they actually see the romanticisation only flowing in the conceivably non-dominant direction, in that American people romanticise Ireland, rather than the other way around (appendix 2, 2022). This highlights the often overlooked power emanating from countries that have been impacted by British colonialism, as for centuries Irish people have not been depicted as influential players on a global scale. This is often disguised by the anglicisation of Ireland, meaning that overt ignorance is less obvious because there have been attempts to dilute Irish identity.

One research participant summarised their feelings about New York by stating ‘I love everything about New York, it’s the dream come true for Irish immigrants’ (appendix 1, 2022). This illustrates the conscious construction of the US and New York as the promised land for Irish citizens. This idealistic model has been solidified through the sending home of stories by relatives, which were shared amongst townsfolk in Ireland. The mythologising of America is described by Boling and Miller in that ‘the prevalent image of America in rural Ireland was based more on fancy than on “facts” and partook more of the attributes of mythology than of “reality”’ (1991: 55). Though, they make clear that myths are not the antithesis of truth, but rather a lens through which to seek a truthful image, and a package within which this can be disseminated (ibid). For those who had left their homes, they sought a method through which to make sense of this new place, and create a feeling of belonging.

Although, the Irish image of America is often simplified to fit a narrative pertaining to Irish sciolism. In fact, in my own research I found evidence of a yearning for the existence of the myth, but an acute knowledge that it is fictitious. These feelings were demonstrated by one of my interviewees, in a recollection of the ‘images of glamour and richness, of them loving and welcoming the Irish with open arms. This comes from listening to older people including relatives when I was young. They talked of people who had [immigrated] to New York, and made it sound like all problems were solved by going to live there…They made it feel like the land of plenty. I feel disappointed and sad that it’s just not true’ (appendix 3, 2022). This was taken further by one participant who opposes the dominant narrative entirely, and noted that they do not think of New York as influential in Irish culture nowadays, and nor do they believe New York is a fashionable place (appendix 2, 2022).

Ireland as a ‘fashion place’ and fashion for Irish immigrants and diaspora in New York

For my interviewees, conspicuous consumption, meaning consumption undertaken with the motive of enhancing one’s own status, and the availability of goods for purchase, were the prevailing factors in determining the ability of a place to be fashionable. The range of responses from my research participants were varied in considering whether Ireland or New York has a higher claim to being a place of fashion. For one, ‘Ireland is equally as fashionable as New York as clothes can be bought online from all over the world, also in more recent times some big worldwide fashion stores have opened in Ireland’ (appendix 1, 2022). For another, Ireland is more fashionable ‘as I think Irish people think more about how they present themselves to others’ (appendix 2, 2022). Whereas, the third participant concluded that Ireland is ‘way less [fashionable]. Mainly because of availability and cost and the fact that clothes are not as important as an expression of self to Irish people as they are to New Yorkers. Irish people are very down to earth and stripped back. New Yorkers [are] more about image and show and competition’ (appendix 3, 2022). Though each has responded with a contrasting answer in regards to whether Ireland is more, less or equally as fashionable as New York, this could be down to the unstable definition of fashion as each has taken a different factor to consider. The first concentrating on availability of goods, the second on the presentation of the true self, and the third on a combination of the two. 

A sense of place in the construction of being in fashion as a symbolic concept is very important. Geczy and Karaminas note that ‘the birth of fashion can be said to occur together with the birth of modernity. This makes fashion more than a consequence or complement of modernity. Rather it is the most specific manifestation of capitalism’s will-to-change.’ (2016: 82). This means that fashion systems thrive in hubs of modernity such as large and powerful cities, whereas this opportunity is not as easily accessible to more rural places or colonised countries. Also, fashion becomes fiscally important in the sustaining of cities as it is a strong economic force. However this does not negate the potential for interest and achievement in fashion from Irish individuals and groups, as well as the importance fashion holds to them in terms of personal identity construction or affiliation with their groups. 

My interviewees conclude that ‘rural places can be as fashionable as big cities in recent times. Most people buy their clothes online now, and can see the latest fashions on [the] internet, also most young people have cars now and can travel to cities to buy [the] latest fashions’ (appendix 1, 2022). Although one noted that those in rural places may find access to fashion harder because ‘there isn’t the variety of shops. Also jobs and work are not glamorous and more practical such as farming. So clothes [are] more practical. In small towns too people [are] not so willing to stand out’ (appendix 3, 2022). Formed by their lived experiences, two out of three of my research participants do frame Ireland as a fashionable place in their minds.

Despite this, fashion is culturally important in Ireland, in terms of economic structures as well as on an individual basis. Stuart ‘Hall’s politics of identity centres on three specific terms to which he repeatedly returns in essays of this period: difference, self-reflexivity and contingency. The politics of difference involves a recognition of the ‘many’ within the ‘one’ and a rejection of clear-cut binary oppositions that rigidly divide diverse communities into discrete unities’ (Procter, 2004: 119, emphasis in original). In a postmodern context, these three terms were not sufficient for Hall in the expression of difference within identity politics. He proposed the need for a politics of articulation which is ‘a means of linking or bringing together individuals to form new alliances…where in traditional identity politics such alliances were formed through an emphasis on unity and the suppression of difference, Hall prefers the idea of unities-in-difference’ (Procter, 2004: 121). Through this structure, Irish immigrants and diaspora in New York have been able to thrive in an American fashion system and create new threads of Irish fashion history.

An example of this is the Irish fashion house, Clodagh. Established in Dublin in 1955 by fashion designer Clodagh Phibbs from Co. Mayo. She was associated with other Irish fashion creators from the Irish Haute Couture Group, including Ib Jorgensen, Sybil Connolly, Neilli Mulcahy and Irene Gilbert (O’Loughlin, 2016). 

She moved her enterprise to New York City in the 1980s and expanded her design practice to include furniture and interiors. Clodagh did not move from a fashion-less place to a fashion-able place, but rather from one fashion place to another fashion place.

Karl Marx wrote of what he called the annihilation of space by time, which in postmodern times has gained further traction and been called time-space compression. This refers to ‘an increasing uncertainty about what we mean by ‘places’ and how we relate to them’ (Massey, 1991: 1). Doreen Massey elaborates in that this leads on to questioning what it is that we mean by places, and that the ‘time-space compression refers to movement and communication across space, to the geographical stretching-out of social relations, and to our experience of all this. The usual interpretation is that it results overwhelmingly from the actions of capital, and from its currently increasing internationalisation’ (1991: 2). 

Socioeconomic, geopolitical and personal links between New York and Ireland can be viewed through this framework, in that the notion of space-time compression can help us in ‘developing a politics of mobility and access. For it does seem that mobility, and control over mobility, both reflects and reinforces power. It is not simply a question of unequal distribution, that some people move more than others, and that some have more control than others. It is that the mobility and control of some groups can actively weaken other people…The time-space compression of some groups can undermine the power of others’ (Massey, 1991: 4). This is often evident in Ireland’s relation to global powers such as the USA or the UK. 

Conclusion

European and colonial, the white and the native, Ireland’s representation in popular imagination creates conflicts. Irish cultural theory can be used ‘to trace possible ‘Irelands’ which are normally outside its view’ (Graham, 2001: 155). As ‘culture is basically understood as a process of symbolic elaboration of stimuli, objects and cultural experiences’ (Nuzacci, 2020), this framework constitutes, in part, the evolving construction of the individual, as well as imagined senses of place promoted through city branding.

This research is very subjective in its exploration of Irish attitudes towards fashion, New York, Ireland and the fashion place as a concept. Irish culture and lived experience has an important part to play in the formation of the knowledge and opinions expressed by the participants. Some of this has been formed through their second-hand awareness of ‘how newcomers encountered America, successfully assimilated, yet retained their ethnic and cultural identity’ (Bayor and Meagher, 1996). 

It is evident that capitalist structures allow fashion to thrive, and these are prevalent in urban or cosmopolitan city spaces. Place provides the background in which fashion can be symbolically tied to belonging and constructing a sense of self.

In conclusion, place does not grant exclusivity in fashion, but it does provide ease of accessibility. In the postmodern era, place does not comprehensively define fashion, nor can fashion for place.


Bibliography

Bayor, R. and Meagher, T. (1996) The New York Irish. The John Hopkins University Press: London. 

Beard, N. (2011) Defining the Fashion City: Fashion Capital or Style Centre?. In: A. De Witt-Paul and M. Crouch, ed., Fashion Forward. [online] Oxford: BRILL, pp.219–232. Available at: <https://galaxy.hua.gr/~egeorg/publications/FashionForward1ever109132011.pdf&gt; [Accessed 19 April 2022].

Brady, C. (2012) Ireland: in the shadow of the fond abuser in Furtado, P (ed). Histories of Nations:  How their identities were forged. Thames and Hudson: London (pp. 55-72).

Boling, B. and Miller, K. (1991) Golden Streets, Bitter Tears: The Irish Image of America during the Era of Mass Migration. Journal of American Ethnic History, [online] Vol 10(1), pp.16-35. Available at: <https://www.jstor.org/stable/27500798&gt; [Accessed 20 April 2022].

Buckley, C. and Clark, H. (2017) Fashion and Everyday Life: London and New York. Bloomsbury: London.

Capone, F. and Lazzeretti, L. (2016) Fashion and city branding: An analysis of the perception of Florence as a fashion city. Journal of Global Fashion Marketing, 7(3), pp.166-180.

Clodagh Design. (n.d.) About. [online] Available at: <https://clodagh.com/about/clodagh/&gt; [Accessed 25 April 2022].

Cresswell, T. (2015) Place: An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons: Chichester.

Dunphy, S. (2013) ‘Solid Men’ – The Irish in New York Politics, 1880-1920 – The Irish Story. [online] Theirishstory.com. Available at: <https://www.theirishstory.com/2013/02/27/solid-men-the-irish-in-new-york-politics-1880-1920/#.Yl77BujMK5c&gt; [Accessed 19 April 2022].

Foster, R. F. (2005) ‘An Irish Power in London’: Making it in the Victorian Metropolis in Cullen, F and Foster, R. F. ‘Conquering England’: Ireland in Victorian London. National Portrait Gallery Publications: London (pp. 12-25)

Geczy, A. and Karaminas, V. (2016) Walter Benjamin: Fashion, Modernity and the City Street in Rocamora, A. and Smelik, A. Thinking Through Fashion. Bloomsbury: London (pp. 81-96).

Graham, C. (2001) Deconstructing Ireland: Identity, Theory, Culture. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh. 

Hall, S. (1990) Cultural Identity and Diaspora in J. Rutherford (Ed.), Identity:

Community, Culture, Difference (pp. 222-237). London: Lawrence & Wishart.

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin. (n.d.) How March became Irish-American Heritage Month. [online] Available at: <https://epicchq.com/story/how-march-became-irish-american-heritage-month/&gt; [Accessed 16 March 2022].

Gilbert, D., Casadei, P. (2020) The hunting of the fashion city: rethinking the relationship between fashion and the urban in the twenty-first century in Fashion Theory, Vol 21(3), pp. 393-408

Irish Central (2022) Celebrating the US presidents with Irish roots and connections. [online] Available at: <https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/us-presidents-irish-roots&gt; [Accessed 19 April 2022].

Killeen, R. (2012) Ireland: Land, People, History. Robinson: London.

Massey, D. (1991) A global sense of place in Marxism Today. June 1991 (pp. 24-29)

Nuzzaci, A. (2020) “Symbolic Mediation” in Alphabetical Processes: Cultural Heritages, Territories and Multiliteracies. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 8 (6).

O’Byrne, R. (2009) Style City: How London became a fashion capital. Frances Lincoln Ltd: London.

O’Loughlin, A. (2016) Lost Legend: Clodagh of Dublin’s unacknowledged acclaim. [online] Exquisite. Available at: <http://www.exquisite.ie/clodagh-dublin/&gt; [Accessed 25 April 2022].

Procter, J. (2004) Stuart Hall. Oxon: Routledge.

Simmel, G. (1957 [1904]) ‘Fashion’, American Journal of Sociology 62(6): 541-558.  

Weiss, M. (2003) The postmodern state and collective individualism: a comparative look at Israeli society and western consumer culture. The Social Science Journal, 40(2), pp.269-281.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Chronological Tree of Irish History (1978) in Furtado, P. (2012) Histories of Nations:  How their identities were forged. Thames and Hudson: London. 

Figure 2. Nancy Green’s work A conceptual model of fashion cities as a field… in Gilbert, D., Casadei, P. (2020) The hunting of the fashion city: rethinking the relationship between fashion and the urban in the twenty-first century in Fashion Theory, Vol 21(3), pp. 393-408.

Figure 3. 18 year old Cloddagh Phibbs designing in Dublin. (1956) in O’Loughlin, A. (2016) Lost Legend: Clodagh of Dublin’s unacknowledged acclaim. [online] Exquisite. Available at: <http://www.exquisite.ie/clodagh-dublin/&gt; [Accessed 25 April 2022].

Figure 4. A photograph of designer Clodagh and the team at her New York atelier. (n.d.) Clodagh Design. n.d. Studio. [online] Available at: <https://clodagh.com/about/clodagh/&gt; [Accessed 25 April 2022].


Appendices

Appendix 1: Interview Transcript

Interviewee: Anne Madigan

  1. Do you think of Ireland as a fashionable place, and why? Is your perception formed by your personal experience or by media images?

Yes, I think Ireland is a fashionable place, Irish people travel all over the world so get to see different fashion trends, also [the] internet has a lot to do with Ireland keeping up with fashion trends. My perception is based on personal experience.

  1. What image do you have in your mind of New York, and why? Is your perception formed by your personal experience or by media images? 

My image of New York is of a very fashionable place, everyone wants to stand out and be seen for their fashion sense. My perception is based on media images.

  1. Do you think of New York as a fashionable place?

 I do think New York is a very fashionable place.

  1. What makes a place fashionable?

I think what makes a place fashionable is variety, different dress styles and people wanting to stand out from the crowd with their dress sense.

  1. What influence does the image of New York have in Irish popular imagination?

The influence the image of New York has on Irish imagination  is based on TV shows, internet images and magazines.

  1. Is New York romanticised in Ireland? And what is your experience of this/how do you feel about it?

Yes I think New York is romanticised in Ireland, the Irish have been immigrating to New York for centuries and have made good living there, a lot of American presidents have Irish roots, second and third generation Irish make up a big part of [the] police force in America especially NYPD.  There are young people from every county in Ireland living in New York and making a good living. I love everything about New York, it’s the dream come true for Irish immigrants. 

  1. Can rural places be as fashionable as big cities?

Yes, rural places can be as fashionable as big cities in recent times. Most people buy their clothes online now, and can see the latest fashions on [the] internet, also most young people have cars now and can travel to cities to buy [the] latest fashion. 

  1. Is Ireland more, less or equally as fashionable as New York, and why?

I think Ireland is equally as fashionable as New York as clothes can be bought online from all over the world, also in more recent times some big world wide fashion stores have opened in Ireland.

  1. Do you think Irish people generally feel a strong tie to New York, and why?

Yes Irish people have a strong tie to New York as most have family members living there, who are living the dream. New York has always been welcoming to the Irish as they are hard workers and in my experience the Irish love New York as much as New York love the Irish. New York has the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world. Most of [the] NYPD have Irish surnames as they are second and third generation Irish. I ❤️ New York.

Appendix 2: Interview Transcript

Interviewee: Martina Madigan

  1. Do you think of Ireland as a fashionable place, and why? Is your perception formed by your personal experience or by media images?

Yes I do think of Ireland as fashionable, personal experience from when I visit. [The UK is much the same] as Ireland especially [as] cities have mostly the same clothing shops. 

  1. What image do you have in your mind of New York, and why? Is your perception formed by your personal experience or by media images? 

I don’t think New Yorkers are very up with fashion, very casual. [I have got this from] media images.

  1. Do you think of New York as a fashionable place?

No.

  1. What makes a place fashionable?

Trendy clothes, cafes, stores, etc.

  1. What influence does the image of New York have in Irish popular imagination?

I don’t think it has much influence on Ireland at all.

  1. Is New York romanticised in Ireland? And what is your experience of this/how do you feel about it?

No I don’t really think so. [It is] the other way around actually.

  1. Can rural places be as fashionable as big cities?

Yes they can, depends on age group of that certain area.

  1. Is Ireland more, less or equally as fashionable as New York, and why?

More, as I think Irish people think more about how they present themselves to others.

  1. Do you think Irish people generally feel a strong tie to New York, and why?

Yes for sure, as generations of Irish have settled in USA since the famine.

Appendix 3: Interview Transcript

Interviewee: Mary Hanlon

  1. Do you think of Ireland as a fashionable place, and why? Is your perception formed by your personal experience or by media images?

I feel like I have never considered Ireland a fashionable place except maybe Dublin, as [this] being a city I always felt there was more access to fashion. But not the rest of Ireland. It’s my personal experience from when I was a teenager. No one who lived in our town wore the clothes you saw in Jackie Mag.

  1. What image do you have in your mind of New York, and why? Is your perception formed by your personal experience or by media images? 

Images of everything being fun and film stars walking the streets. Images of glamour and richness, of them loving and welcoming the Irish with open arms. This comes from listening to older people including relatives when I was young. They talked of people who had emigrated to NY and made it sound like all problems were solved by going to live there. 

  1. Do you think of New York as a fashionable place?

Yes, very much so. 

  1. What makes a place fashionable?

I think one where people express their different tastes and look confident doing so. A place where although all have different tastes and some outlandish, they all seem to fit comfortably together.

  1.  What influence does the image of New York have in Irish popular imagination?

People will say ‘I got this in New York’, with a perception that it’s much better than anything you could get in Ireland. There is an image of [NY] style of being ahead in things. An image of imation being the right thing to do. An image of having succeeded [and] having arrived.

  1. Is New York romanticised in Ireland? And what is your experience of this/how do you feel about it?

I believe it is. It goes way back to early immigration where people who went to NY would send money home to help. There is an image of everyone being nice and of no class status in the way Britain has. There is an idealistic feeling that you would always be rich and have all you want. I think my experience is listening to older people when I was young. They made it feel like the land of plenty. I feel disappointed and sad that it’s just not true.

  1.  Can rural places be as fashionable as big cities?

I don’t think so as there isn’t the variety of shops. Also jobs and work are not glamorous and more practical such as farming. So clothes [are] more practical. In small towns too people [are] not so willing to stand out. So if most wear jeans and jumper others will also follow suit

  1. Is Ireland more, less or equally as fashionable as New York, and why?

Way less. Mainly because of availability and cost and the fact that clothes are not as important as an expression of self to Irish people as they are to NY. Irish people are very down to earth and stripped back. New Yorkers [are] more about image and show and competition.

  1.  Do you think Irish people generally feel a strong tie to New York, and why?

Yes they do as Americans love Ireland and that makes Irish people more receptive to NYs. Also [during] the famine many millions emigrated to America so they feel they have a connection through ancestors. 

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