How did location, geography or trade influence fashion during the Late Middle Ages?
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During the Late Middle Ages the Crusades actually helped expand the political and geographical networks between Eastern and Western Europe despite of the loss of life that they also caused. The Crusades were planned to invade and conquer but, at the same time, new gates opened up to places, styles, and cultures never explored before.
After the conquest of Palestine, the variety and wealth of the country influenced fashion greatly, especially after so many Crusaders, their Lords, and their families comfortably established themselves there. As a result, a new harbor was opened for commerce. In this Mediterranean area new republics began to form in what is now Italy. The formation of a republic brings with it the need to establish trade as part of its sustenance. This means even more trade harbors where textiles made for wardrobe will not only be exchanged, but also influenced. This was done through the integration of new colors in the textiles and styles created after the unique fashions of the specific country.
Both the old and the modern world have the same tendencies to communicate new findings and start trends. The trends set up by the different materials now available allowed men and women to become inspired enough to integrate these new accessories and styles into their daily lives.
The evidence of this is the exchange of new spices, perfumes, and metals from the Eastern to Western Europe. Spices such as curry, coriander, cloves, and cumin were integrated into the Western diet slowly as they continued to be experimented with. The same happened with wines and ales, wool, and even waxes brought in from England. The trade routes were constantly busy and in consistent multicultural exchange, whether they realized it or not.
The negative factors, however, were based on the safety and security of the travelers that had to disperse the new material, the state of the roads that were needed travel to load and unload the merchant ships, and the taxation and fines still imposed by the feudal system upon any kind of merchant. All these problems led to the foundation of guilds to promote unity and safety among the working classes.
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