Evolution of American Fashion
New York City became the Fashion center of the nation as early as late 1700. First of all, it was always a transportation hub. Secondly,, there has always been a concentration of wealth. Thirdly, NYC developed into a manufacturing center, enabling the rise of ready-to-wear, thusly making stylish clothing available to all: rich to poor.
Word Bytes which define the evolution of American Fashion
Word Bytes which define the evolution of American Fashion: Innovation, Simplicity, Modernity, Functionality, Adaptability, Individuality, Comfort, Sportiness, Ease, and Suitability.
By mid-1850ís large Department Stores were established in NYC. Their scope and influence inadvertently created what was to become, in time, the American Fashion Scene. They introduced the first fashion shows, originally presented as opening days in the Spring and Fall. These same stores later birthed the iconic boutique trend. Stores such as Lord & Taylor were instrumental in the mass manufacturing of clothing, in developing ready-to-wear, and in the sponsorship of American Designers. Many famous stores such as Bergdorf Goodman began as custom tailoring establishments. Originally, the names of the designers were unknown to the public. They worked for the department stores, the department stores produced their clothes, and put the store label on the garments. By 1850Ēs Lord & Taylor was manufacturing some of its own womenís clothing. In 1907, the NY Times reported that American tailor-made clothing was being copied abroad. So a historical trend, America copying Paris fashion, was beginning to reverse itself. However, American Designers were not credited for their work until well into the 1930ís.
The big stores such as Franklin Simon, Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, B. Altmanís and Best & Co., Henri Bendel, and Macyís continued to sell European fashion along with their own labels. But, Hello, the American woman was only buying what suited her, her lifestyle and her taste. Eventually, Paris began to cater to American tastes.
Spring of 1932, American Designers were featured and named in a window
by Dorothy Shavers of Lord
& Taylor, thereby actively promoting American Designers. This was a
huge first. Stores began
placing ads in major newspapers with illustrations, and photos of designs carrying
the designers name. And of course, today, department stores not only
carry designer labels but also house boutiques of major fashion names:
Calvin Klein, Micheal Kors, Ralph Lauren, Anne Klein, Donna Karan, and
In the Spring of 1932, American Designers were featured and named in a window by Dorothy Shavers of Lord & Taylor, thereby actively promoting American Designers. This was a huge first. Stores began placing ads in major newspapers with illustrations, and photos of designs carrying the designers name. And of course, today, department stores not only carry designer labels but also house boutiques of major fashion names: Calvin Klein, Micheal Kors, Ralph Lauren, Anne Klein, Donna Karan, and others.
before during and after the World Wars had a huge impact on fashion and
design. Scarcity of materials, and the interruption of fashion
production in Europe resulted in a tremendous amount of innovation by
designers in America. Silhouettes became slimmer, hems shorter, and
the use of available fabrics cleverly and creatively worked.
Jackets were cropped and the midriff was bared at times. Thong sandals
first became fashionable during WWII due to shoemakers having to skimp
on leather! Nylon was developed by Dupont Co., and replaced silk for
parachutes. Nylon hosiery replaced silk hose but became very scarce
during the war causing women to resort to leg make-up! And you
thought that was new! Synthetics including rayon, latex, and spandex were
largely an American innovation born out of necessity. So were zippers!
Further, the uniforms and work clothes of the war eras such as jumpsuits
and bomber jackets were adopted and adapted by American fashion
designers. The great depression also influenced fashion. Movies became
the great escape from the difficulties facing Americans, and they
lost themselves in the fantasy and the glamour of the silver screen. The
look of those screen goddesses was coveted by American women and copied
to this day,
Beginning with colonial times, American women developed traits of independence, resourcefulness, and strength. From the beginning American women were a hardy bunch, they had to be. These traits have persevered, even as their role in society changed. From farming to child rearing and managing households, to significant roles outside the home in business, society, politics, and athletics; all impacted on what women wore.
American women became more independent, working outside the home and fighting for the right to vote and their place in the mainstream of society. American women became increasingly involved in social activism, and also increasingly involved in athletics. The suffragette suit appeared in 1909. It consisted of a jacket with lots of pockets ( for pamphlets), and a divided skirt with creases and cuffs just like a man's. It did not become popular but was actually quite avant garde. The shirt dress was more readily accepted and was the standard for many years because it was so adaptable to different situations. Designers had to deliver fashion which was adaptive and modern: pants, culottes, shorts playsuits, sundresses, simple and comfortable clothes women could work and play in. Ready-to-wear and sportswear became the mainstay of fashion in America. The big shoulders look of the 1980's is an example of how fashion announced another change in women's role. They were emerging as CEO's and powerful. Although, if we check out some old movies, those shoulder pads had appeared before.
American Fashion looks seminal
to the development of an individualistic
American Style: The Gibson
Girl, The 20ís Flapper, and The Hollywood Glamour Queen. To this
day those looks continue to influence American fashion in one way or
another. Romantic icons such as the cowboy, the rebellious youth, and
the rock star also
have deeply influenced the design of American fashion.