Sunday, February 27, 2011

the 1930s: the American fashion industry during the Great Depression.

Recently, I received "New York Fashion: The Evolution of American Style" in the mail. This 303 page fashion bible takes the reader through each decade of American fashion. Though America did not see its first fashion week until 1943, the 1930s began with the Great Depression that would influence nearly every aspect of fashion. Not only did hemlines drop, there was also a transformation of American fashion into a real force. In comparison with the flapper of the 1920s, the typical woman of the 1930s was older, more sophisticated and much less carefree.

Fortunately, the American fashion industry excelled in mass production, and department stores that catered to every price level emerged. By the end of the decade, women designers controlled the industry. Though, this is no surprise because no one knows a woman's body better than herself, which made it easy to understand the movement of their designs.

Designers also had to innovate when using fabrics because of the decline of the economy. Simple, ordinary fabrics that had previously been considered inappropriate for couture were used, and textile manufacturers implemented man-made materials. Artificial silk became popular in lingerie and nightgowns. Designers used printed or textured silks to disguise that real silk was not used.

Fashion has always existed even in dire times. If anything, these times are more essential to the fashion industry because designers, manufacturers and consumers must innovate new ideas. 

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