Fashion World

April 14, 1971

Report Outline
Wide Diversity of Current Fashions
Fashion for the Elite and the Masses
Sociology and Psychology of Clothes
Future Role of Fashion in Society
Special Focus

Wide Diversity of Current Fashions

Fashions in clothing, it is said, reflect the spirit of the times. Political commentators and sociologists describe the United States today as confused and divided; Americans, they add, suffer from an identity crisis and yearn for leadership as they rebel against it. All these observations apply equally well to the current chaotic state of fashion. Rudi Gernreich, the West Coast designer who introduced the topless bathing suit, goes so far as to assert that “fashion will go out of fashion.” For long-haired, jeans-clad young people, it already has.

Much of the trouble stems from the fact that the fashion industry is accustomed to dictating changes in clothing styles to a meekly submissive public. In recent years, though, the public has mutinied. American women overwhelmingly rejected the midiskirt and seem uninterested so far in the various echoes of 1930s and 1940s styles that highlighted the spring Paris couturier collections. The current rage for pants suits and “hotpants” may, clothing manufacturers fear, turn out to be more fad than fashion. As a result, the garment industry is unsure of what to produce and women are unsure of what to buy.

Uncertainty prevails also in men's fashion. Fewer suits are being sold today than in the depths of the Depression, but sales of slacks and casual wear have been booming. More significantly, the century and a half of drab male fashions ushered in by the French Revolution appears to have been succeeded by a “peacock revolution” of colorful apparel and bold styling. But American men, like women, have turned their backs on styles they consider unbecoming. Notable casualties in menswear over the past few seasons include the Nehru jacket and the whole range of mod clothing imported from London's Carnaby Street boutiques.

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