Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Britain's On The International Fashion Map

The lead in bringing this about was given by Mary Quant, her name is synonymous with 1960s fashion. By 1966 Quant's designs initiated a look for the newly emerging teen-and-twenties market enabling young women to establish their own identity and put Britain on the international fashion map. London girls who were not much older than herself couldn’t wait to purchase Quant's new daring short mini skirt. It was believed that the trend took off so well because of it being so different only the youth could pull it off without any controversy particularly amongst adults.

Quant did not study fashion; following parental advice she enrolled in an Art Teacher's Diploma course at Goldsmith's College, London University, but she was not committed to teaching. In the evenings she went to pattern cutting classes. Her fashion career began in 1955, in the workrooms of the London milliner, Erik, the same year she opened her boutique, Bazaar in King's Road, Chelsea, in partnership with her future husband, Alexander Plunket-Greene. 
( Quant's boutique Bazaar)

The idea was to give the so-called Chelsea Set "a bouillabaisse of clothes and accessories." Quant was the buyer, but she soon found the kinds of clothes she wanted were not available. The solution was obvious, but not easy—21 years old, with little fashion experience, Quant started manufacturing from her home. Using revamped Butterick patterns and fabrics bought retail at Harrods, 
( Butterick patterns )
she created a look for the Chelsea girl. Her customers were hardly younger than herself and she knew what they wanted; her ideas took off in a big way, on both sides of the Atlantic. She brought her materails over the counter at Harrords because she didnt even know that they could be obtained wholesale. She had to sell one day's output of dresses, made in her bedsitter by a few sewing women with few hastily-acquired machines all against the regulations, but that was another thing she didnt know, before she could by the next day's materials. 
Americans loved the London Look, so much so that in 1957 Quant signed a contract with J.C. Penney to create clothes and underwear for the wholesale market. American coordinates convinced her that separates were versatile and ideal for the young. To reach more of the British market in 1958 she launched the Ginger Group, a mass-produced version of the look, with U.S. manufacturer Steinberg's. In the same year she was nominated as Woman of the Year in Britain and the Sunday Times in London gave her its International Fashion award.

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