Page 1







1960 Issue 1.














The years following World War II left Britain indebted to the US for billions of pounds, however after overcoming a short recession in 1960-1961, the country began to leave behind the collapsed version of England and welcome a new modern age. With this in mind, it is interesting to examine what the key drivers of fashion trends were during this time, as many pivotal cultural, technological and social transformations took place. The power of the youth in the 1960s can be seen as a fundamental demographic factor that drove fashion trends throughout the decade; the post-war ‘baby boom’ had increased the number of 15-

19 year olds from 6.5% in 1955 to a peak of just under 8% in 1964, allowing the “first children of the Age of Mass Communication” to come of age (Whiteley, 1987: 87). Along with this, a steady economic growth and a growth in the rate of employment can also be seen as major driving forces of lifestyle trends during the period. The rate of unemployment never exceeded 2.8% within the decade (Government Statistical Service, 1996) and in 1965 the percentage of people unemployed was around 1.5% (Bray, 2015), this meant that people had more money to spend on leisure, clothing and music.





During the sixties a youthful, rebellious, working-class group of male teenagers arose from the creative hub of London and soon became the Mods. According to scholars Stuart Hall and Dick Hebdige (1975) quoted in (Feldman 2009: 5), a Mod could originally be seen as “British, working-class and male” however Feldman (2009: 5) explained that this then grew into something much more, “an international youth movement of streamlined style and forward thinking idealism”. The Mods took over the previously dull and ugly working-class areas of London with brightly coloured clothing, stereos and modern Italian scooters, focusing on youth and innovation rather than class systems, which Britain was once obsessed with. Although until 1968 racism was still legal (Roberts, 2001), the Mods chose to focus on youth over this social equality issue. Their subculture was not only filled with a Britishborn, white community, it instead included immigrants from African America and West India, meaning that there was a huge opportunity to adopt trends from other countries. An example of this was shown when Caribbean men attended nightclubs in Soho London, as this allowed Mods from that area of London to be introduced to the shortbrimmed pork-pie hats, which they then integrated into their own style (Feldman, 2009).

Successful womenswear designer Mary Quant believed that fashion should be a “reflection of society” (Whiteley, 1987: 95), and with youth being a huge part of society at the time, so was youthful clothing. The ‘Chelsea Set’ designer was the leader of the remarkable success of the British fashion industry during the sixties (Quant, 1966) and was applauded by the Sunday Times in 1963 for “Jolting England out of Her Conventional Attitude Towards Clothes” (Whiteley, 1987: 95). 1959 Vogue stated that ‘young’ was “becoming the persuasive adjective for all fashions, hairstyles and ways of life” (Howell, 1975: 278) and following this theory was Quant, designing clothing that made women feel and look young, even if they weren’t. The British designer was innovative and creative with her designs; rejecting the 1920’s ‘New Look’ and instead designing clothing that was “much more for life, much more for real people, much more for being young and alive in” ( uk, 2015). Baby doll dresses; buckled Mary Jane shoes and fun co-ords combined with gingham, tartan, flannel, spots and stripes are just some of the womenswear styles that defined the decade and targeted the affluent teenage market (Sandbrook, 2006).



FIGURE 7: André Courrèges 1964 S/S


A number of world events dominated the 1960s and affected not only fashion, but also furniture, toys, cinema and film. From the despair of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Protests, and the assassination of the US President John F Kennedy, to the Summer of Love 1967 and the first man on the moon, the sixties included a complete juxtaposition of events having a range of implications on a global scale. A world event and a pivotal technological development of the post-war years was the race between Soviet and American scientists to successfully land the first man on the moon and return him safely. Although images of space had percolated through children’s toys, comics, architecture and furniture, its impact on fashion was monumental. Metallic fabrics, PVC, silver boots, goggles and helmets were all elements that helped to create the “uniforms of tomorrow” (vam., 2015), and reinforce the

youthful, modernistic approach of the decade. Although the first man did not walk on the moon until 1969, the effects of space on fashion were imminent from early on in the decade. Quant brought out a rainwear range in 1965 that was heavily influenced by the race, and in 1965, after two years of research and experimentation, the use of PVC was described as the “explosion of the year” (Whiteley 1987: 115). André Courrèges’ 1964 Spring Collection also brought geometric shapes, mini dresses and women’s trouser suits in white and silver colours, attracting the attention of the decade (Sandbrook, 2006). Icons such as Diana Ross, Jean Shrimpton and Audrey Hepburn were all photographed wearing this space age fashion, and with the help of the media and magazines such as Queen and the Observer, readers were quickly introduced to the trend (Sandbrook 2006).



Events in the late sixties however, brought a wave of counter culture, which shaped fashion in a way that was quite literally ‘out of this world’. Civil disorder and race riots were widespread and students were taking part in protests against the Vietnam War and the education system. The youth in Britain had found their voice, and began to use music, illegal drugs and fashion as a way to break free from their once prisoned and restricted lives, and instead find peace, love and freedom. Unlike the traditional workingclass values and patterns of behavior that were shown by the Mods, ‘Hippies’ exercised deeper and more long-lasting values, focusing on alternative lifestyles and rejecting western values (Osgerby, 1998).

The beliefs and ethos of the Hippie culture are interesting to discuss, as their rejection to western values was heavily reflected in their fashion. Bell-bottoms, afghan coats, psychedelic tie-dye, beads, headbands and loose-fringed jackets were everywhere during the late sixties (Croll, 2014) and especially at events such as Woodstock Music Festival, which represents a peak in the history of counter culture. The Hippie style was not only evident on the streets of Britain, but the countercultural groups had gone international, crossing over to the West Coast of America (especially San Francisco), which then became the ‘spiritual home’ (Osgerby, 1998).





Along with change in society and politics across the world, the sixties was a decade of remarkable change in technology too, with a number of the innovations laying the foundations for technology that we still use today. Driving fashion trends across Britain more than ever before was the invention of the colour television, with BBC and ITV outputs offering colour images to those who could afford to own or rent the right television set. By 1971 the percentage of houses in Britain that had a television set rose to 91%, from 75% in 1961, having an exceptionally larger impact on the population than other advances such as the washing machine and the telephone (Marwick, 1982). The fact that the majority of the population were now able to tune in to their favourite television programmes, meant that fashions trends were able to be mass consumed, and spread quickly across the country. ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ (RSG!), running within a short period between 1963 and 1966, was seen as the “guide to mod fashion” (Whitely 1987:

104). With the opening byline as ‘the weekend starts here’ (Feldman, 2009), the show suggested the importance of leisure in teen lives, along with displaying the nations favourite television personalities and musicians to the population. By doing so, this influenced the youth to follow the latest clothing, music, dance and slang trends that were constantly evolving. Fashion icon Twiggy said that the youth had to make things for themselves, “because they [trends] were never in fashion long enough for the fashion people to catch up” (Twiggy, quoted in Whiteley 1987: 104). It wasn’t just the female audience that was hooked on fashion trends from the television sets, but also the male audience too. Fashion seemed to provide purpose in life for both genders of the youth, and held a huge importance throughout their daily lives. Another technological advance, which can be seen to impact fashion trends, is the revolutionary introduction of the birth control pill in 1961 (Cafe, 2011). Clothing

that held a sex appeal was becoming increasingly central to pop fashion, and with the population now being able to enjoy sex with more freedom, it was clear that women wanted to become more sexually attractive. Although many women argued that their clothing choices didn’t intentionally attract males, Mary Quant was of the belief that the sex appeal of female fashion “held number one priority” (Whiteley, 1987: 97). Academics argued that women were once “among the drabbest, dullest and most boringly dressed people in the world” (Journal of Society of Industrial Artists and Designers, 1964: 1, quoted in Whiteley 1987: 97) but this all quickly changed in the decade. 1963 brought a national interest on the emphasis of women’s legs, and skirts started to become shorter and shorter. In 1964 Mary Quant’s mini skirt was born (Bourne, 2014), and was paired with high boots, knee socks and boldly coloured stockings (Whitely, 1987). The mini skirt became an “emblem of sensuality” (Limone, 2015) and is still widely recognised today.





With music and fashion being the central focus points for the youth in the sixties, fashion icons and musicians are undoubtedly some of the most important driving forces of fashion for both genders. It wasn’t just females that were heavily influenced by icons and musicians, but the informal fashions of the sixties forever changed menswear and “accompanied youth culture’s triumph” in the decade (Croll, 2014: 78). In the cinema, on the television, and in publications across the country, escaping fashion promoted by these icons was basically impossible, and it seemed the youth didn’t want to escape it. Known for ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’, released in 1966, Nancy Sinatra pulled off the knee-high boots and mini dress look and became a symbolic representation of fashion. Following this look again was Patti Boyd, championing the modish style

with blonde, flippy hair and her long pale legs shown off by her patterned shift dresses (Marie Claire, 2015). The face of the decade was Lesley Hornby, soon to be known as ‘Twiggy’; Her youthful and androgynous approach to fashion can be seen as “emblematic of 1960s youth culture” (Croll, 2014: 30). Twiggy became instantly recognisable for her large eyes, thick eyelashes, famously boyish, slim figure and short, ginger pixie hair – something the population had never witnessed before. Twiggy wasn’t just the first supermodel to promote this look, but she was also the first person to introduce Quant’s miniskirt to the youth market (Limone, 2015), paving the way for teenage girls across Britain. The curvy, feminine look of the fifties was replaced with a more boxy, geometric shaped body, dressed in childlike patterned mini dresses and buckled shoes.







In keeping with the Mod trend was the worldwide phenomenon the Beatles, who were not just responsible for trends within Britain, but they also fueled macro trends that crossed over to America in 1964. The international effect of the Mod style is linked with the first wave of the “British Invasion”, when the young, stylish four crossed the ocean to New York City (Feldman, 2009). Known for their ‘Beatle cut’ hairstyles, as well as their collarless suits and smart, Mod vibe, the Beatles soon became iconic style figures for not just the male population but also the female. The youth began to imitate the band, and with men’s hair getting longer, and women’s hair getting shorter, it sometimes made it difficult to distinguish between the two sexes. Starting off with a similar look to the Beatles were members of rock group the Rolling Stones. However, their neat suits and combed hair quickly turned into a rebellious look of eyeliner, scarves and floppy velvet hats, fitting the drugfueled lifestyle that many members of the youth were about to embark upon. As mentioned earlier, the late sixties were dominated by counter culture fashion, and major driving forces of this trend were music and illegal substances. Gigs and festivals, along with an excessive use of

psychedelic drugs were all part of the 1967 ‘Summer Of Love’, a summer that finally brought optimism to the youth of Britain. The country was about to witness a “youthquake” that was “fueled by money and a newly found sense of hedonism” (Barry Miles 2013, quoted in BBC: The Summer of 1967 - The Summer of Love, 2013). Musicians such as Janis Joplin; Jimmy Hendrix; The Beatles and Pink Floyd drove the psychedelic fashion throughout this time, and opened the minds of the youth, introducing them to an extended spiritual world. It is clear that musicians and icons heavily influenced the teenagers of the time; however this wasn’t just in terms of fashion, but in behavior too. Hippies were known for their misuse of Cannabis and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), and between 1963 and 1966 the abuse of amphetamines became increasingly popular within the Mod culture. Both the Rolling Stones and the Beatles were convicted of drug abuse, which influenced the youth of the nation to follow in their footsteps. Convictions for drug abuse between 1966 and 1967 more than doubled (Whitely, 1987) proving just how easily the youth were swayed into following their icons.



A final driving force of fashion to examine is art. Along with music, art played a significant role as one of the driving forces of fashion in the sixties, with the two main types of popular art at the time being Op Art and Pop Art. Pop Art had a huge influence on fashion during the mid sixties, with graphic work from artists such as Andy Warhol being printed onto clothing. The most well known example of Pop Art mixed with fashion is the famous Mondrian Dress, designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1965. The dress was featured on the front cover of September’s Vogue that year, allowing the mixture of art with fashion to be mass consumed. Unlike Op Art, clothing that was inspired by Pop Art was made up from panels of fabric in bold colours (usually primary colours), mixed with black and white, and these bright patterns were adopted by both men and women at the time. Although the males took on an adventurous, striking and energetic way of dressing, which was influenced by art, art education had a more significant and concrete effect on male fashion that brought

menswear into a new light. In 1965 men’s fashion sales rose by 15%, and the Royal College Of Art was granted £20,000 a year by Hepworths in order to set up a menswear section. Along with this improvement in art education, ‘The Queen’ magazine also started a regular men’s feature for the first time – ‘The Male Element’ – and in October that the first male fashion columnist was hired by the Sunday Express (see Whiteley, 1987: 103). The use of education and the media helped to promote menswear to the nation, and therefore be seen as a pivotal movement in men’s fashion. In 1965 Op Art, short for Optical Art, began to appear on clothing after an exhibition in New York City: ‘The Responsive Eye’. Newspapers such as The Daily Mail and The Observer began to write about the art form, spreading the style to a wider audience (, 2015). The Observer (February 28th 1965), went on to say that just days after the exhibition in New York, vivid clothing made from “bold stripes, wavy lines and circles” suddenly appeared in the shop windows of stores along Fifth Avenue,

immediately transitioning the optical illusions of art from the exhibition into fashion. The short amount of time between the exhibition taking place and the newspaper article being published shows just how quickly art was transitioned into fashion, and circulated so quickly by the use of the media at the time. Op Art also went on to inspire another popular trend within the mid sixties – paper fashion. Op Art patterns were used on the famous ‘Paper Caper Dress’ (, 2015), which was introduced into the Mod style and worn for a short period by the youth. The theory behind this futuristic way of dressing was that clothing was made to last for a short time, which would encourage industrial activity and “provide constant and novel enjoyment” of bodies (Whiteley, 1987: 102). Although the craze for paper fashion only lasted for around a year, the trend signifies and embodies the values that the youth held at the time: the garments were low in cost, expendable, fun, disposable and finally part of the constant change in fashion which defines the pop lifestyle (Whiteley, 1987).






To conclude, it is interesting to note that although the major driving forces of fashion in the 1960s may have been related to aspects such as music, art, icons and technology, it is clear that these trends were driven and circulated even more by the youth at the time. Social transformations such as the Hippie movement and the rise of the Mods also allowed trends throughout the UK to cross over into areas of America, creating macro trends that were consumed by a wider population. Overall, the 1960s was a time of innovation and creativity, and the decade has undoubtedly shaped the world of fashion today. “The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.�

John Lennon


REFERENCES, (2015). King’s Road, Chelsea | Explore 20th Century London. [online] Available at: http:// www.20thcenturylondon. [Accessed 30 Nov. 2015]. Bourne, L. (2014). A History of the Miniskirt: How Fashion’s Most Daring Hemline Came To Be. [online] StyleCaster. Available at: http://stylecaster. com/history-of-the-miniskirt/ [Accessed 1 Dec. 2015]. Bray, Christopher (2015). 1965 The Year Modern Britain Was Born. London: Simon &S chuster UK Ltd. Cafe, R. (2011). How the contraceptive pill changed Britain - BBC News. [online] BBC News. Available at: http:// [Accessed 1 Dec. 2015]. Croll, Jennifer (2014). Fashion That Changed The World. Print.

Feldman, Christine Jacqueline (2009) “We Are The Mods”. New York: Peter Lang. Print. Government Statistical Service (1996). Labour Market Trends. Labour Market Statistics Group, Central Statistical Office. Print. Howell, G. (1975). In Vogue. London: Allen Lane. Inglis, T., Inglis, S. and Kaplan, C. (2012). Op Art rendering with lines and curves. Computers & Graphics, 36(6), pp.607-621. Limone, L. (2015). Mary Quant - [online] Available at: http://www.vogue. it/en/encyclo/designers/q/ mary-quant- [Accessed 1 Dec. 2015]. Marie Claire, (2015). 1960s Fashion Icons: Meet 25 Women Who Shaped The Swinging Decade. [online] Available at: http:// blogs/547967/the-fashionmoments-that-defined-the1960s.html [Accessed 8 Dec. 2015].

Marwick, A. (1982). British society since 1945. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books. Miles, Barry (2013) BBC: The Summer of 1967 - The Summer of Love. (2013). [video] BBC. Osgerby, Bill (1998) Youth In Britain Since 1945. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers. Print. Roberts, Kenneth. Class In Modern Britain. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Print. Sandbrook, Dominic (2006). White Heat 1964-1970. London: Little, Brown. Quant, Mary (1966) Quant. London: Cassell. Print., (2015). The Space Race - Victoria and Albert Museum. [online] Available at: articles/t/the-space-race/ [Accessed 1 Dec. 2015]. Whiteley, Nigel (1987) Pop Design. London: Design Council. Print.


FIGURE 13: John Lennon



Figure 1: Original image of Twiggy, adapted by author on Adobe Photoshop. Consejos Regios, (2014). Queremos los ojos de Twiggy: pestañas postizas, por Fernanda Cabrera - Consejos Regios. [image] Available at: http:// queremos-los-ojos-detwiggypestanas-postizas-por-fernandacabrera/ [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015]. Figure 2: Op Art - Background Grasshoppermind.wordpress. com, (2012). February | 2012 | grasshoppermind | Page 2. [image] Available at: https:// grasshoppermind.wordpress. com/2012/02/page/2/ [Accessed 2 Dec. 2015]. Figure 3: Man On The Moon Millard, D. (2009). Moon landing anniversary: a giant leap for Britain, too. [image] Telegraph. Available at: http://www. space/5759409/Moon-landinganniversary-a-giant-leap-forBritain-too.html [Accessed 6 Dec. 2015]. Figure 4: Op Art In Fashion Rivista di Moda, (2013). Fashion and Art - Rivista di Moda. [image] Available at: http://www. fashion-and-art/ [Accessed 9 Dec. 2015]. Figure 5: The Beatles Rieber, J. (2013). EXCLUSIVE!

The "LOST" Beatles Albums! The Fab Four's Solo Songs Remixed!. [image] johnrieber. Available at: exclusive-the-lost-beatles-albumthe-fab-fours-solo-songs-remixed/ [Accessed 5 Dec. 2015]. Figure 6: Mods, (2012). The Scooterist: Youth Culture Mods & Rockers 1960s - 1970s. [image] Available at: http://www. [Accessed 3 Dec. 2015]. Figure 7: Andre Courreges, (2013). “ANDRE COURREGES – THE COUTURE’S SPACE CAPTAIN | HOUSE OF RETRO. [image] Available at: http://houseofretro. com/index.php/2013/04/17/andrecourreges-the-coutures-spacecaptain/ [Accessed 9 Dec. 2015]. Figure 8: Hippies YouTube, (2013). 60s Hippie Fashion - How to Dress Like a Sixties Hippie Girl. [image] Available at: com/watch?v=UPXl18Gibdk [Accessed 7 Dec. 2015].

Figure 10: Twiggy Bliss, S. (2015). 50 Years Later, 1960s Supermodel Twiggy Lands a L'Oréal Contract. [image] Available at: beauty/50-years-later-1960ssupermodel-c1421864820117. html [Accessed 9 Dec. 2015]. Figure 11: The Beatles Wikipedia, (2015). 1960s in music. [image] Available at: wiki/1960s_in_music [Accessed 9 Dec. 2015]. Figure 12: Optical Art In Fashion, (2013). (Fashion Optical Art) 1966 Photo Henk Hilterman. [image] Available at: chan-6070104/all_p19.html [Accessed 4 Dec. 2015]. Figure 13: John Lennon Andreacchi, M. (2013). Rare Beatles. John Lennon.. [image] Available at: pin/529384131169641268/ [Accessed 6 Dec. 2015].

Figure 9: Mini Skirt, (2015). BLACK SWAN MOMENT - MINI SKIRT. [image] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2015].




Driving Forces of Fashion 1960s.  

University essay based on the key driving forces of fashion during the 1960s.

Driving Forces of Fashion 1960s.  

University essay based on the key driving forces of fashion during the 1960s.