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American Sportswear: A Study Of The Origins And Women Designers From The 1930’s To The 1960’s
Robinson, Rebecca J.

2003, MDes, University of Cincinnati, Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning : Design.

In 1932, the department store Lord and Taylor promoted the American Look, it included comfortable, washable, quality clothing designed by American women designers. This was the beginning of an entirely new category of clothing that would change how the Western world dressed. These characteristics became so assimilated into today’s styles they have become an integral part of American design.


Before the growth of American design, fashion was based on the lifestyles of a few elite European women and their designers. Little was done to design fashions around the American lifestyle. American garment manufacturers simply copied French designs and mass-produced them in America. Paris was authoritarian in its mandates of fashions dictated by the desires of a few powerful designers, few believed good design could be created in America. A small group of American fashion designers sought to cast off the restrictions of European design and create a style that was uniquely American and placed function before form.


Economic, social, and political events had an impact on the development of sportswear as well. World War II isolated Paris from the international fashion press so American manufacturers and department stores turned to American designers. The growth of the department store transformed clothing into fashion and created a demand for inexpensive designs and promoted democracy in fashion. The growth of athleticism among American women spurred the need for comfortable clothing. The lifestyle influences and changes springing from California and Hollywood during the 1930’s portrayed the active, outdoor lifestyle as desirable. World War II also pushed women into paid factory and office work, creating a need for practical, protective work clothing. With American trade cut off from France, American textile mills retooled to produce military fabrics and consumer fabrics usually imported from Europe.


American sportswear is becoming a global style of fashion. Contemporary designers glean inspiration from the women innovators of sportswear who designed from the 1930’s to the 1960’s; they include Claire McCardell, Vera Maxwell, Bonnie Cashin, Tina Leser, Clare Potter, and Carolyn Schnurer. They contributed greatly to the formation of the American identity.


Margie Voelker-Ferrier (Advisor)
285 p.

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Robinson, R. (2003). American Sportswear: A Study Of The Origins And Women Designers From The 1930’s To The 1960’s. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Robinson, Rebecca. "American Sportswear: A Study Of The Origins And Women Designers From The 1930’s To The 1960’s." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. University of Cincinnati, 2003. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 19 Oct 2018.

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Robinson, Rebecca "American Sportswear: A Study Of The Origins And Women Designers From The 1930’s To The 1960’s." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. University of Cincinnati, 2003. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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