When collecting fashions from the recent past for the future, it can be a challenge to make sound decisions without the perspective of time that allows us to see the past more clearly. Since the museum was founded in 2004 we have acquired a mix of contemporary pieces ranging from Alexander McQueen to a pair of Crocs.
A recent donation included a brown stretchy nylon mesh dress labelled Weston Wear. The dress is from c. 2010, and is similar to the reddish dress pictured at left from the blog missdisgrace, but with long sleeves. After doing some research on the label, I decided we will accession it into the collection – primarily because it represents the shift in retailing that has occurred since the turn of the millenium.
Weston Wear was founded in San Francisco by Julienne Weston in 1980. She launched a line of stretchy cotton/Lycra separates and in the 1990s started working with nylon mesh, the material from which our dress is made. When worn with Spanx, these dresses instantly made you look like you had lost ten pounds — a winner with most women. Weston Wear was worn by Madonna, and sold through Nordstrom’s, Macy’s and Anthropologie, as well as through her own boutique in the Mission district of San Francisco, not far from where her clothes were made. By 2010, around the time our dress was made, sales were mounting to 10 million per year, and were being carried in stores internationally.
But in 2017 Julienne Weston shuttered her business, citing a list of issues from e-commerce competition, to undisclosed internal reasons. “You could see it coming from 20 years ago” she said, regarding consumer trends. “I just took it as far as it could go.”