Sixties Fashion: From Less is More to Youthquake

My latest book is about to be released. Sixties Fashion: From Less is More to Youthquake, will be hitting book stores October 29. Like my book on 1940s fashion, my goal was to look at the international fashion scene through period references to see how and why fashion changed during the decade. In just ten years, the styles, markets, materials, demographics, inspirations, and even the very definition of fashion was transformed.

While a richer landscape of high fashion from New York, Florence, Hong Kong, Madrid and Rome challenged the dominance of Paris haute couture, the baby boom generation  revolutionized the traditional definition of fashion. Diana Vreeland called it a ‘youthquake’, with new informal styles of dressing coming from new sources for fashion, from London’s mod scene and the ye-yes in Paris, to the flower children and Afro movement of the US.

The 208 page book is richly illustrated with period photographs and extant garments from several public and private collections. And if you happen to be in Cambridge from November 8 to February 3, the Fashion History Museum will have an exhibition of 1960s fashion featuring many of the original garments illustrated in this book.

Fashion and Song: Youth Quake – 1965

Click the link in the last paragraph to hear the song

In January 1965 Diana Vreeland coined the phrase “Youth Quake” to describe the effect the younger generation of teenagers were having upon the world, especially in fashion and music.

Around the same time J.C. Penny executive Paul Young was thinking there was room for a British boutique style approach to selling youth fashions in the United States. There wasn’t interest from J.C. Penney, but Carl Rosen, the president of the Puritan Fashion Corporation, liked the idea and hired Young to head a new division at Puritan they called ‘Youthquake’, after Vreeland’s word that succinctly identified the youth market.

The first goal of Youthquake was to improve sales of existing Puritan lines to the youth market. A three-year contract was signed with British designers Mary Quant, and Foale & Tuffin to infuse some British mod style into Puritan’s junior brands. The song “Youth Quake” by the Skunks was commissioned by Puritan and that autumn a 45 of the song was given away with every purchase of an English Mod-design fashion from Puritan.