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“Well-Dressed” in Suits of Australian Wool: The Global Fiber Wars and Masculine Material Literacy, 1950–1965

journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-28, 04:43 authored by M Bellanta, L Cramer
The global explosion of synthetic fibers in the mid-twentieth century challenged Australia’s wool industry, demanding new ways of marketing the natural fiber to compete with these so-called modern miracles. The menswear market changed profoundly with the convenience of synthetic fabrics and the excitement that surrounded the power of science embodied in these clothes. Some Australian men turned to the “Your Clothes” feature in Man: The Australian Magazine for Men to understand what being “well-dressed” meant across these years of rapid change. A suit was a key component. Though pure wool had long been the cloth of choice, those made from new synthetics or a blend of wool and artificial fibers proliferated at the time. This article explores the efforts of Man’s fashion columnists to help their readers navigate the changes taking place to textiles across 1950–1965 by developing their material literacy. It further captures how the mid-century fiber wars played out across the pages of the magazine, contributing a distinctly Australian perspective to the global competition for consumers that was shaped by the nation’s pride in its fine wool and its intensifying efforts to combine the fiber’s natural advantages with those of “modern science.”.

History

Journal

Fashion Theory - Journal of Dress Body and Culture

Volume

ahead-of-print

Location

London, Eng.

ISSN

1362-704X

eISSN

1751-7419

Language

English

Issue

ahead-of-print

Publisher

ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD