“Well-dressed” in suits of Australian wool : The global fiber wars and masculine material literacy, 1950–1965

Journal article


Bellanta, Melissa and Cramer, Lorinda. (2023). “Well-dressed” in suits of Australian wool : The global fiber wars and masculine material literacy, 1950–1965. Fashion Theory. pp. 1-28. https://doi.org/10.1080/1362704X.2023.2228009
AuthorsBellanta, Melissa and Cramer, Lorinda
Abstract

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.”

Keywordsmen’s suits; Man magazine; Australian wool; synthetics; materiality
Year2023
JournalFashion Theory
Journal citationpp. 1-28
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN1751-7419
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/1362704X.2023.2228009
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85164141051
Page range1-28
FunderAustralian Research Council (ARC)
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusIn press
Publication dates
Online30 Jun 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Aug 2023
ARC Funded ResearchThis output has been funded, wholly or partially, under the Australian Research Council Act 2001
Grant IDDP190103341
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