1970′s vinyl fashions


Rudi Gernreich revolutionized fashion of the free love carefree era including vinyl fashions.  Most famous for his topless bathing suite, Rudi was the first designer to incorporate vinyl into his clothing line in the 1960s.  These vinyl creations were mostly see-through skirts, tight body hugging outfits and skirts all designed to meet his ultimate goal of creating a unisex line.

Immediately his creations became a big hit amongst women who were finding their sexuality, and becoming less afraid to explore new ideas and new fashions.  Rudi would experiment with different fabrics to create one-of-a-kind pieces such as using clear vinyl as stripes in a dress.  This style of designing also made him the first designer to incorporate cutouts in a clothing line.

Rudi Gernreich’s statement in the 1960s-1970s with his clothing lines were a freeing of the female body.  For hundreds of years the female form had been subjected to tightening corsets, forming bras and clothing into the ideal body shape.  What Gernreich did was to take that ideology and throw it out the door by showing women of the time that they should be happy and love their bodies for the way they are.  The women of the 1960s and 1970s needed to feel that female empowerment and Gernreich only furthered this by injecting androgyny to his designs making them appealing to both women and men.

While the 1960s saw a fascination with vinyl daring see-through pieces, the 1970s were all about breathability and flow.  After the 1960s, shoppers were tired of wearing pieces that made them sweat excessively, and they searched for alternatives.  Many turned to laced tops and sheer dresses with flowing hems and sleeves.  Vinyl did still, however, have its place even amongst the free-flowing attitude of the 1970s.

Disco wear, much like Go-Go Dancer wear of the 60s, was meant to shine and be noticed amongst the strobe lights of a disco club.  This is where patent vinyl fabric came in the handiest.  Vinyl clothing largely became replaced by polyester, but the essential disco boot was never with out the finishing touches of patent vinyl.

Patent vinyl platform shoes were a big hit in the disco scene.  Not only were the vinyl shoes cheaper than leather, they were also more reflective than that of animal-hide leather.  In order to get into the discos individuals had to meet the required dress code.  This usually meant some sort of bellbottom pant, jacket and shirt, gold chain or jewelry, and vinyl platform boots for both men and women.  In order to increase the shine effect, shoppers would purchase not only the platform shoes, but also vinyl purses and accessories.

The 1970s eventually gave way to the Punk era where vinyl elements took favor.  Faux leather clothing, due to its inexpensive nature, was preferred by those individuals who enjoyed the punk rock scene, because leather was far more expensive than most young people could afford.  Punk rockers generally wore vinyl jackets, tight vinyl bondage style pants, large military style boots, and Doc Martens.

The punk era in the mid 1970s was short lived, but the more mainstream fashion ideologies did have a lasting effect on punk fashion.  Gernreich’s introduction of unisex clothing designs translated into the punk category as well.  Men began wearing tattered and torn tight vinyl pants and getting facial piercings just like their female counterparts continuing this ambiguity.

Vinyl wear has stood the test of time from its first introduction in the 1960s to the multitude of uses for it today.  Faux leather has greatly impacted the fashion and music industry.  Case in point, KISS, the legendary rock band from the 1970s who made their mark by wearing bold face makeup and tight fitting vinyl and leather pants, shirts, and even bat wings.  KISS inspired a whole new generation of rockers to adopt this makeup and vinyl and leather trend creating glam rock in the late 1970s and on into the 80s.

Vinyl fashions began as a liberating statement for both men and women equally.  Its origin may have been intended for the era of free love, but it has spanned generations and has jumped from culture class to culture class to become a big part of the Fall Winter 2010/2011 fashion season.

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