swimsuit, c. 1950 w swatches.jpg

A colorful, pattered play suit with side sash...and a cover up. As women re-evaluated social norms about just how much body they could show, clothing with "cover up" options were both practical and "appropriate."


East Coast/West Coast:

A History of the American Fashion Industry

For more than a century, New York and Los Angeles have defined American fashion. East Coast/West Coast tells the story of how these very different cities came to be the fashion capitals of the United States and how their cultural, social, and economic influence determined what most Americans wore every single day of their lives. This book is about business and history, technology and consumerism, and clothes. 

Garment manufacturers tested potential fashions in the department stores of Manhattan before they made 10,000 that didn’t sell in Seattle. So, New Yorkers literally determined what was sold in retailers across the country. Innovative design and cultural change powered  Los Angeles to national prominence. Its garment industry is one of the great success stories of the twentieth century.

 I use both archival documents and material culture, including: Chamber of Commerce papers; business records of manufacturers and department stores; oral histories; and the garments themselves—printed rayon culottes, silk beach pajamas, and wool jersey swimsuits.

Expected completion: Spring 2020