<< Previous
1 of 3
<< Previous
1 of 3

By Lester David

MEN’S fashions, long noted for their sepulchral hues and funeral cut, are currently erupting in a major revolution of styles, colors and surprises. Gone are the days of the petrified collar and suits of “cast iron tweed.” New fabrics, new fashions and new fads are the order of the day. Where will it all end?

We asked clothing and industrial designers, textile manufacturers and other experts to peer into their crystal balls and tell us what lies ahead in the field of male fashion. Here are some of their amazing answers: For the immediate future the sunburst of color adopted a few short years ago will get even wilder. According to Baker Case of Hatton Case, a leading men’s wear establishment in New York, waistcoats, Bermuda shorts, sport shirts, cabana outfits and swimming trunks will blaze even louder as the _ seasons go on.

In Hollywood, Sy Devore, who fashions suits for filmdom’s top stars, has already removed breast pockets from men’s suits because he claims they are totally unnecessary. He’s even eliminated the lapel buttonhole. “Absolutely unneeded,” he asserts.

Within the next few years, predicts Bert Bacharach, a leading authority on men’s fashions, you may see the downfall of the Ivy League style. These slender, natural lines, he believes, are as much an exaggeration as the drape cut. Next step, he says, is moderate padding, a bit of a waistline and some semblance of a blade at the shoulders.

What about the distant future? The wonders will continue, experts claim, and before too many years have elapsed episodes like this one may be commonplace: A fellow is out to dinner with his best girl. While staring into her eyes, his hand trembles and a blob of gravy drops on his pants. He just lets it dry, then reaches into a pocket for an eraser and rubs out the spot!

That evening, the same chap surveys himself in a mirror and decides he’d look better in narrower lapels. No fancy tailoring bills for him. He merely takes out a pair of scissors and snips his lapels to the desired width.

He is wearing paper clothes and they are only one of the long-range miracles of masculine [Continued on page 145] fashion foreseen by authorities. Declares Mr. Bacharach: “The changes to come will be utilitarian, not merely a different look. Everything in apparel runs in cycles. We have now reached the zenith of durability in clothes. A suit has a life expectancy of some eight to 12 years. Soon the corner will be turned and suits will have shorter and shorter lives on the theory that men will welcome a good deal of variety in their wardrobes.

‘The ultimate in that phase of the cycle would be a suit a day. That’s right, inexpensive, disposable suits to be tossed in the wastebasket instead of the hamper.

“There will be no buttons to come loose or to lose on these clothes of the future. A small magnet fastened to each side of the jacket will keep the front closed.”

Surprisingly, paper clothes are being produced right now. At the Kimberly-Clark Corp. in Neenah, Wis., technicians are balling up their spattered laboratory smocks and tossing them into a trash can.

These experimental paper clothes can be draped, printed, silk screened and cut and sewn like any other fabric. They can be made to specifications, varying in strength, appearance and texture, and can also be rendered water and flame resistant.

Nor is Kimberly-Clark the only firm experimenting with paper wearables. Cincinnati Industries, Inc., has made a paper bathing suit and a man’s coat and jacket— Ivy League style. Synthetic resins make the material waterproof and opaque. Color can easily be added to this paper fabric, called X-crepe, and the surface can be embossed or printed. It can also be worked exactly like cloth, with sewing, cutting and fancy stitching.

How else can male garb be improved for greater comfort and more efficiency? Officials at Burdick-Rowland Associates, a noted firm of industrial designers, offer these future possibilities.

They suggest a suit made entirely of netting (with the vital areas covered, of course). No part of the netting would touch the wearer. The material would be suspended about a half inch from the body by a simple wire arrangement or small suction cups. What could be cooler for long suffering males in summer?

Another suggestion is clothes with air vents built into them for maximum hot weather comfort. These vents, or air scoops, could be attractively designed and made a part of the suit’s pattern.

A small built-in air-conditioner and de-humidifier operating on transistors would be useful. The jacket housing the device would have to be lightweight and airtight with the neck and sleeves closed.

Communications could also be simplified in the clothing of the future. Ben Fromkin, a Burdick-Rowland designer says, “Why not a two-way telephone built right into the suit, powered by solar light?”

The experts did a lot of cogitating about how to improve men’s shoes. Mr. Fromkin suggests, “Why not high heels which contain a liquid shock absorber. The idea is that each step would not jar the body as much as it does now. The shock absorber would give you a little spring as you walk and the constant battering would be removed from the spinal column, doubtless resulting in fewer backaches.”

Bernard Lazarus, president of King-Size Footwear, a mail order house selling jumbo brogans, thinks stretchable clothing can be an answer to your weight problem. When you gain a few pounds, he reasons, your pants don’t come together in the middle and there’s a tailoring bill for letting them out. Stretch clothing, suits made of an elastic material, would easily accommodate the extra pounds.

What about the vast field of miracle fibers? The authoritative Consumer Reports predicts fibers that will make it unnecessary ever to press or clean a suit. And Dr. Carrol A. Hochwalt, vice president for research, development and engineering of Monsanto Chemical Co., says true synthetic protein fibers may be in the offing.

“These and other test tube fibers still to come,” he says, “will bring new concepts of fashion comfort and economy to the world of fabrics. Filmier than the most gossamer silks, or heavier than the most rugged woolens, they will be practically immune to the effects of age, weather, sunlight and the ravages of insects and decay.”

That, men, is our long-term fashion forecast predicting our New Look. Fashion-wise, things are looking better for us—or at least different—at long last. •

  1. Keyser Söze says: June 30, 20092:01 pm

    I think is a great idea to rescue this old stuff from magazines and put it on the net.
    It has a so absurdist feeling!

  2. Rick says: June 30, 20095:55 pm

    I can’t imagine how suits made with miniature built in air conditioners “operating on transistors” would work. What have transistors and cooling systems to do with each other? Is it a mistaken belief of the 50s that miniaturizing anything would absolutely have to contain transistors?


  3. Eli says: June 30, 20096:10 pm

    Another prediction that misses the mark entirely. My new dress suits are still made of wool, have an expected life span of ten to fifteen years, and would have looked right in style forty years ago. About the only things that have fluctuated are the widths of the lapels and neckties, and the cut of the trousers.

  4. nlpnt says: June 30, 20097:27 pm

    Paper suits and transistorized air-conditioners I can see catching on, but shock absorbing the heels and a telephone? Who would want to walk on squishy gel and carry a phone wherever they go?

  5. jayessell says: June 30, 20097:30 pm


    Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor was powered by transistors in the 1960s.


    Oh wait. That’s comic book science.

  6. Firebrand38 says: June 30, 20097:36 pm

    Rick: Well, you see cooling systems run on this stuff called electricity and you can use transistors to control that electricity stuff.

    Looking at this article from 1959 start by saying “transistor” wherever you see the word “relay” http://books.google.com…

  7. Rick says: June 30, 20098:49 pm

    Funny, I though electricity could be supplied by batteries, generators and fuel cells. Transistors can control the power but not produce it as the article seems to imply.


  8. Firebrand38 says: June 30, 20099:20 pm

    Rick: Funnier the article actually reads “A small built-in air-conditioner and de-humidifier operating on transistors would be useful.”

    It’s quite a leap from operating something to powering something, but I’m sure that you knew that.

  9. Torgo says: June 30, 200910:45 pm

    I say in the year 2000 all men’s suits will be made of mylar, practical for re-entry after a hard day at the space station.

  10. Neil Russell says: July 1, 200911:53 am

    What I found amazing is that the drawings were by Harry Goff.
    I always associated that style with Roy Doty

  11. Eamonn says: July 1, 20095:06 pm

    Torgo, I like that image.

    A man in a fine suit plummeting towards the Earth from the blackness of space. A briefcase in one hand, the other clutches his hat to his head. His tie flutters behind him as he begins reentry.

  12. katey says: July 3, 20096:44 pm

    They didn’t miss the mark on EVERYTHING… ‘disposable’ clothes are almost here, as the average casual clothes are only worn for one or two years. Vents are common in performance sports wear. And elasticized clothes- including ‘one size fits all’ clothes- are everywhere. Shoes with shock absorbers? Also common.

  13. henry says: July 4, 20096:38 am

    I am from a cushion factory in China, currently, we are seeking for an R & D supplier to provide us a solution for minimize the size of the cushion. Since the cushion occupy a lot of the space during the shipment, if the cushion can be “suppressed”, it can save a lot of the shipment space and even save the warehouse space from the wholesaler and retailers. So, If you or you know any chemical engineers who can help of prodiving such solution, please kindly contact us at [email protected] we are available to discuss it with you.

  14. jayessell says: July 4, 20097:19 am

    Henry, in the USA there are ‘Space Bags’.
    It’s an air tight bag that collapses when air is pumped out of it.

  15. docca says: July 27, 200912:06 pm

    Actually paper garments aren’t too far-fetched. Brazilian designer Jum Nakao did it on his collection titled “A COSTURA DO INVISÍVEL” (Sewing the Invisible), which was completely made out of vegetable/rice paper:


    This was back in 2004. The designs were made and cut using digital means (cutting plotter) and assembled by hand. The amount of detail is amazing.

    He put on quite a performance at the time, as the models were instructed to completely torn the dresses apart before the audience at the end of the show.

  16. docca says: July 27, 200912:10 pm

    Oh, and he has a flickr gallery of the dresses as well: http://www.flickr.com/p…

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.