Swedish Fashion 1930–1960 : Rethinking the Swedish Textile and Clothing Industry

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to explore the development of Swedish fashion between 1930 and 1960 by examining the textile and clothing industry from the wider perspective of fashion production. It was during this period that Sweden was transformed into a leading industrial nation, which laid the foundation for increased prosperity in the post-war period. This historical and empirical study is predominantly based on systematic analysis of Swedish official statistics and close reading of the fashion press. The thesis applies a combination of approaches in the analytical chapters (chapter 2–4) that include three central aspects of fashion production: manufacturing, symbolic production, and the production of a national fashion. Chapter 2 gives an account of the industrial production of clothing and examines the scope, size and structure of the textile and clothing industry. The results confirm its importance to the Swedish economy in the period. One important finding shows that a shift in production from tailored outerwear to lighter garments occurred as early as the mid-1950s. Chapter 3 investigates the symbolic production of fashion by looking at the structure of the field of fashion in Sweden. The results show a French dominance where couturiers were celebrated as creative ‘artists’. A significant finding is how the idea of Swedish fashion was considered a process of creating economic value, as in clothing manufacturing. Chapter 4 deals with fashion as an expression of national culture. The result reveals a significant fashion culture associated with an everyday wear fashion that followed the Social Democratic reforms aimed at equality in society during the period. One important finding is that the wool coat was the hallmark of Swedish fashion identity in the post-war period. These results contribute to a broader understanding of fashion production and new insights into the history of its developments in Sweden between 1930 and 1960, which has gone largely unrecognised by previous fashion historians.