1950s made in Brisbane: Italian tailors and the continental suit | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2050-0742
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0750



During the 1950s and 1960s, when the French couturiers Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy and Chanel dominated the fashion industry, the Italian community in Brisbane, Australia, was very active in the local industry through retail, dress-making and tailoring. Australia is geographically at the margins of the developed countries and has been dependent on European trends and taste. In the 1950s, communication was based on magazines and especially newsreels and film; each ethnic group dressed as they liked and according to their custom. Moreover, ‘Made in Italy’ was not yet the prestigious concept that revolutionized ready-to-wear design from the 1970s. However, Italian tailors and demi-couturiers brought to Brisbane their trans-national sense of elegance (the Italian style) and the taste in fashion that influenced new generations in England and elsewhere in Europe from the 1950s. They brought quality and workmanship, offering excellence through the use of quality fabrics from prestigious English and Italian brands. These tailors and dress-makers also contributed towards the local industry through passing on the skills that they brought from Italy. This article is based on a project that seeks to understand the connection between fashion, history and place. The area under examination is the Valley, short for Fortitude Valley, an area adjacent to the Brisbane CBD. Fundamental to this connection between place and fashion was the presence of many Italian migrants in the area. Through archival research and oral history, the aim of this ethnographic project is to bring to the fore an untold story about the economic and aesthetic contribution of Italian migrants to Queensland. Central to the understanding of this aesthetic change is the Italian suit. This research is innovative in that it opens a new area of study in Australian fashion history, connected to the history of migrants and their identity.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error