California Way of Life: Promotion of California sportswear, 1930–47 | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2050-0726
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0734



Until Second World War, Paris, to many, held the undisputed title of fashion capital of the world, and had done so for centuries, at least to women of society. American women proved to be no exception. With Nazi Occupation 1940–45, this European influence was cut off and the American fashion industry regrouped, finding a new voice in the absence of Paris fashion direction. To many, New York, with its thriving garment centre and strong union control seemed to be the heir apparent. While the New York market hustled to gain press and recognition for its vigorous but under acknowledged women’s apparel industry, the California industry, with a basis for clean, modern design coming from the neighbouring movie industry, and their rather secluded locale, worked within a different framework from their eastern counterparts. As a result, the close of Paris in 1940 seemed to not impact California the same way it did New York and other garment centres throughout America. Factors such as geographic influence, public works developments, creative innovation, resourceful private and government financing, educational development, organized public relations initiatives, and West Coast population shifts all contributed to help California leverage wartime prosperity to its own advantage. As a result, during this small window of time, the West Coast industry elevated itself to distinction in women’s fashion, particularly in the emerging apparel category of sportswear.


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