Remember when August meant you needed to plan for your “Back-to-School” shopping? Some talented folks could make their own clothes. Here is a sample of the styles that the sewing pattern companies were offering in the 1960s:
One item of clothing that everyone bought ready-made was a pair of blue jeans. San Francisco based Levi Strauss & Co started here in the City as a maker of denim jeans here for the miners looking to get rich during the 1849 gold rush. By the 1960s, there was a blue jeans craze, fueled by the “anti-fashion” and “anti-organization man” ideals of the 1960s self-identified “anti-establishment” folks. Between 1964 and 1974, Levi Strauss & Co expanded from 16 manufacturing plants to 60 plants in the United States and another 23 plants across the world.
Jeans are still a fashion staple. Here is the 140-year history of the classic 501 jeans in a couple of minutes:
Another Bay Area contribution to the fashion statements of the 1960s was unique footwear. In 1965, a German footwear manufacturer attached two straps to his orthopedic sandal and what we know as Birkentocks were born. In 1966, Margot Fraser from Santa Cruz was vacationing in Bavaria. She was having trouble with her aching feet and workers at her health spa suggested trying the new sandals. She was convinced that women would buy these comfortable shoes as an alternative to high fashion shoes. So she started importing them. It was not an easy sell.
Shoe stores and department stores would not carry them. They thought they were too ugly. So Margot started selling them through health food stores. The sandals sold and became iconic footwear of the 1960s. Birkenstock USA was incorporated in 1972, and the headquarters and large distribution center is still in Marin County. Last year, Birkenstock sandals made a fashion comeback, appearing in some trendy fashion shows.
Apparently, we could all use some advice about making a fashion statement with Birkenstock sandals in 2014. Here is Emily with her suggestions: