New Zealand dressmaker: experiences, practices and contribution to fashionability, 1940 to 1980

Hamon, J 2007, New Zealand dressmaker: experiences, practices and contribution to fashionability, 1940 to 1980, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Architecture and Design, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title New Zealand dressmaker: experiences, practices and contribution to fashionability, 1940 to 1980
Author(s) Hamon, J
Year 2007
Abstract The rationale behind the research presented in this thesis grew from a perception that, historically, work that was seen to be "women's work" was undervalued or unrecognised, particularly if the work was closely associated with domesticity or the exclusively feminine. Local and international media have shown interest in New Zealand fashion designers in recent years, generally without reference to the history of New Zealand fashion and dressmaking. This research was interested in what had gone before; in what factors conspired to provide the foundation for what is now a profitable commercial fashion industry.

This thesis examined evidence that supported or disproved the hypothesis that the foundations of the industry lay in the expertise attained in a female "domestic" activity carried out in an unbroken tradition. A study was made of the work of home dressmakers in New Zealand during and following World War Two, with a view to evaluating the contribution that these practitioners made to the development of the contemporary fashion industry. A representative group of practitioners was interviewed and their experiences provided the primary research focus for the study.

The study considers the broader historical context, including any unique factors that allowed dressmaking to flourish in New Zealand. The focus is on the work of women who made women's clothes, generally from their own homes or small business premises, and particularly during the period from the 1940s to the 1980s. The research concentrates on the social and economic environment in which the dressmakers worked; their rationale for establishing their businesses; the skills and knowledge that they acquired and utilised; the extent of their production; and the manufacturing and retail opportunities that existed in competition to them. The study concludes with an evaluation of the significance of the dressmakers' contribution to the New Zealand fashion industry and an assessment of the continuation of the tradition of dressmaking in today's world.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Architecture and Design
Keyword(s) Dressmaker
Dressmaking
Fashion
New Zealand
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