Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America.


We want to sing the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the earth, along the circle of its orbit. F. T. Marinetti Futurists of 1911 celebrated technology, the beauty of speed and racing cars with “great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath.” They integrated their philosophy with a Manifesto of Men’s Clothing extolling comfort, joyful practicality and illumination –light even in the rain. In the 1950s, American men followed the path of the Futurists driving dream cars with spectacular tail fins and fashionable synthetic jacquard upholstery while dressing in sport shirts of expressive fibers and designs compatible with their “living rooms on the

Adrian of Hollywood, famous women’s fashion designer, brought drama to men’s sport shirts in yarn dyed fabrics and original prints. While studying a 1950s collection of Adrian men’s sport shirts and other sportswear from the period as well as automobile upholstery books in the clothing and textile collections of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, I observed a harmonious compatibility in textile fiber, color and texture. Use of metallic yarn advertised as Metlon, in Apparel Manufacturing 1954 was interwoven in upholstery and Adrian sport shirts giving subtle illumination to both. Futuristic innovation in fiber and fabric contrasted with the ordered business and domestic suburban life of 1950s men.

The purpose of this paper is to show the ways men expressed their love of color and design in leisurewear and automobile designs through the use of new and fashionable synthetic fibers.