Wednesday, April 02, 2008


So, anyway, as I said in response to a comment by Timbaland, the John Howard track on the mixtape isn't that good really: a poor copy of Jobriath, who in turn was a poor copy of The Bowie. There are better songs on that album, I'm sure.

Not only is John Howard a former Australian Prime Minister, his name is also redolent of the name of a certain kind of gentlemen's outfitter from the 1970's. The sort of place that would advertise their wares on local TV with a voiceover saying "Men's Trevira slacks start at an incredible £5.99!!!!!!!! Polycotton print shirts only £4.99!!!!!! Amazing value!!!! Hurry on down while stocks last!!!!!"

I don't know if they ever ran out of exclamation marks in the stock room, but it was quite possible.

Whatever happened to the pioneering manmade fabrics of the '70's: Trevira; Terylene; Crimplene; Acrylic; Tricot; Courtelle? I'm sure there were various sub divisions such as Acrilan and Tricotine which would be carefully detailed in the Marshall Ward or John Moore catalogues that used to do the rounds of my mum's sisters' and friends' houses like a joint being passed around at a party (or a shop assistant at a Manchester Utd roasting, if you prefer a more modern reference).

All of those fabrics sounded like the names of girl groups from outer space. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that The Shirelles were named after a manmade fabric - probably that thin, diaphanous looking stuff that is used on the billowing sleeves of very, er, billowy blouses.

Thing is, after the return to fashion of natural materials in the late 1970's, were the reams of man made fabrics taken from warehouse shelves and placed in concreted underground bunkers? After all, they have a half life of five hundred years. We may all be victims of a silent epidemic. As masses of tiny Courtelle fibres float up above ground we could be breathing them in, with the consequence that we'll probably all die of horrible debilitating chest diseases in our fifties and sixties.

You don't find out about this stuff in the Real Media. Only we subversives on the underground blogging scene are willing to pass this shit on, maan.

I'll be returning to the theme of 1970's clothes shops in the next post, unless somebody of great social importance dies and I have to do an obituary in the meantime.

Labels: , , ,

I think it was the arrival of the permissive society that did for all those sweat-trapping synthetic fibres. All of a sudden, it was regarded as a great social misfortune to have genitalia that smelled of Lymeswold, because if you played your cards right, someone might find out.
Will you be exploring in a future post why Spandex was such a hit in the 80s?
The permissive society didn't arrive in the Midlands until about 2001, which is why people were still wearing sweaty arse Crimplene slacks and pungent nylon undies until then. Mind you, people still have one bath a week in front of the fire there, which makes things even worse. Bodily odour: the world's most effective contraceptive.

MJ - Spandex wasn't a big hit for me in the '80's. I'm not a person who is enthusiastic about keep fit, though. Or Bon Jovi.
I quite like Lymeswold.

You've started a terrible image of some 23rd Century Tony Robinson running around digs of John Collier Floral print shirts which would have to be de-gaussed by the beardy bloke from geo-phys. "Just look at this reading Tony!".
D'you remember those Brentford Nylons ads with Fluff?

Tesco used to have their own brand clothing in the 70s. It's been bothering me for years that I can't remember the name.
So what do stockbrokers wear on their days off? I must go to Runnymede and find out.
Was it Delaware, Bob?

Or was that Woolworth's?

No that was Winfield.
Murph - those shirts are already a hazard in second hand shops around the country. That distinctive wafty armpit manmade material smell can only get worse as the centuries go by. That's why we need to act now and send those John Collier shirts into outer space, or summat.

Maximum Bob - yeah, Brentford Nylons. The shop that promoted the idea of nylon bedclothes. Yeech! Even more disgusting than nylon shirts, those are.

Billy - I don't know any stockbrokers. I suppose in the 1970's they would've worn smart/casual golfing crossover wear, but that's just a guess. Maybe I'm getting them mixed up with taxi drivers!

Geoff - is it Delaware? Anyone who can confirm this will win a Betty Heart Disco t-shirt (22 inch chest).
Synthetic fibres are alive and well on the A level chemistry syllabus.
So I'd draw the diagram of the poly something or other molecule and say 'that's Terylene' you know 'Staprest' trousers.
Blank looks and denim as far as the eye could see.
Oh how I miss it.
Kaz - a few years ago we went out for a drink with a mixed group, some of whom were Young People, one of whom was a fashion victim. He was wearing Staprest trousers and the rest of us thought this was very funny (well, behind his back we were having a laugh about it). Perhaps the return to fashion of Staprest trousers was very shortlived.
When I worked at the local museum one of the docents donated the contents of her mothers' closet...every single item was made from some species of plastic horror fabric, and all of it obviously bought just as soon as the first fashions squitted out of the extruder. (I always imagine that this was a woman who had spent a good portion of her life ironing and hating it.) Our job was to catalogue and store this stuff. you will be interested to note that while Ban-Lon, Orlon, Celanese etc. do not age, the substances that lie trapped in the creases and seams most certainly DOES. Old detergent, dust, motes of whatever bacteria...they all form miniature reefs and ridges and odd deposits of...stuff...over time.
decency prevents me from mentioning what happens to items that were not laundered (hint: waxy brown grease.) since we didn't have vaccuum vaults or inert gas storage we had to quietly throw these things out. Note that homespun items from the civil war era that had never felt the touch of water were still odorless and even wearable.
FN - the mind boggles. I feel really sorry now for anyone who has to assemble those exhibitions of vintage 1970's clothes in museums. Perhaps the hippies were right - natural is best, maan. I don't think there'll be many plastic clothes in the future, what with environmental issues and all that. In fact, what we really should be doing is recycling all of those smelly old Crimplene dresses and Bri-Nylon jumpers. Yeugh.
all those popular fleece type things are made from plastic - why don't they have a bad press?
Ziggster - probably because they're very good at keeping you warm. Pretty hideous looking. I'm glad that I don't live in a cold, exposed rural place because I'd hate to have to wear one.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?