Rewriting history: contemporary reworking of historical 1970’s fashion colours

Julie King

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


Fashion thrives on the thrill of the new, it is the intrinsic nature of the industry to constantly evolve and introduce new ideas. The very meaning of the word trend is an ancient one and can be traced back to Middle English and High German where its meaning was to turn, spin or revolve (Raymond, 2010), with many fashion trends, styles and colours revolving in and out of favour. However, the seasonal fashion trends introduced are not always quite ‘new’, conversely they may comprise a revival of other styles and eras, such as the sudden trend for 1960’s style precipitated in 2007 by the popular TV drama Mad Men set in the era (Hidefi, 2012). The trends for Autumn/Winter 2015/16 demonstrated the cyclical nature of fashion; the key reference points were the 1970’s in colour, garment silhouette, fabrication and accessories. During the Seventies there was a period of considerable change in the development of colour trend forecasting (Blaszczyk, 2012), with an explosion of colour for the mass fashion market and the development of the modern trend forecasting industry as we know it today. The key research question focuses on how does a fashion style, movement or decade become reinterpreted for contemporary consumers and can such a revival ever be a true representation of the era? Today’s trend forecasters use in depth research, observation and analysis to construct their concepts (Sheppard, 2015), surely this extends to historical archive materials to ensure such an accurate representation? In order to answer the research question posed, the paper examines the origins of the most recent Seventies revival in terms of categorisation of colour and styling, mapping evidence to construct the timeline for the revival and the frequency of iterations of trends in recent times against the early 1970’s. Examination of garments from the period was conducted using the Marks and Spencer Archive, ostensibly to determine how contemporary mass market 1970’s colours compare to contemporary revival colour palettes. Results from the analysis of several contemporary colour forecasts which represented the revival for 2015/16 will confirm the accuracy of contemporary colours in representing the actual colours of the era.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBreaking the Fashion Rules: International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI) Conference, Amsterdam 28-30 March 2017
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Mar 2017


  • Seventies
  • fashion
  • textiles
  • revivalist
  • cycles
  • colour


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