Fight the Power

In todays lecture we looked at the style characteristic of the zoot suit, what subcultural statements were being articulated through the wearing of it and the relationship between social and cultural context and style. The zoot suit were brightly coloured with wide shoulders and long suit jackets. The trousers were baggy and then narrower at the bottom, usually work with dutch type shoes and accompanied with chains and a wide brimmed flat hat. The zoot suit would be worn by african americans and mexican teenagers/youths and was a ‘non-white’ style. The zoot suit was clearly a specific cultural style which makes a statement of their racial identity. The zoot suit comes from the traditional suit worn by white business men in the 1940s, the resignification of the way that non powerful african american men exaggerated the traditional suit creates not only a racial statement but also a statement on class. The zoot suit later became illegal as fabrics were being rationed, this became an anti-establishment in the 1940s war time which broke the rules. From this case study I can take how the rebellion against race and class were played out through the design of the suit and how I can use this concept in the power of design and the use of anti-establishment can start to challenge traditional values. This can be done through gender, sexuality, race and by using historical influences and breaking these traditional rules. This re-signification is something that the goths, hip hops, zoot suits and teddy boys do. They take something old and modernise it to create there own subculture style.


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