Most sartorial trends come and go, but there are certain fashion items that changed the world. These are the iconic pieces that everybody knows, that caused controversies or were even banned in some countries. And the history behind many of the most important fashion items is surprisingly long, with their first examples popping up centuries ago. From wardrobe staples the little black dress and denim jeans to the controversial stories of the bikini and the brassiere, delve into the history of the fashion garments that made the biggest impact on the world.
Some accessories seem like they could only have been invented recently. But items like sunglasses have actually en around for hundreds of years. Albeit not in their cool aviator form. And if you own a pair of Brazilian Havaianas, you’re actually tapping into a footwear flip-flip trend that came over to the US from Japan following World War II. Then there are those important fashion items that are thoroughly modern, like the bikini and the miniskirt. And both of those caused plenty of controversy in certain countries, even being banned in some places.
Certain items that are considered the preserve of women in modern culture actually started out belonging to men. When you think of stockings and suspenders, you tend to think of a woman. But go back in time and stockings were only worn by men. The same goes for high heel shoes. And the reason that men wore them is actually quite brutal. Clue: it involves horse riding and arrows. And then there are the historic fashion items that have a luxury reputation today, but actually gained prominence in the muddy trenches of the battlefields of World War I.
The history of some fashion items that changed the world is like reading a social commentary on the attitudes of the times. All the different things that have happened to the brassiere in its 100 years plus of existence read like a history lesson in the changing attitudes towards women. And when it comes to denim jeans, you’ll find you learn as much about the French as you do about the details of Levi Strauss’ special garment. You’ll never look at your jeans in the same way again once you’ve found out all about its past.
Watch our video to discover the story behind the iconic fashion pieces that made history, and let us know which garment you think changed the world the most.