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Mary Quant

Largely contributing to ‘mod’ fashion and creating the Sixties' swinging London cultural movement.. fashion brand Mary Quant defined one of the most important decades in British fashion.

Categories

Fashion and Textiles  
Retail and Consumer Goods  
Summary

Largely contributing to ‘mod’ fashion and creating the Sixties' swinging London cultural movement.. fashion brand Mary Quant defined one of the most important decades in British fashion. The fashion designer popularised the miniskirt, short shorts, PVC and complementing bold make-up. She had an incredible influence on the modern woman’s position in society and empowered them with fashion and makeup, her advice being, ‘you can express who you want to be and shine brighter than ever before.’


History

When Sixties' poster girl and fashion designer Mary Quant opened her boutique on King’s Road in 1955 at the age of twenty-one, she had not thought it was about to transform the era's fashion and go on to become a global fashion and beauty brand.

Let's take a look at the brand history sourced by her entrepreneurial spirit fanned by passion and creativity. Mary Quant studied illustration at Goldsmiths and graduated in 1953 with a diploma in art education following which she interned with high-end milliner Erik. In 1955, her late husband Alexander Plunket Greene purchased Markham House on King’s Road in Chelsea, London - a neighbourhood frequented by the "Chelsea Set." Here Quant, Alexander Plunket Greene and Archie McNair opened a restaurant in the basement and a boutique named "Bazaar" on the mezzanine. Subsequently loud music, cocktails and creative window displays created a "scene" that often winded up at midnight. It was the place to shop and hang out in London. By the early Sixties.. the collections were a rage with the celebrity set and were featured in Harper's Bazaar.

Despite the runaway success of the fashion brand, Quant was a self-taught designer and attended evening classes on cutting and used printed patterns to achieve the looks she envisioned. Shortly she initiated a unique production cycle wherein the day's sales at Bazaar paid for the fabrics that was transformed overnight into new apparel for the following day. This retail strategy ensured Bazaar always had fresh unique looks. Mary's design was free from the constraints of traditional fashion. Her mini and other irreverent looks were critical to the development of the "Swinging Sixties" 

Per Vogue, Quant said: "It was the girls on the King’s Road [during the "Swinging London" scene] who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, "Shorter, shorter."" It popularised by the era"s supermodel Twiggy who helped transform super-short hemlines into an International rage!!

"City gents in bowler hats beat on our shop window with their umbrellas shouting ‘immoral!’ and ‘disgusting!’ at the sight of our mini-skirts over the tights, but customers poured in to buy" she recalled in her book- Quant by Quant.

Other examples of Quant's irreverent designs are her line of men's cardigans long enough to wear as dresses and white plastic collars used to brighten up sweaters and dresses. By 1957 the demand for the fashion brand's collections led to the opening of a second store on King's Road. In the late Sixties, Quant designed the "skinny rib sweater" and short shorts that were the forerunner of hot-pants! She was the first designer to use PVC, creating "wet look styles" and weatherproof boots. Her relaxed practical everyday wear too became a rage as she paired short tunic dresses with colourful tights.

Her designs encouraged sexual liberation with the mini-skirt in particular becoming a symbol of the movement. Feminists such as Gloria Steinem wore her pieces often with the irreverence, novelty and sexiness of her designs symbolising that times were changing not only for fashion but for women everywhere. Per The Independent "The miniskirt was launched on King's Road and immortalised in the Swinging Sixties with Quant putting its success down to genetics: ‘The Chelsea girl had the best legs in the world. She had the courage to wear it.’ "

In 1962 Mary Quant signed a deal with American department-store chain JC Penney. The following year Mary Quant Limited expanded into the UK mass market with a new affordable diffusion line “Ginger Group”, democratising fashion for a generation fed up with the trappings of their mother’s wardrobes. Next, she opened her third shop in London's New Bond Street. Quant dressed icons of the decade like Twiggy, Pattie Boyd, and Jean Shrimpton and she also designed looks for Audrey Hepburn -a past Bazaar customer- in Two for The Road and Charlotte Rampling in Georgy Girl. 

In 1966, Mary recognised the need gap for a new style of makeup to go with the bold fashion. This development made waves throughout the world, particularly in Japan. Mary made the first of many visits to Japan in 1972 which lead to Japanese influences appearing in her designs. In 1988, she designed the interiors of the Mini. The seats were designed with black and white stripes offset with red trimming and seat-belts; the steering-wheel had the designers' signature daisy and the bonnet badge had "Mary Quant" written on it.

"Over and again I was told I was responsible for the offbeat clothes that became known as the Chelsea Look . . . people either loved them or hated them. But, in fact, no one designer is ever responsible for such a revolution. All a designer can do is to anticipate a mood before people realize they’re bored with what they’ve already got."
An excerpt from her book.

Through the Seventies and Eighties she focused on household goods and make-up than just her clothing lines. In 2000 she resigned as Director of Mary Quant Ltd. after a buy-out by her Japanese licensees but has gone down in history as the pioneer of a rebellious fashion movement. Per "In Vogue: Twentieth Century Fashion": "Quant had a cataclysmic effect on London with her simple daisy motif, short skirts, mix of music and model Twiggy." 

So it's no wonder she was honoured with prolific awards throughout her illustrious career. In 1966, Mary Quant was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her outstanding contribution to the fashion industry. In 1990, she won Hall of Fame Award of the British Fashion Council and was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to British fashion. Quant is a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers and winner of their Minerva Medal. It was truly the end of an era when the fashion designer passed away at 93

TRIVIA: The daisy that has become our brand’s icon was born from the doodles of a young Mary Quant. She would draw the daisy whilst making her sketches in order to let her ideas flow. Compared to any other motif, this simple design perfectly fit her. Something that could not be created by science, something truly unique in the world. From then on, it not only became an emblem of the freedom that Mary promulgated, along with her desire to break societal norms and show individuality, but also the emblem of our brand.


Mission

"Express who you want to be and shine brighter than ever before. Be free."


Vision

Mary Quant's vision is to empower women with fashion and make-up and also encourage individuality and a rebellious spirit through its unique innovative fashion. Inspired by the vibrant energetic atmosphere of London's "Swinging Sixties" Mary Quant revolutionized the fashion industry with her daring and irreverent creations. Her vision was to create easy, youthful and practical clothes that allowed women to move, run and jump freely.The brand's iconic mini-skirts, bold prints and unconventional designs challenged traditional fashion norms and empowered women to express themselves. 

Mary Quant's commitment to constant innovation and her ability to anticipate emerging trends allowed her to create fresh distinctive looks that resonated with fashion-conscious consumers of the era. The brand's daisy emblem represents the brand's essence.. symbolising freedom and embracing individuality. Throughout its history.. Mary Quant has been recognized and honored for its significant contributions to the fashion industry.. cementing its position as a pioneering force in bold fashion movements.


Key Team

Mary Quant (Founder)

Masaharu Sue (President)

James Matsumiya (Managing Director)


Recognition and Awards
In 1963 Quant was the first winner of the Dress of the Year award, an annual fashion award run by the Fashion Museum, Bath. In 1966, Mary Quant was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her outstanding contribution to the fashion industry. In 1990, she won Hall of Fame Award of the British Fashion Council and was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to British fashion. She was appointed a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to British fashion. Quant is also a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers and winner of their Minerva Medal.

Products and Services

Mary Quant- the iconic fashion brand that revolutionised Sixties' fashion- offers a range of products and services that became a global phenomenon. Starting with a boutique named "Bazaar" on King's Road in London in 1955, Mary Quant introduced unique irreverent designs that defined the "Swinging Sixties." The fashion brand's collections included mini-skirts, printed tights, men's cardigans worn as dresses, white plastic collars, PVC and short shorts. In addition to clothing, the brand expanded into makeup, household goods, and even designed the interiors of the Mini car.


References
Mary Quant
Leadership team

Mary Quant (Founder)

Masaharu Sue (President)

James Matsumiya (Managing Director)

Industries

Fashion and Textiles

Retail and Consumer Goods

Products/ Services
Apparel, accessories and makeup
Number of Employees
500 - 1000
Headquarters
26-28 Hammersmith Grove London W6 7BA United Kingdom
Established
1955
Social Media

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