Open Access Research Article

The Social Interpretation of Knitwear

Li Zeng1, Zhimin Chen2* and Osmud Rahman3

1School of Art and Design, Shenzhen Polytechnic University, China

2Manchester Fashion Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

3School of Fashion, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

Corresponding Author

Received Date: July 08, 2019;  Published Date: July 16, 2019


The advancement of technology has been changing the course of human history and also the way we live. For example, the development of knitting technology had changed and shaped people’s social values and world view alongside with many socio-economic and political changes. In order to understand the significance and social impact of knitwear, this paper focuses on how social meaning was created through knitting and knitted artefacts from various perspectives, including the societal status of knitwear, the relationship between knitwear and gender, the impact of physical health and sports on knitting, and the pan-politicization of knitting.

During the first half of twentieth century, knitwear was primarily made at home, and these handmade knitted products conferred on the wearer were often perceived as low-end commodities. However, due to modernization, technological advancement and the disruption of war, the democratization of knitwear was fostered and cultivated, and the knitting industry was shifted from male-dominated industry to female-dominated. Whilst the knitting hobby embodied women’s traditional values and position in a family, the emergence of women’s knitwear during the wars reflected the richness of their social engagement. Following World War II, knitwear has become a socio-political weapon to express social ideologies through the manifestation and emancipation of Women’s Liberation Movement. In addition to feminist movement, health consciousness played a significant part on creating intimated clothing or underwear, leisure activities such as swimming had led to the change of women’s bathing suit, and the popularity of sports drove consumers’ demand for casual attire and functional knitwear.

Keywords: Knitting; Knitwear; Society; Politics; Women’s Liberation

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