18 Mar: The Birth of Fast Fashion

The craze for paper dresses was the huge and unexpected impact of a viral marketing campaign for the Scott Paper Company that debuted in TIME magazine on 18th March, 1966. 

For $1.25, readers could send off for a red bandana print or a black and white pop art dress made of cellulose. It was intended as a press stunt to promote durable napkins, but, to everybody’s surprise, half a million units were sold in just eight months.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ask whether these teenage kicks of the ‘60s presaged the 21st century trend for ‘fast fashion’; reveal how Richard Nixon got in on the act; and explain how, even if you think it sounds ridiculous, you’ve probably worn an outfit inspired by paper dresses at some point in your life, without even realising it…

Further Reading:

• ‘Fashion: Real Live Paper Dolls’ (TIME, 1967): http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,836820,00.html

• ‘Paper Fashion in the 1960s: The Genesis of Fast Fashion’ (Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection, 2018): https://blogs.cornell.edu/cornellcostume/2018/03/17/paper-fashion-in-the-1960s-the-genesis-of-fast-fashion/

• ‘Paper Clothing of the 1960s and the Rise of Fast Fashion’ (ElleYeah, 2021):