Now & Then: The History of the Chevron Stripe

NOW: Missoni’s ’70s knits proved the perfect mix of color blocking and tribal inspiration for the spring, summer and fall 2011 season as seen in Harper’s Bazaar.

Zig Zag Zig Zag.

If you watch the two lines of high voltage geometric color interact for long enough it can really get you going and – accounting for the recent thinking of Missoni’s executives –  send your mind a blowing. A design fueled euphoria being the only explanation for the Italian knitwear legend’s dodgy decision to sell out their signature stripe to mass retailer Target this year.

Known for its multitude of colorful kaleidoscope patterns including abstracts, florals and the eye-catching chevron stripe, the distinctive design created by Tai and Rosita Missoni in 1953 has certainly been copied before. Originally championed in the U.S. by Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue magazine, Missoni reach the peak of their influence in the fashion world in the early 1970’s. Run by the husband and wife team until handing over design duties to their daughter Angela in 1996, the house of Missoni was remarkable for staying above the many trends of the fashion world.

THEN:  Hitting their stride in the early 1970’s, Missoni started out as a small knitwear workshop in Gallarate, Italy, in 1953 opened by founders Rosita and Ottavio.

When Target’s low cost versions of Missoni products went on sale causing a stampede on stores (with lines up to 100 people long waiting for restocking, and Target’s website crashing repeatedly), everyone was tempted, even mass fashion boycotters like us. The line sold out within 24 hours. Many items appeared on eBay within hours, at two to three times markup.

Ultimately, customers were disappointed. In line with Target’s price range, the fabrics used were not the luxuriously designed wools, cottons, rayon and silk typical of Missoni and customers complained widely about the 400-product collection’s cheap appearance, shoddy manufacturing and unprecedented anger at how Target handled the launch.

FUTURE: The Chevron stripe’s classic boldness is perfectly suited to fashion’s ongoing taste for imaginative contrasts and the eclectic.

With the Target collaboration, only time can tell whether Missoni has cheapened their name for good. One thing is for sure, the incident reawakened a desire for all things chevron striped. Seen everywhere from tights to menswear and DIY paint tutorials, the graphic stripes and chevron patterns have a classic yet modern boldness that never goes out of style, however we incorporate it into our lives.

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Now & Then: The History of the Chevron Stripe

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Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.