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#ItemsMoMA: The Future of the Breton Shirt

Coco Chanel, Alexa Chung and Unmade. Bret.on. 2017. Commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, on the occasion of the exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern?

Currently on view at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Breton shirt is included in Items: Is Fashion Modern? as one of the 111 items that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries—and continue to hold currency today.

The item

The cotton top with blue sailor-like stripes was introduced in 1858 as the uniform for the French navy and became a true fashion icon when Coco Chanel incorporated it into her 1917 nautical collection, and subsequent looks. As it became associated with her, and was favored by Hollywood icons, the Breton shirt forever changed casual apparel.

According to Brian Trunzo, Senior Menswear Editor of WGSN, the Breton shirt is a “timeless garment that communicates an approachable cool that is understandable to men and women of all generations. Bold and self-assured – yet also conservative – it’s a classic staple that has incredible longevity due to its styling potential.”

James Dean by Sanford Roth

Proving that the stripes really don’t go out of style, last year the Breton top reigned as the summer’s best seller, even outshining summer floral tops.

In 2017, nautical and seafarer themes surfaced in Pre-Summer 18 collections, in the form of re-imagined Breton stripes—classic navy and white fabric combinations, with rope and buckle trims.

For S/S 18, look for Breton stripes in washed-out neutrals as well as manipulated constructions of the stripe and “cut-and-paste” panels.

What’s coming next

MoMA’s Items: Is Fashion Modern? exhibition includes a prototype commission called Bret.on project, by the clothing-on-demand startup Unmade. The prototype lets you play with the Breton shirt’s signature stripes on a touch screen.

Unmade. Bret.on. 2017. Commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, on the occasion of the exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern?. Video by Unmade. Director of Photography: Sarah Alun-Jones

 

The prototype aims for personalisation of clothing at mass scale and the plan is for it to go live in the next six months for the US market. The result is a machine-knitted product, with a surrealistic pattern, unique for each consumer.

Unmade. Bret.on. 2017. Commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, on the occasion of the exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern? Photo: Luke Bennett.

Futures New York

To curate the exhibition Items: Is Fashion Modern?, Paola Antonelli – MoMA’s Senior Curator of Architecture and Design and Director of R&D – combed the globe for the most iconic objects of the past 100 years. What she found was not just these objects, but inspiration for how they would evolve in the future. At Futures New York, she will look at the markets, individuals and technologies poised to take these objects into the next 100 years and beyond. Get your ticket now.

Items: Is Fashion Modern?

The exhibition will run from October 1, 2017 to January 28, 2018, at The Museum of Modern Art, with major support by WGSN. Plan your visit here

 

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