Shirt, mens, rayon / plastic, designed by Merivale, made by The House of Merivale, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1960-1970
This shirt, designed by Merivale, was from one of Australia's leading fashion chains in the 1960s and 1970s. Established by John and Merivale Hemmes, the landmark House of Merivale and clothing designed by Merivale revolutionised the Australian fashion scene. John and Merivale Hemmes were mavericks in Australian fashion. Modelled on London's famous concept boutiques, and catering to 18-25 year olds, the House of Merivale was the first specialty fashion boutique in Australia.
The House of Merivale was not just a shop; it was a phenomenon that significantly influenced a generation of young Australians' attitude to shopping and the fashion experience. The House of Merivale was the place to go to for the latest trends in music, fashion and make-up and was the first store in Australia to sell the mini skirt. The popularity of the boutique was such that teenagers would be lined up outside the door. The House of Merivale, and Merivale's designs, articulated the mood and identities of Australian youth during the 1960s.
The youth of the 1960s wanted to be recognised as a 'class' separate from their elders and used fashion as a tool of rebellion. With money to spend and easy access to the contraceptive pill, this younger generation enjoyed an unprecedented level of freedom. The fashion market responded accordingly to this growing youth consciousness.
This inexpensive rayon men's shirt was designed by Mr John for the House of Merivale label. John Hemmes, son of a Dutch doctor, met Merivale Brennan on board a ship and after a whirlwind shipboard romance, the couple married in a registry office in London.
On their return to Australia, Merivale made hats and John took on labouring jobs. In the late1950s, disillusioned with other people profiting from their hard work, John and Merivale decided to start their own business, named The House of Merivale, in the Theatre Royal on Castlereagh Street, eventually moving in 1969 to the landmark six-level Victorian building on Pitt Street, Sydney.
The House of Merivale promoted fashion that was inspired by London's boutique culture featuring a fusion of fashion, pop music and art in an atmosphere that was dynamic and fun. The House of Merivale was committed to designing 'modern clothes for people with a zest for life.' The House of Merivale revolutionised young people's fashion and shopping experience.
The House of Merivale specialised in affordable clothing for the fashion savvy eighteen to twenty-five year old teeny bobbers, stocking selected imports like Roslyn Yehuda and clothes designed by young innovative Australian designers including Prue Acton, Norma Tullo and Kenneth Pirrie. It was the first store in Australia to stock the mini.
Within the first few years, The House of Merivale stocked exclusively the self-taught Merivale's original designs, manufactured locally from their own factory and producing around twenty-five new garments each week. In the late seventies The House of Merivale had a shop on Elizabeth Street where they sold seconds and samples they had brought from overseas to copy.
Clothing designed by Merivale attracted a notable clientele including Marlene Dietrich, Cher, Liza Minelli, Mick Jagger, Jose Feliciano and Eddie Fisher.
John and Merivale Hemmes retired from the fashion industry in late 1995, choosing to devote their creativity energies and business acumen to the expansion of the Merivale Group. With son Justin and daughter Bettina, the Merivale Group is successfully building a hospitality and entertainment empire that includes CBD, The Slip Inn, The Establishment and several other venues.