The list of Jewish designers credited with remaking the American fashion industry is long and illustrious. Many came from humble immigrant roots, and their successes are often attributed to family connections in the rag trade and their adaptability and talent for reinventing themselves. Jews in Europe — restricted from owning land and barred from the fields of medicine and law — were often forced to earn a living as tailors or traders. Their skills, coupled with their arrival in America and the advent of the sewing machine, pushed them into the world of fashion when the industry was ripe for explosion.
World War II is often credited with shifting couture from Paris to America. The post-war empowerment of women, a budding American economy, and the new suburban lifestyle paved the way for burgeoning casual culture. That celebration of relaxed comfort opened the door for many of our best-known American clothing designers.