The Creator of American Sportswear Who Time Forgot


About three months ago, I was knee-deep in some reporting about how those saggy canvas tote bags are obliterating our skeletons when I came across a name that made me pause, Google and then Google again. Perhaps you read the piece when it was published, and perhaps you had the same reaction as I did, which came on quickly and rabidly and introduced a fascination I can only describe as relentless.

The name? Bonnie Cashin, a pioneering ready-to-wear designer whose mid-century contributions to the fashion industry helped invent, and cement, the category of American sportswear. And yet, my fascination was this: I genuinely had no idea she existed until a historian told me so.

Apparently across the Bonnie Cashin Awareness Society, I’m more the rule than I am the exception. It’s been 20 years since her death, and her legacy still dictates how women dress and, in turn, how designers dress us. But that impact has gotten lost in time, buried beneath the very same mountain of practical, accessible wardrobe staples she introduced in the first place.