…comfortable, resistent, easy to wash.  This is how , in the seventies, the new textile fabrics from the Mataró manufacturers were advertised. Mataró was a city specialising in the new textile modes and today exhibits its industrial heritage in the old Can Marfà factory.

Now a museum space, this old textile factory in Mataró opened its first floor in 2015 in the area oif the history of textiles in the capital of the Maresme, as a city which grew thanks to its textile past.

Exhibition view.

30 years of innovation and design in the textile industry in Catalonia is the title of this new theme. Instead of looking back the curators (Anna Capella, as director of the Museum of Mataró and Conxita Gil, as curator of Can Marfà) have chosen to look right here, as far as they can.  Instead of focussing on the clothing of their grandparents they have chosen to look at the sixties and eighties, making this new space of the collection of the textiles of Mataró a ‘vintage’ place, a homage to the childhood of those of us who were children of the old primary school system, and a place to remember the years of the leggings, elephants flairs and miniskirts, and the hippie groups of the sixties.

These were the years years of the diamond-weave socks.

The sixties was a decade of plenty, when in this country there was plenty of work and families reproduced with the promise of Francoism. In the textile sector the speciality in the Maresme was weave and knitting, a kind of elastic textile which at that time was experiencing a genuine boom. Whereas in the fifties this kind of textile was only used for garments such as socks and pants (always white) now it was appearing in all sort of colours. These were the years years of the diamond-weave socks worn by all the children and fathers of the time.

From 1960 to 1980 clothing ceased to be a necessity and became a consumer item. In other words, fashion appeared: disco, futurist, new romantics, glam rock (Bowie, for those who don’t remember), hippies and their flower power. In that context, the weave became a thing a was seen on the streets. Swimsuits, bikinis, dresses, skirts, trousers, hats…all in the same knotted style. Even wedding dresses as can be seen in Can Marfà, with a couple of wedded frogs – the Mocre Frogs – one for the girls and one for the boy, made by the designer from Terrassa Josep Trullàs. Obviously the advertising boom had a lot to do with it, as Can Marfà also shows.

If the oil crisis of the seventies signalled the first slowdown, the entry into the European economic community in 1986 and competition with the Asian markets led to the downfall of the factories in Mataró and the whole country. Since then the industrialist Jaume Vilaseca has collected machinery, clothing and advertising related to the specific and unique weave and knitwear which is exhibited today with the support of the local council in Can Marfà. This new space, apart from the pop tights, glamorous swimsuits and other pieces from the period of desarrollismo in Spain , combines the concept of exhibition with that of conservation and restoration.

The second of these has opened up this new space to conservationists and documentalists. So while can look back on the happy days of the sixties and seventies, we can also go backstage in the museum to see the things are always behind the set. And we love them.