Kibbutz dress in the 1950S: Utopian equality, anti fashion, and change

Anat Helman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This historical case study reconstructs and analyzes dress practices in the Kibbutz during the early years of the Israeli state. The Kibbutz - a Utopian communal society - was regarded as the incarnation of Zionist agricultural pioneering, but in the 1950s it was going though a certain crisis. The special dress worn by male and female Kibbutz members, both for work and for leisure, served as an intentional anti-fashion. It internally preserved and externally signaled the community's egalitarian, austere, socialist ideals. However, as the Kibbutz was going through various demographic and economic changes, communal clothing institutions and local adornment customs were gradually modified as well. Disputes over the sartorial sphere touched upon combined practical and principal issues, such as forms of clothes distribution, and attempts to allow more personal freedom of choice while at the same time maintaining material equality and collective conformity among Kibbutz members. These disputes reflected wider debates about the community's future development, and attest to the central role that dress played in consolidating and symbolizing the unique culture of the Kibbutz.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)313-340
Number of pages28
JournalFashion Theory - Journal of Dress Body and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • 1950s Israel
  • Anti-fashion
  • Egalitarian dress
  • Kibbutz


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